For the third straight season, the New England Patriots opened their season against AFC East rival Miami Dolphins. The Patriots’ struggles against Miami continued, dropping the Week 1 matchup 20-7 which marked their fourth straight loss to the Fins.
After a strong opening drive that was derailed on an interception, New England’s offense struggled to move the football for the rest of the afternoon.
Final score: Patriots (0-1) 7 : 20 Dolphins (1-0)
New England received to start the season and got right to work offensively. Working primarily out of 12-personnel, the Patriots had success moving the ball both on the ground and through the air. The strong drive took a turn however, as Mac Jones’ pass intended for DeVante Parker in the end zone was tipped in the air by Xavien Howard and intercepted by Jevon Holland.
Looking to build off the turnover, Tua Tagovailoa wasted no time looking for his new target Tyreek Hill. Hill hauled a pair of passes, one going for 23-yards after Carl Davis Jr. was penalized for a neutral zone infraction on a fourth-and-one. After a pair of runs, Deatrich Wise recorded a sack and forced a fumble on third-down, setting up a 43-yard field goal by Jason Sanders. [Patriots 0 : 3 Dolphins]
Trailing by three, the Patriots looked to Rhamondre Stevenson on their second drive. Stevenson broke off runs of seven- and 12-yards on the first two plays from scrimmage. Facing on a long third-and-11 after a negative run and false start, Nelson Agholor found room on a screen pass - featuring a strong block from Hunter Henry - for 17-yards a first-down. New England failed to build off the play, as Mac Jones was sacked the very next play and Ty Montgomery was tackled for a loss on second-down. The Patriots punted away after a nine-yard reception by Henry.
Starting the second quarter at their own six-yard line, Miami converted two straight third-downs before Tua found tight end Durham Smythe for 14-yards. The Dolphins drive stalled around midfield, largely thanks to safety Kyle Dugger - who chased down Tyreek Hill on an end around and met Chase Edmonds in the backfield for a seven-yard loss on back-to-back plays.
The Patriots third drive started with a change up front, as veteran James Ferentz replaced rookie Cole Strange at left guard. The swap did not led to success, as safety Brandon Jones knocked the football away from Mac Jones on a blitz, which Melvin Ingram recovered for a Miami touchdown. [Patriots 0 : 10 Dolphins]
New England’s offense continued to struggle on their next drive. Besides an incredible 27-yard snag by Jakobi Meyers on third-down, the Patriots mustered just three yards on five total plays.
Miami’s third offensive drive of the game started with just four-minutes remaining in the half. Tua found his speedster’s Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle for gains of 14- and eight-yards early in the drive. Following the two-minute warning, Hill hauled in an impressive jump-ball that went through the hands of rookie cornerback Jack Jones for a 26-yard gain. Miami stayed aggressive on a fourth-and-seven with 24 second left, as Waddle hauled in a 42-yard catch and run to extend Miami’s lead. Safety Adrian Phillips was injured during the drive. [Patriots 0 : 17 Dolphins]
New England kneeled the ball to end the first half.
Injury Update: Adrian Phillips (ribs) questionable to return
Starting with the second half with the ball, Miami was not able to extend their 17-point lead. The Dolphins went three-and-out after a third-down pass to Hill was stopped short by Dugger. Dugger was slow to get up after appearing to get hit below the belt on the play.
New England’s offense looked to get back on track in the second half. After a Damien Harris 12-yard run, the Patriots picked up the tempo as Jones spread the ball around with completions to Parker, Stevenson, Meyers, and Agholor. The drive stayed alive thanks to a defensive penalty by Xavien Howard on a fourth-and-one incompletion to Parker. New England took advantage of the miscue, as Mac Jones found Ty Montgomery five plays later for a six-yard touchdown. [Patriots 7 : 17 Dolphins]
Miami’s second drive of the half started with Tyreek Hill yet again, as he hauled in an 18-yard catch and run. The Dolphins then turned to Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert on the ground before settling for a 49-yard field goal. [Patriots 7 : 20 Dolphins]
Injury Update: Adrian Phillips (ribs) was downgraded to out
To start the fourth quarter, right tackle Justin Herron took over for Isaiah Wynn. After four straight runs, the Patriots third-down pass fell incomplete facing an all-out blitz. However, a pair of offsetting penalties gave the Patriots another chance, but Jones’ pass again fell incomplete.
Looking to put the nail in New England’s coffin, the Patriots defense held strong. Miami went three-and-out after an incompletion to Tyreek Hill, eight-yard gain by Cedrick Wilson, and a strong run-stuff by Ja’Whaun Bentley on third down.
Needing a score, the Patriots were forced to go for it on fourth-and-three from midfield. With Miami bringing just a three-man rush, Jones lofted a pass downfield to Hunter Henry which was knocked down by Kader Kohou for an incompletion.
After converting a third-and-seven to open their next drive, Ja’Whaun Bentley sacked Tua for a 12-yard loss on the following third-down. A delay of game penalty pushed Miami five-yards further backwards before their punt, which was downed at the five-yard line by former Patriot Keion Crossen.
New England’s offense finally struck the big play they needed, as Jones found Kendrick Bourne - on the receiver’s second snap of the game - down the right sideline for 41-yards. Two plays later, a big hit by Kohou on Nelson Agholor knocked the football loose, which Miami recovered.
Miami kept the ball in the air despite their double digit lead and under five minutes remaining. On third-down, Chase Edmonds broke off a 15-yard catch and run, eluding both Mack Wilson and Jalen Mills in the process for a first-down. Raheem Mostert than broke off an 11-yard run leading to the two-minute warning. Miami was then able to run out the clock. [Patriots 7 : 20 Dolphins]