FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting thoughts from the Patriots' 35-17 victory over the Dolphins Sunday:
PATRIOTS 35, DOLPHINS 17
- Dolphins' Stills thinks his trash talk got to Brady
- Tom E. Curran's Best and Worst
- WATCH: Gronk on Cooks riding him like a horse
1) The Dolphins defensive line got to Tom Brady enough in the first half that the threat of another blow may have helped force Brady into his third interception of the season. Ndamukong Suh got Brady on New England's second drive. Cameron Wake got him hip-to-hip in the second quarter, and later on the same drive Charles Harris got his lick in after getting to Brady unblocked. Late in the second quarter, Kiko Alonso got to Brady. Two plays later, Brady was picked by Bobby McCain when Brady wasn't able to step into his throw. Brady was hit seven times, four of which came courtesy of Wake. Despite the pounding, he threw for four touchdowns, including a quasi-handoff to Brandin Cooks in the fourth quarter.
"They got some good shots on me," Brady acknowledged after the game.
2) For the second straight week, the Patriots defense got a key turnover deep in their own territory. Last week it was Marquis Flowers punching the football loose when Seth Roberts got careless near the goal line. This week it was Stephon Gilmore in the end zone, intercepting a Matt Moore floater intended for DeVante Parker. Gilmore was targeted just three times in the game and allowed one catch for five yards.
3) Nate Ebner left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and he was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game. If he's forced to miss time moving forward, as it seems he will, the Patriots will have a significant void on their special-teams units. Ebner is widely regarded as one of the best in the business when it comes to his work in the kicking game. On the punt team, he serves as the personal protector, which is where he was just before he was injured. Fielding the direct snap from Joe Cardona, he ran around the right edge for a first down but was injured before he fell out of bounds. Jordan Richards replaced him as the personal protector.
4) Dion Lewis continued to run effectively as the team's primary back, picking up a career-high 112 yards on 15 carries. He showed his typical blend of elusiveness near the line of scrimmage, and then once getting into the secondary, he finished strong, running through arm tackles. Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch yet again in this one, and if Lewis remains healthy and continues to run this well, it may be hard for Gillislee to get back in.
5) Ebner was the only injury the Patriots suffered on the day. Trey Flowers left the game in the third quarter with a rib injury. LaAdrian Waddle injured his ankle in the fourth and left the game. Trevor Reilly left the game after a violent collision on a kickoff, and Kyle Van Noy came out with a leg injury after recording a sack in the fourth quarter. The Patriots training staff had its hands full.