‘Huge step’ forward for untested Patriots defense in win

(Adam Richins for BSJ)

On a football day where few numbers mattered, Bill Belichick can point to his defense and beam about one number:

4.6 … As in 4.6 yards per play allowed.

Needless to say, if New England holds the opposition to under 5 yards a play this season, it will win a bundle of football games.

As expected, Belichick and his defensive brain trust shuttled bodies in and out with regularity. It proved beneficial deep into the second half, where the combination of a rigorous -- albeit it shortened -- preseason and regular subbing had the Patriots running circles around a gassed Miami offense.

Honestly, it was reminiscent of one of those trips to South Beach, with the Florida sun and humidity forcing the visitor to wilt.

Fatigue was certainly a factor, and Belichick knew it.

“I thought the players were in good condition. I thought the conditioning was a big factor for us. That's a credit to their hard work,” Belichick said.

“We played a lot of people on defense, period. You're right, we did have a lot of defensive backs. I think we had 11 active for the game. We were able to match up and also rotate through there so that we could keep everybody fresh. And so I thought defensively it's a lot better than the, whatever, 27 points we gave up last year to them. We played more competitively there.”

It was Week 1, and all was not perfect.