The Miami Dolphins are alone in first place and have held off the New England Patriots who may have been the better team if not for Xavien Howard. With the game on the line, Howard made his money.
Late in the game, the Patriots were driving and looked to take the league with the ball inside the Dolphins red zone. Needing someone to step up, Xavien Howard became the hero Miami needed and has relied upon so many times, but not in the way you would think.
Damien Harris took the handoff and drove into the Dolphins defense but Howard stripped the ball and fell on top of it ending the Patriots drive to victory. Miami would move the ball out to the 30 yard line where Tua Tagovailoa would take a knee at the 2-minute warning and ending the game.
It wasn’t a great win but it did move the Dolphins into first place by themselves after the Jets and Bills each lost their opening games. On the scoreboard, it will show the Dolphins on top 17-16 but the Patriots doubled the Dolphins time of possession and Miami struggled with consistency.
In the end, the Patriots played a conservative game and it was good enough to keep them in it behind a stout defense that everyone knew would be tough. The Patriots are going to stay in games this year but they need to open their offense up more to put points on the board.
It will be interesting to see what it will all look like in week 18 when the two teams meet in Miami to close the season. The good news is, of course, the Dolphins won. It wasn’t pretty but at times there were signs of what might come for the team.
Next week the Dolphins host the Bills and will get Will Fuller back from suspension. It could make a difference for the Dolphins offense.