By: Brandon Liguori
Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones, two first-round draftees out of the University of Alabama, battled to the very end in Sunday’s season-opening contest in front of a hostile Gillette Stadium crowd, but when it was all said and done, Xavien Howard’s fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter sealed a 17-16 win for Brian Flores’ group, putting the Dolphins alone atop the AFC East after one week of play.
Sunday’s win was just the second time since 2008 that Miami walked out of Gillette Stadium victorious. “Feels good to win. Credit to the players, our coaching staff, offensively, defensively, in the kicking game. Tough game,” Flores said. Tagovailoa, finishing 16-for-27 with 202 yards, a touchdown and an interception, hoisted an ugly fourth-quarter interception on third down to put Jones’ group in great position to run the clock and kick the potential game-winning field goal.
Instead, Howard, fresh off a reconstructed contract this past August, picked up a Damien Harris fumble on 2nd-and-5 from the Miami 22, pretty much ending any hopes of a Patriots come-from-behind victory. “Yeah, I was trying to throw the ball away, but unfortunately that’s not what happened,” Tagovailoa said after the game.
Jones, who threw for 281 yards in his first start of his career, tossed his first NFL touchdown to newly-acquired receiver Nelson Agholor, giving Bill Belichick’s group a 10-7 lead late in the first half. The Patriots would not lead again.
Opening the second half, Tagovailoa was the captain of a nine-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in Jaylen Waddle’s first touchdown as a professional, putting Brian Flores’ group back in front by a touchdown, 17-10.
“It was great. It was a great play call. I think my teammates did good just helping me get open. It was a great call,” Waddle said.
The Dolphins were without two wide receivers Sunday: Preston Williams, ruled out prior to the start of the game because Williams is still rehabbing from a foot injury suffered a season ago and Will Fuller, who finished the final game of his six-game suspension dating back to last season due to violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy.
Miami has a wonderful opportunity to secure a second consecutive AFC East win and improve to 2-0 in Week 2, welcoming Josh Allen and the talented Buffalo Bills (0-1) to Hard Rock Stadium next Sunday afternoon, as the Dolphins open the home portion of their 2021-22 campaign.
Latest Dolphins News