Patriots gear up for Porter's mouth, 'Wildcat' Dolphins

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots get another shot Sunday to silence Joey Porter and the Miami Dolphins.

Their first change didn't go so well. Porter had four sacks in the Dolphins' 38-13 rout at Gillette Stadium.

But Porter hasn't gotten over what happened before the game, saying again Monday that New England disrespected the Dolphins by disrupting their warm-ups before the September game.

Anatomy of a Play

"We don't like them," Porter said. "They don't like us."

Patriots fullback Heath Evans said Porter has earned the right to open his mouth.

"When you have 12-and-a-half, 13-and-a-half sacks or whatever he's got in 10 games, you can pretty much say what you want in this league and get away with it," Patriots fullback Heath Evans responded Tuesday. "Until we do something about him, he's earned the right to say what he wants to say. They're 1-0 against us this year."

Evans said Porter should get much of the credit for the inspired play of the Dolphins' defense this season.

"I think he's that fired up every week," Evans said. "He's a competitor. I admire a guy like that on the field."

Sunday's game is a crucial one in a tight AFC East race. Miami and New England enter with 6-4 records, one game behind the first-place New York Jets.

"There's not much room here," Patriots left tackle Matt Light said. "Where we're at right now, everybody understands we have to play better week in, week out. And it starts with this week. This is as big as it gets."

Light and the offensive line will have to do a better job containing Porter -- and the rest of the Miami defense. In Week 3, the Dolphins sacked quarterbacks Matt Cassel and rookie Kevin O'Connell five times.

"He's playing some of his best ball," Light said. "He's one of those guys you just have to get a hat on. You can't give anything to him. He takes everything he gets."

"He's the same player we've seen," Patriots coach Bill Belichick added. "I think it certainly helps them defensively. Their turnovers, their sacks, some of their big plays on defense have come, as usual, when the offense is in long-yardage situations or they're ahead and (the offense) has to throw, they're taking more chances, they're a little more exposed."

Belichick and defensive coordinator Dean Pees also have been fielding questions about containing the Dolphins' "Wildcat" formation that features a direct snap to the running back with the quarterback split out as a receiver. The formation burned the Patriots for 461 total yards in September. Ronnie Brown rushed for 113 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries while throwing for another score.

"It's a formation they run maybe five to eight times a game," Belichick said Tuesday. "They jump into it, jump out of it. They change it up every week, either add a couple new plays or add a couple of new looks off of it."

The Patriots offensive line has cleaned up its play significantly over the last four weeks, allowing just four sacks in the past three games. The solid line play has helped Cassel become more confident in the pocket, throwing for a career-best 400 yards and three touchdowns in 34-31 overtime loss to the New York Jets on Nov. 13.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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