The New England Patriots dropped their season opener against the Miami Dolphins with a final score of 20-7, and for safety Devin McCourty it all came down to one thing. Taking the podium after the defeat, McCourty was asked to sum up the contest and he pointed towards the high number of negative plays preventing the team from staying competitive.
“Too many bad plays,” the veteran defender said. “It wasn’t a game where we just got completely dominated, but you can’t win in this league with bad plays. We just had too many bad plays, defensively specifically.”
New England opened the game in encouraging fashion, quickly marching into potential scoring range before a Mac Jones interception killed the drive. Miami took a 3-0 lead on the ensuing possession and never looked back.
That turnover was the first of three for the Patriots, and they set up half of Miami’s 20 points. For McCourty, however, the issue extended beyond the offense giving the ball away too many times. Instead, he thinks a culmination of issues and unfortunate timing were to blame.
“Turnovers, bad plays, defense missing tackles, things like that, it’s too hard to win in this league,” he said. “Almost gave ourselves a chance, and then another bad play. It’s just too much to overcome.”
Head coach Bill Belichick echoed those sentiments, claiming that the Patriots and Dolphins were meeting eye-to-eye — with a few game-changing exceptions.
“It was really a pretty even game,” Belichick said. “Two big plays, 14 points, really skewed the game.”
The first of those two plays was a strip-sack against Jones; the Dolphins recovered the loose football and returned it for a touchdown to go up 10-0. The second was a 42-yard pass from Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa to wide receiver Jalen Waddle that did not just convert a fourth down but eventually resulted in a touchdown with only 18 seconds left in the first half.
The Patriots entered the half 17-0, but even at that point McCourty saw potential for the team to climb out of its hole. However, the story was the same after the break.
“We still had a whole half of football, and we got momentum, we got going,” he said. “But then again, like another missed tackle here or there, turnover. Just couldn’t overcome it.”