COVERING THE BASES

The Dolphins pass defense usually has been pretty good over the past couple of years. But some of the breakdowns unfortunately have come in games against the New England Patriots and they have proved costly.

The two glaring examples are the last five minutes of the 2002 regular season finale at Foxboro when the Dolphins let a 24-13 lead slip away and the Oct. 19 meeting this year at Pro Player Stadium when the Dolphins were beaten in overtime by an 82-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Troy Brown.

The Patriots are not a great running team this season, and it figures that if they are to beat the Dolphins on Sunday they will have to do so through the air.

That means the likes of Patrick Surtain, Sam Madison, Sammy Knight, Brock Marion and Terrell Buckley have to bring their "A" game on Sunday.

The Patriots have been known to throw wrinkles in their game plan, and what they did in October was sent several receivers in the same area.

Madison said the Dolphins will be ready for whatever the Patriots throw at them — no pun intended.

The weather might become a factor in the passing game because it is expected to be cold and possibly snowing on Sunday.

That would seem to favor a running team, which is this case would be the Dolphins.

The defense also can make like easier on itself by getting pressure against Brady. You may recall that on the game-winning bomb to Brown in October, the play worked only because Brady had so much time to throw.

In any event, the Dolphins defensive backs take pride in their ability and would like to consider themselves one of the top units in the league — if not the top.

Sunday would be a great time to prove it.


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