chad henne_web.jpgAP Sports Writer

MIAMI — Chad Henne had the best game of his Miami Dolphins career.

Problem was, so did the other former Michigan quarterback on the field, turning a Monday night opener into a Monday nightmare for a Dolphins defense that expected to rank among the NFL's best this season.

Tom Brady embarrassed the Dolphins secondary by throwing for a career best 517 yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yarder to former Miami receiver Wes Welker to seal the game in the fourth quarter.

The New England Patriots beat Miami 38-24, handing the Dolphins their 10th loss in 11 home games dating back to December 2009.

“It's embarrassing. It's embarrassing.  That should never happen,” Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell said when told of Brady's final numbers.

“It's really embarrassing. It goes back to us challenging guys. That's on us. We can give him credit for what he did but, at the same time, we've got to go out and challenge guys. That's the bottom line.”

Henne completed 30 of 49 passes for 416 yards, 53 more than his previous best of 363 set last season. All for naught, thanks to Brady, the NFL's unanimous MVP last season, who picked up right where he left off.

“We did some good things,” Henne said. “We have to watch the tape, see what we can correct and get better at. The best thing about this is the team's not quitting. Offensive guys, defensive guys, special teams, we didn't quit out there.”

Combined, the former Wolverines threw for 933 yards in the game, the 906 yards of net passing one of numerous records set Monday night.

“Unfortunately, those numbers don't really matter,” Dolphins receiver Davone Bess said. “We lost.”

New England finished with a team record 622 yards of offense, the most allowed by a Miami defense, the previous record being 597 against the New York Jets in 1988.

“They made some plays on us,” Brady said. “We made a few more than them.”

Brady completed 32 of 48 passes and, perhaps in the most ironic of footnotes, his NFL record for consecutive passes without an interception ended with 13:13 left in the third quarter when Jared Odrick grabbed a deflected ball and rumbled 40 yards to set up a Miami touchdown.

Brady had thrown 358 straight passes without being picked off in a regular season game, a streak that began last October.

By the end of Monday night, that mistake — and it wasn't even his mistake — was long forgotten.

So, too, in many respects, was Henne's spectacular night. According to STATS LLC, it was the 16th time in Dolphins history that a quarterback threw for at least 400 yards: Dan Marino did it 13 times and Joey Harrington and David Woodley both did it once.

The game turned completely New England's way with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter. Henne's fourth-and-goal pass from the 1 intended for Brian Hartline fell incomplete and the Patriots took over.

“The right play,” Henne insisted afterward.

Maybe, maybe not. The next one, however, couldn't be argued. On the first play of the ensuing New England series, Brady lofted the ball out to Welker, who took off on a 13-second sprint that ended up as the longest play from scrimmage in Patriots history.

It pushed Brady over the 500-yard mark and sent Miami fans flocking to the exits.

“This is the first game, man,” Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “We've got 15 more. Know what I'm sayin'? We've just got to play well from here on out. It's just the first one.”

Brandon Marshall finished with 139 receiving yards on seven catches for Miami.

Henne also was Miami's leading rusher with 59 yards and a touchdown and Reggie Bush finished with 38 yards on 11 carries in his first regular-season game with the Dolphins.

Bush and Hartline caught Henne's touchdown passes.

“We said it all week: Big plays are going to kill you against this team,'' Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said.

The Dolphins had a star-studded series of pre-game ceremonies, including orange-carpet arrivals for the likes of Fergie — a limited partner with the football organization — and Hank Williams Jr.

A statue of original Dolphins owner Joe Robbie was re-dedicated outside the stadium he built and a flag was hoisted in honor of former Miami tight end and radio commentator Jim Mandich, who died of complications from cancer earlier this year.

And, like in every stadium that hosted NFL games the Sunday, the night was tinged with patriotism.

One day after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, each fan was handed an American flag upon entering the stadium.

For the national anthem, 400 police officers and firefighters were invited onto the field to be recognized — their standing formation was in the shape of the letters U-S-A — followed by the flyover of a stealth bomber.

Photo: Chad Henne