FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When Jimmy Garoppolo went out because of a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the New England Patriots’ 31-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, the game plan changed.

And LeGarrette Blount prospered.

Blount, the Patriots’ 250-pound battering ram of a running back, responded by rushing for 123 yards and a touchdown, with most of the yardage coming in the second half.

Blount gained 92 yards in the second half, included a 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the Patriots a 31-3 lead.

“I just try my best to work hard,” he said. “Make sure I seize every opportunity I get. Do everything I can that is going to work out best for the team. And I made sure I did my job.

“The offensive line played amazing … they opened up a lot of big holes for me to run through.”


Blount gained a significant amount of his yards on sweeps to the left, led by rookie guard Joe Thuney and tackle Nate Solder, who returned to the lineup for the first time since last Oct. 11 when he suffered a season-ending arm injury.

Blount also made an amazing play when he hurdled a defender for the second game in a row – this time Miami’s Byron Maxwell. That came on a 26-yard run that astounded even his own teammates. Tight end Martellus Bennett asked, “How can a man that size do that?”

“I mean, it’s not magic, you know?” said Blount. “It’s just instinctive, you know? If a guy is going to hit you in your legs – you know I’m a big guy – you’re going to either have to go over them or go through them. Obviously I can’t get as low as he can so …”

Maxwell had a tough day. He received a powerful stiff arm from tight end Martellus Bennett on a short pass that eventually went for 37 yards.

Blount went over 100 yards rushing for the 11th time in his career. Bennett, meanwhile, caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. It was the third time he went over 100 receiving yards in his career.

“I haven’t had this much fun in a long time in the NFL and I think it’s making a big difference for me, because when it’s fun, it’s much easier to go out there and play,” said Bennett, who came over in a trade with Chicago.”


THE DAVID ORTIZ retirement tour took a detour to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots honored the Red Sox slugger in a pregame ceremony that included a nice video tribute.

Ortiz ran onto the field wearing a No. 12 Tom Brady jersey, drawing thunderous applause. Then, owner Bob Kraft presented Ortiz with his own No. 34 Big Papi Patriots jersey.

Ortiz was able to attend the ceremony because the Red Sox had an 8 p.m. start against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

KEVIN FAULK, who was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame earlier this summer, was honored at halftime.

Kraft, introducing Faulk and said Patriots fans “love unselfish players, especially the little guy who comes up big. And for 13 years, when we needed to convert a third down to keep a drive going, no one came up bigger than Kevin Faulk.”

Faulk thanked his family and closed by thanking the fans. “I love you and I will always be a Pat for life,” he said.

TIGHT END Rob Gronkowski was inactive for the game. Gronkowski has been dealing with a hamstring issue and also missed the opener. With the Patriots playing their next game Thursday night against Houston, it’s possible he won’t be ready for that game, either.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) was also among the Patriots’ inactive players for the game.


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