MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Jamie Collins had had enough of the Florida heat. So, he just kept running.
The linebacker capped another dominating performance from the Patriot defense by picking off Josh Rosen at the 5-yard line to seal a 43-0 win Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.
Collins didn’t wait around for any congratulatory hugs after his second interception of the day. He bolted toward the tunnel Forrest Gump style and headed straight for an icy cold shower after three-plus hours in the stifling heat and humidity.
“He was trying to get outta there,’’ said a laughing Duron Harmon, who tipped the Rosen pass that Collins snagged. “He wanted to get home and back to his family — like the rest of us.’’
Home was his final destination, but Collins visited the house earlier in the day, returning a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception 69 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We saw that, we saw Jamie running,’’ said fellow linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. “Jamie’s one of the main personalities on this team, so it’s always good when a guy is out there having fun. Nothing surprises us with him at this point.’’
Collins’s two thefts were part of a four-interception day for the Patriots, with Stephon Gilmore (54-yard pick-6 moments before Collins’s touchdown) and Devin McCourty also getting in on the act.
Collins is enjoying his second go-round in New England. Along with his interceptions, he was credited with a team-high five tackles, including one for a loss and a half-sack.
New England’s defense was smothering on all three levels with the line constantly getting the jump on Miami’s overmatched blockers, the linebackers playing with speed, and the secondary on every ball.
The Dolphins’ offense managed just 184 net yards on the day — 67 coming on the final drive — with the Patriots collecting seven sacks to go with those four turnovers.
“Shutting them out was icing on the cake, but we came to win the game,’’ said Bentley. “Winning on the road is a big deal for us.’’
The Patriots’ defense has allowed just 6 points in the last three games, dating to the Super Bowl.
“Everybody just doing what they’re supposed to do,’’ said defensive tackle Adam Butler. “Nobody’s being selfish, in my opinion. When you get guys that come together collectively, these are the results you can get.’’
Here are some other observations as the Patriots raced to 2-0 and the Dolphins, who had to hear “Tua” chants on their way off the field, fell to 0-2.
■ No cold feet for Antonio Brown.
The Patriots’ newest weapon showed right out of the gates why he’s going to be such a good fit in this offense. He caught his first three targets from Tom Brady and ended up with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.
The scoring pass was a thing of beauty as Brady glanced right, pausing the defense, before coming back left and hitting Brown with a back-shoulder bullet. It’s as close to an indefensible play as there is.
“Yeah, it was a good start,’’ said Brady. “I was just trying to find an open guy and he was snapping off some routes and did a great job. It was good to find him.’’
■ Cool customer.
This may be Brady’s personal House of Horrors, but he shook of any fears (OK, he has none) of playing at Hard Rock.
Brady hit on 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Any time you win on the road and [in the] division, it’s good — especially here because it’s been a challenge for us over the years,’’ said Brady.
■ Butler a tower of strength.
Butler may have had his strongest game as a pro. The third-year defensive tackle was active and aggressive, consistently beating his blocker and being disruptive.
Butler had a pair of sacks, a deflected pass, and altered several others by jumping in passing lanes.
“You have to understand the average timing in the NFL when the ball normally comes out and when you’ve got opportunities, you’ve got to get in there and make the play,’’ said Butler.
■ Yeoman’s work by the understudies.
Marshall Newhouse got the start at right tackle with Marcus Cannon out and Korey Cunningham had to step in at left tackle when Isaiah Wynn injured his foot. It wasn’t a seamless transition, but the newcomers held up well given their lack of familiarity with the system.
“Yeah, it’s a real challenge there,’’ said coach Bill Belichick. “Marshall and Korey really stepped up and that’s what we have depth for. We had to use it today. It was a tough one out there, but they battled through it.’’
■ Balancing act.
New England’s running game stalled in the opener, but showed much improvement against Miami. The top three backs, Sony Michel (85 yards), Rex Burkhead (21), and James White (10) combined for 116 yards.
■ No miracles. No Fitzmagic.
The Dolphins were overmatched in every area as coach Brian Flores tries to install his program. The offensive line couldn’t provide time for either Fitzpatrick or Rosen to make plays.
When they did get time to throw, the receivers couldn’t consistently hang on, which also had a lot to do with New England’s coverage.
“That’s disappointing,’’ said Flores. “There were some drops out there, some plays we could have made. We left some yards out there, I think we know that. The good thing is that we had opportunities. We’ve just got to — we’ve got to capitalize.’’