Mike McDaniel’s Miami Dolphins are looking to open 2-0 for the second consecutive year. Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots are hoping to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2001.
These AFC East rivals renew their series on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. For the Dolphins, it’s a second straight road game. For the Pats, they’re at home for the second consecutive Sunday.
All-Time Series Record
These teams have met three times in the playoffs with the Patriots prevailing in two of those games. That includes the 1985 AFC Championship Game at the Orange Bowl when New England came up with a 31-14 win on the way to the club’s first Super Bowl appearance. Factor that into the overall standings between the franchises and the Dolphins still own a five-game lead (60-55) in this rivalry that dates back to 1966.
The Last Time(s)
This is a divisional game so there will be a look at both of the club’s meetings in 2022.
Dolphins 20, Patriots 7 (Week 1): It was Mike McDaniel’s debut as an NFL head coach and the Dolphins got off to a fast start thanks to a pair of first-half takeaways. The second was a two-yard fumble return by Melvin Ingram for a TD. The Patriots turned over the ball three times and were limited to 271 total yards
Patriots 23, Dolphins 21 (Week 17): Teddy Bridgewater was Miami’s starting quarterback at Foxborough. He was injured after throwing a pick-six late in the third quarter. Skylar Thompson replaced Bridgewater but also threw an interception. The Dolphins’ defense limited the Pats to 249 yards but still fell short.
Most Memorable Meeting
On the opening Sunday of the 1994 season, the teams engaged in an entertaining shootout in South Florida. New England (472) and Miami (525) combined for 997 total yards and 74 points. Dolphins’ quarterback Dan Marino threw for 473 yards and five scores (1 interception), outdueling the Patriots’ Drew Bledsoe (421 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs). Don Shula’s team rallied from a 21-10 third-quarter deficit.
Key to the Game
Miami must keep quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out of harm’s way against a solid New England defense that last week limited the Eagles to 251 total yards and one offensive TD albeit in a 25-20 loss. The Pats’ pass rush sacked Jalen Hurts three times.
You could make the case Bill Belichick’s team outplayed Philadelphia the final three quarters. Tagovailoa must be patient against a unit that gave up only 4.1 yards per play.
Dolphins Player to Watch
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins logged 68 defensive snaps last week vs. the Chargers and finished with one solo tackle and two assists. The Dolphins’ safety combination of Jevon Holland (14) and DeShon Elliott (13) were 1-2 in stops last Sunday.
Coordinator Vic Fangio may need a lot more from his front seven on Sunday night. Hard to ignore the fact that the Miami defense allowed 234 yards rushing last Sunday.