Patriots

5 takeaways from the Patriots’ Week 1 loss vs. the Dolphins

Mistakes and turnovers unsurprisingly proved to be the difference in yet another loss in Miami.

Mac Jones
Mac Jones is hit from behind by Dolphins defender Brandon Jones. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Patriots lost to the Dolphins 20-7 on Sunday in the 2022 season opener.

After traveling to Miami several days earlier than usual to help cope with the heat, the results proved to be underwhelming. The Dolphins have now defeated the Patriots in four straight meetings, with New England falling to 2-8 in the last 10 games played in Miami.

Here are a few takeaways:

Turnovers proved costly in a game where the margins were tight.

At the end of the day, the Patriots — a team that during Bill Belichick’s time has prided itself on making fewer mistakes than its opponent — finished with three turnovers and a missed fourth down (resulting in a turnover on downs). The Dolphins had zero turnovers.

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As the margins in the game were slim, with both teams running a similar number of plays (59 for the Dolphins, 54 for the Patriots) and gaining a comparable amount of total yards (307 vs. 271), any mistake would loom large.

Not surprisingly, both first half turnovers proved costly for the Patriots, as the Dolphins responded with 10 total points.

“You can’t win until you keep from losing,” said center David Andrews after the game, summing up the Patriots’ frustrating day.

The Patriots’ offense did not perform.

The initial returns of the new-look offense appeared to produce immediate results as the Patriots took the opening drive of the game down the field to the Miami 22-yard line.

But after starting 3-3, Jones’s shot to DeVante Parker in the end zone was tipped away and intercepted.

From that point on, New England struggled to move the ball consistently.

And on the team’s third drive, disaster struck when Dolphins defensive back Brandon Jones snuck in unblocked from Jones’s blind side, sacking him and causing a fumble in the process. Miami defensive end Melvin Ingram scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown.

The Patriots produced one touchdown drive on the day, marching 92 yards on 15 plays in the third quarter with Ty Montgomery scoring on a six-yard pass to make it a 17-7 game.

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But even on that otherwise successful drive, it would have ended on another failed fourth down attempt had it not been for Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard committing a penalty against Parker (resulting in a fresh set of downs).

Jones finished the day 21-30 for 213 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception. Jakobi Meyers led New England with four catches for 55 yards.

The offensive line struggled with consistency.

One of the questions facing the Patriots entering the season was the offensive line and the increased usage of zone blocking.

Despite some early gains, the line was unable to get much movement against the Dolphins’ defensive front for much of the day.

In all, New England rushed for 78 yards on 22 carries (averaging 3.5 yards per carry).

In pass protection, a few high-profile mistakes (such as the first-half sack on Jones that resulted in Ingram’s touchdown), doomed any success the line experienced.

The defense allowed a big play at the worst time.

After allowing an uncharacteristically bad 4.5 yards per carry as a defense in 2021, Belichick’s defense performed much better against the run on Sunday.

Miami struggled mightily, gaining just 65 yards on the ground on 23 carries (2.8 yards per carry).

In the air, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was able to avoid mistakes (and turnovers). He finished his day 23-33 for 270 yards in the air.

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Tagovailoa’s lone touchdown pass came with just 18 seconds remaining in the first half, as he found Jaylen Waddle over the middle. Waddle broke free and sprinted 42 yards for the score. It was a colossal mistake from New England, as Miami went from attempting to simply add a field goal before halftime to notching an electrifying touchdown.

In the second half, the defense yielded just a field goal to Miami, forcing multiple three-and-outs.

Tyreek Hill held to a steady but not explosive Dolphins debut.

Coming into the game, one of the major offseason developments was the Dolphins’ addition of Hill.

Adding him to a wide receiving group that also includes Waddle (and a plethora of other talented skill players), the focus was on how Tagovailoa would conduct Miami’s attack.

The 28-year-old wide receiver made an immediate impact in his debut, hauling in six catches in the first half, including a contested grab that helped keep a Miami drive alive.

Still, despite Hill leading in yards and catches, he was mostly held in check by Belichick’s defense.

In the first test for the Patriots’s secondary following the offseason departure of former top cornerback J.C. Jackson, New England managed a decent performance against one of the league’s most explosive players.

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