Mike McDaniel earns first victory of coaching career as Tyreek Hill leads Dolphins to season-opening win over Patriots

Hard Rock Stadium Miami Dolphins – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by YES Market Media

For all the buzz stirred about the changes the Miami Dolphins made this offseason, the team made it to its first victory on Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

The Dolphins’ defense used three key turnovers and stifled the Patriots for most of a 20-7 victory at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

This was the Dolphins’ fourth consecutive win against the Patriots and second in just as many games after the Dolphins finished the 2021 season with a win over New England at home.

The Dolphins utilized a recovered pair of fumbles and set the tone on New England’s first drive when Mac Jones was intercepted by Jevon Holland off a deflection in the end zone by Xavien Howard.

Holland made the first big play of what fans believe could be a breakout season. Holland was able to run underneath and secure his first interception of the year after he tipped up a pass intended for former Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker in the corner of the end zone.

The Dolphins held the Patriots to 78 rushing yards with New England only crossing the Dolphins’ 40 twice.

Miami sacked Jones twice within the first, giving Miami their first touchdown of the season.

Brandon Jones soared through the field untouched on a safety blitz, jarring the ball loose from Mac Jones who eventually gave Melvin Ingram the opportunity to grab it on a high bounce with his left hand and return it into the end zone. 

Jones was able to complete 21 of 30 passes for a total of 213 yards, while his 6-yard touchdown pass to Ty Montgomery stopped New England’s long scoring drive.

Tua Tagovailoa made history by becoming the first quarterback in the NFL to begin his career 4-0 against a Bill Belichick-coached team. Tagovailoa completed 23 of 33 passes for a total of 270 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions.

Tyreek Hill did not score a touchdown in his debut game with the Dolphins, but he led the team with eight catches for 94 yards and displayed the dynamic playmaking talent that Miami hopes will elevate its offense this year.

The touchdown pass came on a gamble right before halftime when Jaylen Waddle and Tua ran a play they had done countless times in their college years at Alabama.

With 18 seconds left, Tagovailoa hit Jaylen Waddle on a slant across the middle on fourth-and-8 from New England’s 42. Miami led 17-0 at the half when Waddle sprinted by both converging defenders to score.

Miami’s defense made the final key stops late to halt the Patriots.

The Patriots were penalized for holding even though tight end Hunter Henry dropped Jones’ throw while covering him as New England faced a fourth and 3 at the 50. 

With 4:55 remaining, Jaelan Phillips recovered after cornerback Kader Kohou hit Nelson Agholor during the Patriots’ final offensive series, effectively securing the win. 

The Dolphins also demonstrated the potential to be among the NFL’s top special teams units this year.

The Patriots needed to go 92 yards to complete their lone touchdown drive in the third quarter, but Justin Bethel’s outstanding open-field tackle on Myles Bryant after he caught Thomas Morstead’s punt gave them the opportunity to do so. 

With 6:06 remaining in the fourth, Keion Crossen again made a crucial play when he blocked another Morstead punt at the Patriots’ 5.

Are you interested in Florida sports? For stories like this and much more: Florida Insider is dedicated to educating, entertaining and informing its readers about everything Florida. Easy to read content at the palm of your hands and covering the stories that matter.