Tua’s TD pass, turnover by Howard lift Dolphins over Pats
Tua Tagovailoa threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle in the third quarter and Xavien Howard recovered a fumble with New England driving in the fourth to help the Miami Dolphins hold on for a 17-16 win over the Patriots on Sunday.
It was Miami's second straight win over the Patriots. Tagovailoa also led the Dolphins to a win in the second meeting between the teams last season.
Tagovailoa finished 16 of 27 for 202 yards, a touchdown and one interception, and also had a 3-yard TD run to lead a revamped offense that kept the Patriots' rebuilt defense guessing, mixing in no-huddle and empty backfield formations. DeVante Parker caught four passes for 81 yards.
Miami's win spoiled the debut of New England's Mac Jones, who became the first rookie quarterback to start for the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. Jones was 29 of 39 for 281 yards and a touchdown. Damien Harris rushed 23 times for 100 yards, but had the costly fumble to end New England's comeback hopes.
Miami took a 17-10 lead in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown from Tagovailoa to Waddle.
The Patriots cut it to 17-13 in the fourth when they ate up more than five minutes of the clock to drive inside the Dolphins 15. But it stalled there and Nick Folk's third field goal made it 17-16 with 10:36 left.
On their ensuing drive, the Dolphins were facing third-and-7 on their own 43 when Tagovailoa was flushed out of the pocket and heaved a pass toward the sideline. The ball was tipped and intercepted by Jonathan Jones, giving the ball back to the Patriots at midfield with just over eight minutes remaining.
New England moved all the way to the Miami 11. But on the next play, a 2-yard run by Harris ended with him losing the ball on a hit by Howard. Howard recovered it and the Dolphins took over on their own 9. They were able to run out the clock.
Tagovailoa completed several deep passes on the Patriots secondary, taking advantage of the absence of cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of Year started the season on the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least the first six games.
Jones was efficient for most of the game, spreading the ball around to multiple receivers and finding soft spots in the Miami defense for chunk plays. Penalties hurt the Patriots, though, negating big gains and forcing the offense to settle for field goals.
Both offenses had early success moving the ball, but the Dolphins got on the scoreboard first.
Harris had the first big play of the day, slipping through a big hole in middle of Miami's defense on the game's opening snap for a 35-yard gain.
It was one of four straight running plays by New England before Jones dropped back to pass for the first time. The play ended with him forcing an awkward throw behind the line of scrimmage that was batted to the turf by Christian Wilkins. The ball rolled free before being recovered by Jonnu Smith for a loss of 9 yards. New England punted two plays later.
Miami took over and mixed in some short passes by Tagovailoa and runs by Myles Gaskin to quickly get into the red zone.
The 10-play, 80-yard drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Tagovailoa to help put Miami in front 7-0.
Dolphins: DT Raekwon Davis limped off early in the first quarter with a knee injury.
Patriots: OT Trent Brown left in the first quarter with a right calf injury.
Dolphins: Host Buffalo next Sunday.
Patriots: Visit the New York Jets next Sunday.