The Miami Dolphins escaped with a 17-16 season-opening win over the New England Patriots in Foxborough. It was a tough, hard-fought win which is typical in New England. Wins like yesterday are hard to come by. In fact, more often than not, the Dolphins lose games like that up there, but this was different because the Patriots made the mistakes in key moments and not the Dolphins. The Patriots had an unpatriotic like 3 personal foul penalties and 2 turnovers, including the fumble that decided the game at the end.
The Dolphins weren’t perfect by any stretch at all. In fact, at times, they looked bad, especially on defense, which gave up 125 yards rushing, generated no pass rush, and gave up 11 of 16 3rd down conversions. They did force the Patriots to settle for 3 field goals in 5 red zone trips and forced the big turnover at the end, but the Dolphins have to get better. The Patriots’ offensive line won the battle of the line of scrimmage against the Dolphins defensive line, and most of the time, it will result in a loss when you lose the line of scrimmage plays against them.
The Dolphins overcame some bad officiating errors like the horrible roughing the passer penalty on Elandon Roberts that would have forced a field goal, but instead gave the Patriots a first down and ended up scoring their only touchdown of the game. Frankly, it was a BS call and shouldn’t have been called because Roberts was trying to sack the quarterback, and his momentum took him low on Mac Jones, who was still in the pocket with the ball in his hands, there was no intent to hurt him just Roberts trying to make a play. Then at the end of the first half, the Patriots were called for an offsides penalty, but no Dolphins players moved, so the play should have continued to give the Dolphins a free play. However, the play was ruled dead, and the Dolphins had two go routes with a safety on the other side, and it could have been a big play and potentially a touchdown. Head coach Briand Flores was extremely upset and for a good reason at the officials and justifiably so. The Dolphins ended up getting a field goal on the drive before the half to tie the game, but it could have been more if the play wasn’t ruled dead.
The Dolphins had their moments on offense, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa scoring touchdowns on the opening possessions of the first and second half. However, the Dolphins had a lot of issues as well. Their offensive line didn’t give Tagovailoa a lot of time to throw or step up in his throws and didn’t create a lot of running lanes for the most part. Tagovailoa also had a critical turnover throwing a bad interception mid-way through the 4th quarter when he should have taken a sack when getting pressured instead of trying to make a play. It was that miscue that gave the Patriots the ball and got them in position to potentially win the game until the defense bailed him out with the fumble recovery.
Tagovailoa and the offense did have their moments during the game that showed this offense would be better. He threw the ball down the field more and connected on big throws to Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker that led to scores. He also made a big throw on a quick slant pass to Parker on first down on the last drive to run out the clock after getting backed up to his own 4-yard line. Think about it how many times have we seen the Dolphins lose close games to the Patriots up there when backed up inside their own 5-yard line? I remember in 2002 when they backed up inside their own 2-yard line and going 3 and out to have a shanked punt allowing the Patriots to eventually win the game. After the throw to Parker, the offense was able to get two first downs, and the game was over. The Patriots still had 3 timeouts and the two-minute warning. With the offense struggling at times, it seemed like too big a task, but they found a way to carve out some running lanes and sealed the win. Honestly, nobody is talking about how the Dolphins were able to run the final 3:30 off the clock. Coming up with a drive like that to get a couple of first downs and run out the clock isn’t something the Dolphins have done over the years, but they found a way.
All things considered, the Dolphins were outgained and outplayed, but they found a way to win which is the most important thing. It’s hard to win on the road on opening day, especially against a division rival. Most people will talk about the play of Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and how well he looked. He did look good, but he didn’t finish drives off, whereas Tagovailoa did, and that was the difference in the game and the turnovers. I have no doubt the Dolphins will play better moving forward, and 1-0 is better than 0-1 no matter how you put it. It was a great character win for this team to find a way to win. Now it’s on to Buffalo and go for 2-0.