Patriots vs. Dolphins thumbs up, thumbs down: Turnovers lead to another loss


For a second straight week the Patriots dug an early hole on the scoreboard in part thanks to a turnover and never could climb out of it, New England falling to 0-2 on the season for the first time since 2001 after the 24-17 loss to the Dolphins.

6 Rings Postgame Show: Another comeback falls short

Like the Eagles a week earlier, Miami drove right down the field on its opening drive but was forced to settle for a field goal. Following a Demario Douglas fumble, the visitors drove to the 10-0 advantage and would swell the halftime lead to 17-3 on two-minute drive in which Tua Tagovailoa completed all seven of his passes, the final a 2-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill.

New England took a knee to end the first half and heard some light boos from the Gillette Stadium crowd.

The Patriots cut it to a one-score game in the fourth quarter before Raheem Mostert essentially closed the door going untouched up the middle for a 43-yard touchdown. But New England got the ball back within a score and was driving late when a crazy completion and Mike Gesicki lateral to Cole Strange was ruled just shy of the fourth-down sticks under replay review.

It was another game where the Patriots did their best to hang with a quality opponent. It was another game where New England made too many mistakes and not enough plays to get the victory.

"Not too much to say after that one," Belichick said. "Tough loss."

Miami’s win improved Mike McDaniel’s team to 2-0 on the season, atop the AFC East. While the Bills and Jets are 1-1, New England sits in last place after two weeks of action.

Before turning the page to next week’s trip to Met Life to take on New York, here are some of the highs and lows from the disappointing loss to the Dolphins.

Thumbs up

Hunter Henry/Mike Gesicki – New England’s tight ends were Mac Jones’ most consistent options on the night. Henry, in particular, had another solid effort with six catches for 52 yards, including slipping out for a nice 6-yard score in the fourth quarter. Gesicki had five catches for 33 yards, including the final offensive play of the game in which he was stopped short on fourth down but tried to make the heady lateral play to Cole Strange in an effort to keep the game alive.

Chad Ryland/Bryce Baringer – New England’s rookie specialists got their jobs done against Miami. Ryland’s first career field goal from 49 yards was the team’s only points in the first half. Baringer showed his diverse skills with a 59-yard punt in the first half and then a 38-yarder in the third quarter down at the Dolphins’ 8. Baringer finished with a 48-yard average on four punts, including three inside the 20.

Brendan Schooler – While Schooler was the guy executing, much credit also needs to go to Joe Judge, Cam Achord and the Patriots special teams coaches for the blocked field goal in the third quarter. With the Dolphins attempting a 49-yard kick, Schooler began wide to the defensive left before running down the line of scrimmage like a motioning wide receiver and then taking a hard left turn at the snap to block the kick easily.

Christian Gonzalez – The rookie No. 1 cornerback saw a lot of Hill on the night and held his own for the most part. Gonzalez wasn’t perfect, but he also out-jumped Hill for his first career interception. With the Patriots cornerback spot banged up – without Jonathan Jones and losing Marcus Jones to injury early on – Gonzalez continues to step up to the challenge and carry more than his own weight.

Thumbs down

Penalties – The Patriots aren’t good enough at this point in the year or their development to overcome mistakes, that’s been proven over two weeks. New England had three penalties in the first half, which isn’t ideal for team that had just 116 yards of total offense at that point. Most costly was a Cole Strange hold that wiped out a nice Mac Jones first down scramble for 5 yards, paving the way for the offense to settle for a 49-yard field goal. Rookie Marte Mapu then had a costly unnecessary roughness penalty for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Jaylen Waddle in the final five minutes, when time and yards wer crucial.

Rhamondre Stevenson – While New England’s new-look makeshift offensive line wasn’t exactly blowing the Dolphins off the ball, Stevenson's bad short-yardage runs all night against Miami. He was too hesitant, pitter pattering rather than lowering the shoulders on his big frame to move the chains. The most glaring example came in the third quarter when Stevenson was stopped short on second-and-1 and then tackled for a 4-yard loss on third down. For a big, powerful runner, Stevenson’s short-yardage work left much to be desired. He also finished with just 3.3 yards per carry a week after the Dolphins gave up more than 230 yards rushing. Stevenson isn't off to a great start to the new season.

Defensive speed – It’s no surprise, but the Patriots’ defense struggled to keep up with the speed of Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Raheem Mostert and the rest of the Dolphins offense. For their talents, guys like Myles Bryant, Jahlani Tavai, Ja’Whuan Bentley, Kyle Dugger and even Christian Gonzalez were chasing faster players making bigger plays, especially in the first half.

Demario Douglas – As far as fumbles go, the rookie receiver’s wasn’t the worst. But a turnover is a turnover is a costly turnover. With New England driving in the first quarter on its second possession, Douglas made a nice stop cut following 10-yard catch-and-run only to have Bradley Chubb chase him down from behind and punch the ball out. Douglas was aware of the costly nature of his fumble, shown by NBC camera’s securing a ball in his right arm – the same spot it was before the turnover – on the bench after the giveaway helped the Dolphins to the 10-0 early lead. Later, Douglas made a suspect decision to return a high Jake Bailey punt and lost a yard on the run.

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