Mike McDaniel begins Dolphins coaching tenure with a dominant win versus the Patriots

The Miami Dolphins started their regular season with a convincing 20-7 win against their division rivals, the New England Patriots. This game marks the second consecutive year the Dolphins have played and defeated the Patriots in the season opener, having won last year’s matchup 17-16 in Foxborough. With both offenses struggling to find consistency in this game, Miami’s defense proved everything fans hoped for after a promising 2021 campaign. 

“This is still the defense’s team,” head coach Mike McDaniel said after the win. “They [the defense] have a standard that they want to employ.”

The Dolphin defense forced three turnovers in this game, including a fumble recovered by linebacker Melvin Ingram that was returned for a touchdown in the second quarter. Additionally, safety Jevon Holland intercepted a pass in the end zone on the first drive of the game when corner Xavien Howard tipped the ball away from DeVante Parker. Finally, defensive back Kader Kohou managed to forced wide receiver Nelson Agholor to fumble late in the game to seal the win. 

Miami’s offense only managed to find the end zone one time, but it had a fair share of bright spots throughout the game. Tua Tagovailoa started his third season as a pro with a solid performance going 23 of 33 on pass attempts throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown. The lone touchdown was caught by Tagovailoa’s former Alabama teammate, Jaylen Waddle, a connection Dolphins fans enjoyed last year. 

McDaniel has received his fair share of praise after deciding to make this play call on fourth down with only about 30 seconds remaining in the half. Tagovailoa found Waddle in stride between three New England defenders, allowing the speedy receiver to outpace everyone to the end zone. 

The Patriots struggled to put together competent drives, which worsened  the large turnover differential. 

“Obviously have to do a much better job on that, coaching, execution, everything,” head coach Bill Belichick told reporters following the loss. “There’s some positive things to build on, but plenty of things to work on.”

New England is its third season without future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. While the organization believes they have finally found the successor to Brady with Mac Jones, the sophomore struggled to build off a strong rookie season in his first game of the season.

Jones went 21 of 30 for 213 yards with one touchdown, an interception, and a fumble lost. The former Alabama quarterback led his team to its only score during the first drive of the third quarter with a short pass to running back Ty Montgomery for a six-yard touchdown. Apart from Jones, the Patriots received solid contributions from running back Damien Harris who finished the game with 48 yards on nine carries. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne did not play many snaps but made one of the few big plays for New England with a 41-yard catch late in the fourth quarter.

The bad news continued for the Patriots after the game when it was announced Jones would need X-Rays as a result of a back injury suffered during the game. The quarterback is questionable to play next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Dolphins look ahead to the Baltimore Ravens who they will visit next Sunday at 1 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are coming off of a convincing 24-9 win against the New York Jets in Week 1. Baltimore will be led by South Florida native, Lamar Jackson, who has proven to be one of the most prolific offensive players over the course of his young career.

The game will be broadcast on CBS4 in South Florida.

Anthony Blanco is a senior majoring in Digital Journalism with hopes of pursuing a career in sports journalism. Anthony is passionate about covering sports and hopes to one day make his passion his profession.