FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Turns out all that talk about the Dolphins deciphering the signals Tom Brady was barking out was a lot of noise about not very much.

Except, perhaps, for a bit of humor.

The tale began unfolding Monday when two unidentified Miami players reportedly said that before their 21-0 win over the New England Patriots last Sunday, the Dolphins “bought” recordings that included audio of Brady calling signals in previous games.

“I’m a little late today because I was watching TV tape,” Dolphins coach Nick Saban said with a grin as he began his news conference Wednesday in Miami.

Even the usually somber Bill Belichick turned comedic when asked if there’s any other source of game audio than a television broadcast.

“Satellite,” the Patriots coach said to laughter at his own news conference. “Technology, that’s not really my thing. I can barely turn the computer on and off.”

The usually diplomatic Brady showed a feisty side when he shot down the notion that the Dolphins somehow had a huge advantage because they found a new way to figure out what “hut-1, hut-2” means.

“I would love to see evidence of that,” the Patriots quarterback said three days after he threw for 78 yards, was sacked four times and was hurried many more. “They can say that, but I think that is a big crock of you know what.”

The Palm Beach Post on Monday quoted the unnamed players as saying the team “bought” tapes that included audio, but Saban indicated that they may have been confused and said the team used past telecasts.

“It probably sounds good for them to say that they have it all figured out,” Brady said, “but, you know, they’re 6-7 and we’re 9-4, so you tell me who’s got it more figured out.”

Lately, that would be the Dolphins.

They’re 5-1 in their last six games, while the Patriots are 3-3 and nearly lost to Detroit, which is tied with Oakland for the worst record in the NFL at 2-11.

New England committed 11 turnovers and 23 penalties in the last three games.

So maybe it’s the Patriots who should keep their ears open.

“This team has to listen more to what the coach says,” Brady said. “If we listen more and we did more of what our coaches told us to do, I think we’d be a lot better off. But at times I think we figure we can do it our way, and we show that there is quite a bit of inconsistency to that.”

That, more than anything the Dolphins might have heard from Brady’s mouth, contributed to the Patriots’ collapse.

“Our audibles, they’re not going to get anything from a copy of a TV game,” said Patriots fullback Heath Evans, who started last season with Miami. “They beat us hands down. They just punched us in the face and made us like it.”

Saban, a close friend of Belichick, was equally blunt about the idea that the Dolphins did anything not done regularly throughout the NFL: “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

He said his players told him that trying to pick up a quarterback’s cadence from television recordings has been done for a long time – even in Cleveland, where he was Belichick’s defensive coordinator from 1991 through 1994.

“Everybody’s thinking that the only way we can beat the New England Patriots is if we steal their signals,” Miami linebacker Zach Thomas said. “There were no bought tapes. Why do you have to buy tapes in this league?”

Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor had six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. The sounds that mattered to him were Patriots hitting the ground.

“You can turn on your TV or your TiVo and hear a snap count,” he said.

All teams search for an extra edge, but Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said a player can hear better on the field during the game than from a recording.

“You watch the games on high-def and you can hear certain things,” he said. “Now, could I put a whole game plan together? No, but we try to use whatever we can to help us out.”

Sometimes, though, even knowing when the ball will be snapped doesn’t help, especially after a player was penalized for jumping offside the previous week.

“The offside penalty in the Detroit game kind of had me cautious,” Patriots defensive end Ty Warren said. “I was kind of in the mindset that I’d rather be a second late than a second ahead.”

AP-ES-12-13-06 1854EST


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