Dol­phins seek­ing streak buster, 4-0 start

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Nfl - By Safid Deen

Cameron Wake, Ryan Tan­nehill, Adam Gase and the rest of the Mi­ami Dol­phins may in­sist this is just an­other game against just an­other op­po­nent.

And while his­tory may not be on their side, they surely know what is at stake in Sun­day’s 1 p.m. game against the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots in Gil­lette Sta­dium.

A vic­tory on the road would be Mi­ami’s first win at New Eng­land since 2008.

Just as im­por­tant, a win would re­sult in the Dol­phins’ first 4-0 start since

1995.

“To be hon­est, I could care less, and I’m sure they don’t care about what hap­pened 10 years ago. … Sun­day af­ter­noon is what mat­ters or doesn’t mat­ter,” said Wake, who has yet to win a game in New Eng­land in his

10 sea­sons with the Dol­phins.

“What hap­pened two years ago, five or 10 or 20 … it’s play by play,” added Wake. “You’ve got to win the play. You’ve got to win the day. That’s all I’m fo­cused on.”

The Dol­phins (3-0) will en­ter the game as one of three un­de­feated teams re­main­ing in the NFL, join­ing the Kansas City Chiefs and

Los An­ge­les Rams.

And with a two-game lead in the loss col­umn over the Pa­tri­ots, Buf­falo Bills and New York Jets — all sit­ting at 1-2 — the Dol­phins would re­main atop the AFC East with a win or loss against the Pa­tri­ots.

Still, Gase wants his team to main­tain the proper per­spec­tive head­ing into the matchup.

Af­ter all, it has been a driv­ing force in their fast, fun-filled start.

“It’s the fourth game of the year. I know every­body wants to make it big­ger than that, but that’s what it is,” Gase said when asked what a win over the Pa­tri­ots would mean for the Dol­phins.

“It’s the first quar­ter of the sea­son. There’s a long

ways to go. Ev­ery game is im­por­tant and that’s the one we’re fo­cused on right now. Any­time you can get a win and you keep stack­ing them on top of each other, it’s a pos­i­tive.”

A win would be a solid foun­da­tion for this sea­son as the Dol­phins as­pire to reach the play­offs for the se­cond time in Gase’s three­year ten­ure.

To peak their fo­cus at the start of each prac­tice this past week, the Dol­phins have played clas­sic songs “O For­tuna” — a pop­u­lar 1930s bal­lad that has ap­peared in count­less movies, TV shows and com­mer­cials — and Ozzy Os­bourne’s “Crazy Train” over the prac­tice field speak­ers.

Co­in­ci­den­tally or not, both songs are played dur­ing the Pa­tri­ots’ pre-game in­tro­duc­tions be­fore ev­ery home game.

“I guess I didn’t no­tice it,” Gase said. “I have other things go­ing on. I’m not pick­ing iPod songs.”

Un­der Gase, and with Tan­nehill in the fold as start­ing quar­ter­back, the Dol­phins have won 10 of their last 11 games dat­ing back to 2016.

This sea­son, Gase has called a num­ber of plays aimed at un­leash­ing speed­sters and Ja­keem Grant and Al­bert Wil­son for big gains and touch­downs, while re­ceivers like Kenny Stills and for­mer Pa­triot Danny Amen­dola have be­come re­li­able tar­gets for passes from Tan­nehill.

The Pa­tri­ots have strug­gled to score with­out re­li­able re­ceiv­ing tar­gets be­hind tight end Rob Gronkowski, and their de­fense ranks in the bot­tom four of the NFL, giv­ing up more than 400 yards per game.

New Eng­land, which has had sev­eral poor starts to sea­sons in Septem­ber, is off to an­other one. But his­tory shows that the Pa­tri­ots get stronger dur­ing the course of the sea­son. An ex­am­ple: Af­ter 2-2 starts in 2003 and 2014, they won the Su­per Bowl.

The Dol­phins don’t be­lieve the Pa­tri­ots game will serve as an early barom­e­ter for their team, which last made the play­offs in 2016 and 2008.

They should hope their loose “just-an­other-game” ap­proach does not end in just an­other re­sult in Foxbor­ough, Mass­a­chu­setts.

“I don’t know if it’s a mea­sur­ing stick or any­thing like that,” Tan­nehill said. “Ob­vi­ously I have a ton of re­spect for New Eng­land, and what they’ve done, and what kind of team they are. [It’s a] big op­por­tu­nity for us to go up there and play well.”

Added Grant: “We’re not mak­ing it out to be this Su­per Bowl game or any­thing like that. … We’re play­ing against the Pa­tri­ots — a very good team — but we’re a good team as well. They’re go­ing to give us their best shot, and we’re go­ing to give them our best shot.”

STEVEN SENNE/AP

Mi­ami Dol­phins run­ning back Kenyan Drake (32) gives a stiff arm to New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots line­backer Kyle Van Noy (53) dur­ing last year’s game in Foxbor­ough, Mass.

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