Tyreek Hill became the first player in the Super Bowl era with more than 1,000 receiving yards in the first eight games of any season, and the Miami Dolphins outlasted the New England Patriots, 31-17, on Sunday in front of 65,836 fans at Hard Rock Stadium.
Hill, more than halfway toward accomplishing his goal of becoming the first player to ever have 2,000 receiving yards in a season, led a balanced Dolphins attack that helped to complete a season sweep of the rival Patriots.
Along the way, Tua Tagovailoa improved to 6-0 against New England, and he now has the most regular-season wins for any quarterback against Patriots coach Bill Belichick in NFL history.
Tagovailoa also posted his third game with more than 300 passing yards and three or more touchdowns this season, as the Dolphins (6-2) pushed the last-place Patriots to 2-6.
“This was big for us, a home game against a division opponent, and it’s awesome to be a part of,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said before singling out Hill and Tagovailoa. “Both of those guys wanted to win the game.”
They weren’t alone. The Dolphins’ dynamic receiving tandem of Hill and Jaylen Waddle combined for 233 receiving yards, and each topped 100 in the same game for the fifth time as teammates.
“A lot of people doubted me saying I couldn’t do this and do that, but it’s all about believing in yourself,” Hill said, referring to his historical totals. “That’s the one thing my mom and dad always taught me. Here I am. I’m very blessed, very thankful to be in this position and no greater day to do it. I have my kids here, so, no greater day to do it.”
The Dolphins have been dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball this season, but the return of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey proved to be exactly what the defense needed. Ramsey recorded an interception in the red zone preventing the Patriots from scoring just before halftime while returning it 49 yards.
Ramsey played every single defensive snap in the first half, also forcing a fumble that fell out of bounds.
“It felt good. Don’t get it twisted I’m happy I made the interception, I definitely don’t want that to be the storyline,” Ramsey said. “I just want to talk about how we got a good, hard-fought division win. My success comes from the preparation I put in and the team around me. It’s not just me, I work really hard during the week and to prepare myself to feeling like Jalen Ramsey. It was a great, hard-fought team for the win.”
But the Patriots punched the Dolphins in the mouth in the first quarter forcing a Tagovaiola interception that led to a Mac Jones touchdown to receiver Kendrick Bourne. The Dolphins responded with 17 unanswered points, however, including a Tua Tagovailoa 42-yard touchdown pass to Hill.
A Raheem Mostert rushing touchdown in the third quarter made it a 24-10 lead for the Dolphins, and the Patriots could not consistently mount offense the rest of the way.
“Obviously we had some chances, just couldn’t make enough plays,” Belichick said. “Miami made some good plays at the right time, and it was kind of the difference in the game. There were a handful of plays that we just have to do a better job on.”
The Patriots had life with just more than eight minutes left when Jones threw a touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster making it a one possession game. But the high-powered Dolphins offense could not stop getting first downs on a drive that was capped off by Waddle’s 32-yard touchdown to seal the game.
“Offensively, (we just) didn’t have enough production. It’s the National Football League against a really good team. They made some plays out there,” Jones said. “It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day, we had it to a one-score game and couldn’t capitalize from the offensive side.”
Next up, the Dolphins will travel to Germany to take on the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) in Frankfurt Stadium on Sunday.
The Patriots, meanwhile, will play host to the Washington Commanders (3-5) on Sunday, in Foxborough, Massachusetts.