It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but the Miami Dolphins found a way to win their opening game of the season, defeating division rival New England Patriots.
After a long and eventful off-season, the Miami Dolphins began the 2022 NFL season on Sunday by playing host to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. There were ups and downs for both teams, and the contest wasn’t the visually pleasing one that we had hoped for, but the Dolphins came out with an important victory to start the year.
For the most part, Miami was methodical. Each of their three first half possessions had double-digit play totals, and the defense felt like a “bend-but-don’t-break” unit that stayed true to their identity. We didn’t see the explosive offensive plays that we had been dreaming about for the last 5 months, but it only took one tackle slip from Jaylen Waddle to give the Dolphins a commanding lead that they would never relinquish.
It was one of three plays that defined the game for the Dolphins.
Miami held the momentum for much of the game, but they had to steal it away from New England early on. The Patriots received the opening kick, and moved the ball with ease on the opening possession, making it all the way to the Dolphins 22-yard line before an interception from the combined efforts of Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland in the end zone stopped their progress. It would turn in to a field foal for Miami.
Two possessions later and down 3-0, the Patriots were set up inside their own 20-yard line when a perfectly disguised safety blitz by Brandon Jones dislodged the ball from Mac Jones’ hands. The fumble was recovered by Melvin Ingram for the first touchdown of the season.
Then, just before halftime, the Dolphins faced a 4th-and-7 situation with less than 30-seconds left. Instead of a pooch punt or a 60-yard field goal, first-time head coach Mike McDaniel decided to go for it, and the play resulted in a 42-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Jaylen Waddle, giving Miami a 17-0 halftime lead.
Aside from a 15-play, 92 yard touchdown drive from the Patriots in the third quarter, there wasn’t much happening in the second half. The Dolphins played mostly conservatively in trying to protect their lead, and New England just didn’t have enough firepower on its roster to be able to mount a comeback.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed 23 of 33 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown, and did not turn the ball over. His QBR was 78.2. In comparison, his counterpart Mac Jones threw for 213 yards, threw a touchdown and an interception, and finished with a 9.7 QBR.
The running game was slow to get off the ground, and Miami amassed just 65 yards on 23 attempts. Tyreek Hill finished his South Florida debut with 8 catches for 94 yards, but failed to find the end zone.
As for the defense, there were impressive performances all around. Brandon Jones caused the fumble that lead to one of the team’s two touchdowns, and he also had a nice pass breakup to go along with his 11 total tackles. Melvin Ingram was one of the few linebackers who produced any kind of positive results, though the defensive line did a nice job in hiding the LBs deficiencies. Jones and Emmanuel Ogbah recorded the team’s two sacks.
The Dolphins will take on a tougher opponent next week, and will do so on the road. They will travel to Baltimore to take on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens next Sunday.