In Week One, the Miami Dolphins were victorious, beating the Patriots 17-16 on the road, only the third win out of their last 14 attempts in New England. There were touchdowns from Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle, which were the difference in what was a defensive battle between two AFC East rivals.
So how did the game go down? Here are three takeaways from the Week One road win.

Defense Will Be The X-Factor For Miami This Season

The Dolphins’ defense was excellent in 2020, and this season has started no different in Week One. Miami had three forced fumbles, from Eric Rowe, Xavien Howard, and rookie Jevon Holland. Howard and Zach Sieler both recorded fumble recoveries.
Miami didn’t record a sack, but they should have been allowed one. Elandon Roberts managed to get to Pats rookie QB Mac Jones but was incorrectly ruled to have roughed the passer on 3rd and 1.
Jones looked comfortable in a Patriots jersey. He showcased some similarities with former QB Tom Brady. Miami did well to contain the former Alabama QB and hold the Patriots to just 16 points. You can argue it was because of the Miami run defense, the only negative takeaway from that side of the ball. New England running back Damien Harris was allowed to run for 100 yards from 23 carries. However, Jones would often find the right pass and make the right play on 3rd downs when a turnover on downs seemed inevitable, earning a 68.8% conversion rate on third downs.
However, there was one player that stood out on defense for the Dolphins.
Loading
Loading...

Xavien Howard Shows Value In Week One: Repays Dolphins For Restructuring Contract

Howard was Miami’s best defensive player last season and once again showed his worth in week one. Miami recorded a fumble recovery in the first quarter, but this play resulted in a turnover in downs. However, Howard’s fourth-quarter heroics helped seal the game for the Dolphins, as Brian Flores’ men ran the clock down.
The Patriots were eleven yards from the end zone. There was 3:36 remaining in the fourth quarter and New England were in first down territory. Jones handed the ball off to Harris, who was tackled by Harris, which caused a forced fumble and turnover. New England never had possession again. Had Howard been allowed to leave this offseason, then the Patriots could have gone on to win this game by either a field goal or touchdown. Howard’s forced fumble won the game for the Dolphins. This shows how key it is to keep your best players.
X requested a trade this offseason before he and the Dolphins agreed on a restructured contract.

Tua: Improvement In Week One But Still Work To Do

Miami’s QB1 had a mostly positive afternoon. It is hard to think of a quarterback that has split opinions so much after just one season as a pro.
His first drive was impressive, with a rushing touchdown to show for it. He found throws to Durham Smythe and Salvon Ahmed on consecutive 2nd downs that went for big gains, earning first down possessions. The series would end in a rushing touchdown for Tagovailoa. He faked a hand-off to running back Gaskin, scrambling for the end zone and the 7-0 lead.
Tua looked far more comfortable in this game, as was the theme of his preseason. His throw to Jaylen Waddle that earned his former teammate his first NFL touchdown was just one of many impressive deep throws, a part of his game that was missing last season. He also threw a 23-yard pass and 30-yard pass to wide receiver DeVante Parker and a 36-yard pass to Waddle. However, there were parts of his game we saw last season that still existed in this game. He failed to deal with pressure when it came his way and made a poor decision when he threw for an interception rather than simply throwing it away.
Tua finished with 202 yards and 2 total touchdowns (1 passing, one rushing), and 1 interception. He finished with a 59.3 % completion rate (16 of 27). His performance allowed Waddle to finish with 61 yards and 1 touchdown and Parker to finish with 81 yards.

The Stats

MIA

NE

First Downs

16

24

Rush-Yds-TDs

23-74-1

30-125-0

Cmp-Att-Yd-TD-INT

16-27-202-1-1

29-39-281-1-0

Sacked-Yards

2-17

1-13

Net Pass Yards

185

268

Total Yards

259

393

Fumbles-Lost

0-0

4-2

Turnovers

1

2

Penalties-Yards

5-28

8-84

Third Down Conv.

4-11

11-16

Fourth Down Conv.

0-0

0-0

Time of Possession

23:17

36:43

Next Up For Miami?

With the NY Jets and Buffalo Bills both losing on Sunday, the Dolphins are the only team 1-0 after week one. This subsequently has the Dolphins top of the division. With a home game against the Bills next Sunday in a huge game, can Miami build momentum off this win against the Patriots and gain a two-game lead on last season’s division champions?