Home Improvement

The Dolphins get to open the 2011 regular season at home, and they'll get a chance Monday night to match their victory total at Sun Life Stadium from the entire 2010 campaign. That's how bad things were at home last season, and the Dolphins know they'll need to do better in that department if they are to have the kind of 2011 season they hope.

"You've got to win at home," said tackle Jake Long. "We didn't do good enough last year at it, but we're moving forward and we know we're going to win at home this year. To be able to start off at home in front of our home fans, it'll be big for us."

The Dolphins finished 1-7 at Sun Life Stadium, which negated the fine work they did on the road, where they posted a 6-2 record. One of those victories came at Green Bay, home of the defending Super Bowl champions.

When they won the AFC East title in Tony Sparano's first year as head coach in 2008, the Dolphins were 6-2 at home.

But this is a new season and what happened at Sun Life Stadium in 2010 doesn't matter anymore, says tight end Anthony Fasano.

"It's a new season, so I don't think there's much thought of home record last season," he said. "We have a great opportunity this Monday."

Much has been made this week of Sparano having crowd noise piped into the practice facility in anticipation of a large number of Patriots fans on Monday night and the coach also said the Dolphins would have a bigger home-field advantage had the game been scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. instead of Monday night.

For the record, the Dolphins are 1-4 in their last five daytime home games in September, but what matters most is execution.

This is a big game for the Dolphins in many ways, and one of those is that a victory over the mighty Patriots would go a long toward winning over a fan base that has voiced its displeasure at times.

"It's important," Sparano of winning over the crowd. "I mean, it's a lot better than the alternative. So I mean it's really important. I think we want to go out there; we want to play well for the guys in the locker room there. They want to play well for one another.

"They want to play well for the fans and it's a home game. The way we drew it this year we're at home in week one and week two and certainly no bigger week than this week. We want to win and I think with that comes excitement, enthusiasm, and all those good things. That's a way to help win the fans."

For Kevin Burnett, it's a third consecutive season his opener has come on Monday night.

He was with the Chargers when they opened at Oakland in a Monday night game in 2009 and at Kansas City on the first Monday night last season.

This time, though, he gets to open at home. And it's clear he's happy about it.

"Anytime you can play in your own backyard, you can play PlayStation on your TV, you want to do it," he said. "It's going to be very important for us to have that home crowd behind us and have everybody be as loud as they can be."

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