FOXBOROUGH — Add another player to the list of Patriots starters sidelined by serious injuries.
Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer left Sunday’s game against the Dolphins midway through the second quarter when he was rolled into while blocking. His pained scream was picked up by CBS microphones and he pounded the turf with his hands.
Vollmer’s right leg was put in an air cast and he was taken from the field in a cart, with many of his teammates coming over and offering their support before he was driven away. Vollmer has a broken bone in his lower right leg, and his season well could be over.
“It’s always tough. Sebastian is a good player, good teammate, good friend, so we’re hoping for the best,” left guard Logan Mankins said immediately after the game.
Vollmer was a second-round pick in the 2009 draft and signed a four-year, $27 million contract extension before this season. He’s been somewhat injury-prone, though, and has played in every game just once, in 2010.
The Patriots already have lost defensive captains Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo to season-ending injuries, and have had Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Shane Vereen also miss games.
Vollmer was replaced at right tackle by Marcus Cannon.
Talib misses game
Amendola and cornerback Aqib Talib were listed as questionable after each was limited in practice all week. One played, one didn’t.
Talib was one of the Patriots’ seven inactives, missing his second straight game with a hip injury. Amendola, who like Talib was injured in the Oct. 13 game with the Saints, returned from a concussion, and caught three passes for 15 yards.
The Patriots had ruled defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (knee) and running back Leon Washington (ankle) out after Friday’s practice. To get to seven, they added four healthy scratches: receiver Josh Boyce, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, offensive lineman Chris Barker, and defensive end Jake Bequette.
Unlike last week, there were no push penalties called on field goal or extra-point tries. People might be tired of hearing about the controversial call, but an ESPN report on Sunday morning said that the league sent a videotape to all 32 teams reinforcing what’s not acceptable.
The report said that two plays were shown on the videotape: the push by Patriots defensive lineman Chris Jones in overtime that resulted in a 15-yard penalty and a similar push from the Jets’ Quinton Coples on Stephen Gostkowski’s tying field goal with 16 seconds left in regulation that was not flagged. According to the report, the videotape informed teams that the Coples push also should have been penalized.
Spike for nothing
Gronkowski was targeted only five times — 12 fewer than the 17 balls thrown his way a week before in his season debut — and caught two for 27 yards. Gronkowski thought he had scored on a 30-yard touchdown reception, but the play was called back because of a holding call on left tackle Nate Solder.
“It’s football. Some plays get called back,” said Gronkowski, who gave the crowd a glimpse of his famous spike before learning of the penalty.
Taking it to new level
With three takeaways, the Patriots extended their streak of games with at least one to 35, the longest active run in the league. Rob Ninkovich recovered a third-quarter fumble, Marquice Cole intercepted a pass (with help from Devin McCourty), and rookie Duron Harmon recorded his first NFL interception in the final minute.
After making his pick, Harmon instinctively tossed the ball to the referee, then thought better of it and asked for the ball back. McCourty had the assist there, too.
“Devin got the ball back for me. I tossed it over and he said, ‘What are you doing? That’s your first pick, get the ball back.’ I have to thank the official for giving it back,” said Harmon, who said he’d be giving the ball to his 2-year-old son, Christopher. “It felt great. Any time you can get an interception and get your hands on the ball it’s a great feeling, no matter how you do it.”
Ninkovich always seems to get his hands on the football. The fumble he recovered was his 11th since the start of the 2010 season, tops in the NFL. He raced into the end zone after scooping up the ball, but was ruled down by contact.
“I didn’t think anyone touched me, but I guess they did,” Ninkovich said. “I’ll take the recovery and the points scored.”
Gregory gets call
Mayo had been the defensive signal-caller in the huddle, a task that fell to Dont’a Hightower last week with Mayo out.
It was Steve Gregory’s turn against the Dolphins, playing the game with the small green dot on the back of his helmet, which signifies he can receive defensive signals from the coaches through a small microphone.
“We all know our calls and understand our defense. I just happened to be the guy this game that was communicating it to the guys,” Gregory said. “Hightower was still calling some stuff, too. We did it collectively, as a group. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Leaders in their field
Winners in the Patriots’ Punt, Pass & Kick competition, held before the game, were Erin Mackin of Canton, Conn. (girls’ 6-7), Owen Sevigny of Mexico, Maine (boys’ 6-7), Brooke Manning of Marshfield (girls’ 8-9), Drew Hall of Pembroke (boys’ 8-9), Thea Hanscom of Hadley (girls’ 10-11), Caleb Morse of Windsor, Vt. (boys’ 10-11), Amanda Dustin of Marshfield (girls’ 12-13), Bobby Cliché of Stratham, N.H. (boys’ 12-13), Emily Laubauskas of Mexico, Maine (girls’ 14-15), and Cameron Abderhalden of Lenox (boys’ 14-15) . . . It wasn’t a big individual numbers day for Tom Brady, but the touchdown pass he threw to Aaron Dobson gave him 343 for his career, passing Fran Tarkenton for fourth on the all-time list. Brady was joined later in the day by Drew Brees of the Saints, who threw five against the Bills and also has 343 . . . The Patriots had a season-high six sacks, including another from Chris Jones, who has 4½. Chandler Jones also had one, increasing his team lead to 7½ . . . Chandler Jones was credited with blocking a 39-yard field goal attempt by Caleb Sturgis with 2:51 left and the Dolphins trailing by 10. It’s the first blocked field goal for the Patriots since Patrick Chung got one in 2010, also against the Dolphins . . . The Patriots are 22-1 in their last 23 October home games. The only loss came Oct. 2, 2005, against the Chargers . . . Gostkowski’s two field goals gave him 15 straight, the longest stretch of his career and eight behind the franchise record held by Adam Vinatieri (2004).