Dolphins Hold Off Patriots, New England Starts 0-2 For First Time Since 2001
BY KYLE HIGHTOWER
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa has heard a lot during his NFL career about his shortcomings. Beating the New England Patriots continues not to be one of them.
Raheem Mostert had a pair of TD runs, including a 43-yard romp in the fourth quarter, and Tagovailoa added a 2-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill to help the Miami Dolphins hold off the Patriots 24-17 on Sunday night.
With the the victory, Tagovailoa improved to 5-0 against New England coach Bill Belichick.
“It’s never a me thing,” Tagovailoa said. “Every time we face coach Belichick’s team it’s always a challenge, and we know we’re going to get their best. … We’re going to take them however they come.”
Mostert carried 18 times for 121 yards and Tagovailoa completed 21 of 30 passes for 249 yards and an interception. Jaylen Waddle added four catches for 86 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter following a hit by Marte Mapu.
“One hundred yards is hard to come by especially in a passing league. That means everything was going on all cylinders,” Mostert said.
After opening with two road wins, the Dolphins will try for their second straight 3-0 start under coach Mike McDaniel when they host Denver next weekend.
New England dropped to 0-2 for the first time since 2001, which was Belichick’s second season as coach.
Trailing 24-17, the Patriots appeared to keep their hopes alive by converting a miraculous fourth-and-4 on the Dolphins 33. Mac Jones completed a pass to Mike Gesicki short of the first down marker, but the tight end spun and flipped the ball to left guard Cole Strange, who lunged forward.
It was originally called a first down, but a review showed Strange was short of the needed yardage, turning the ball over on downs. Miami then ran the clock out.
Jones finished 31 of 42 for 231 yards, a touchdown and interception.
“Just wasn’t our day. Hasn’t been our day for the last two weeks,” he said.
After back-to-back losses in which the Patriots have faced big deficits, tight end Hunter Henry said it’s clear mistakes are hurting them. On Sunday, a first-quarter fumble by rookie Demario Douglas set up Miami’s first TD, an 8-yard run by Mostert in the second quarter.
“It’s very frustrating,” Henry said. “Obviously, you look at the plays at the end of the game, and we need to be better at that for sure. But we need to be better in the game, to not put ourselves in that position.”
The Patriots played short-handed in the secondary after starting cornerback Jonathan Jones was ruled out prior to kickoff with an ankle injury. They took another hit in the second quarter when Marcus Jones left with a shoulder issue.
The Dolphins took advantage as Tagovailoa spread the ball around to eight different receivers, including nine completions to Hill and Waddle.
Defensively, Miami recovered Douglas’ fumble. Then, leading 17-3 in the third quarter, Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard grabbed an underthrown pass from Jones that was intended for DeVante Parker inside the 5.
Miami punted the ball back and New England found some traction, using an 18-yard run by Jones and a holding penalty on Howard to help set up a 6-yard TD pass from Jones to Hunter Henry.
New England got the ball right back when Tagovailoa had a deep pass intended for Hill intercepted by Christian Gonzalez. But backed up, the Patriots went three-and-out.
Then, on the first play after the changeover, Mostert took a handoff, found a seam in the middle of the Patriots defense and sprinted for his 43-yard TD.
New England marched right down the field and closed to 24-17 on Rhamondre Stevenson’s 2-yard touchdown run, capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive.
Miami had the ball on its own 30 when Tagovailoa missed on a pass to Waddle. But Mapu was called for unnecessary roughness, giving the Dolphins a first down near midfield.
The Dolphins had a chance to extend their lead with a 55-yard field goal attempt by Jason Sanders, but it missed wide left.
McDaniel didn’t have an update on Waddle’s status, but Tagovailoa said the receiver was in “good spirits.”
McDaniel only confirmed he went in for evaluation.
Dolphins: RB Salvon Ahmed also left with a groin injury.
Patriots: CB Marcus Jones injured his shoulder after tackling Waddle early in the second quarter and did not return.
Near the end of the game Hill could be seen waving at Patriots fans as he exited the field.
“Those fans are some of the worst fans in the NFL, and I’m going to stand on that,” Hill said. “They’re real nasty and some of the things that they’re saying, I wouldn’t say in church. It felt great to wave goodbye to the fans, and I’ll do it again. Bye.”
Dolphins: Host the Broncos next Sunday.
Patriots: At the Jets next Sunday.