NFL

Tua, Miami Dolphins Get Season Opener Win Over Patriots

With Sunday's win, the Dolphins take sole possession of first place in the AFC East

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The uniforms may not have been crimson and white, but the quarterback battle Sunday in Foxborough would have made any Alabama fan proud.

Fortunately for fans of the Miami Dolphins, round one in the battle went their way.

Tua Tagovailoa threw for just over 200 yards and the defense came up with a crucial turnover late in the fourth quarter to get a 17-16 win over the New England Patriots.

It was Miami’s second straight win over the Patriots. Tagovailoa also led the Dolphins to a win in the second meeting between the teams last season.

"It feels good to win," Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game coming up here against a good team, a well coached team."

Miami (1-0) got on the board first when Tagovailoa ran in a three-yard touchdown in the first quarter. New England would go up in the second quarter after rookie Mac Jones connected with Nelson Agholor for the seven-yard touchdown pass, giving the Patriots a 10-7 lead.

The Dolphins answered back with a 48-yard field goal from Jason Sanders as the first half ended to tie the game at 10.

Miami retook the lead when Tagovailoa threw his first touchdown of 2021, connected with former Alabama teammate and rookie Jaylen Waddle for the three-yard touchdown.

Waddle finished the game with four receptions for 61 yards, while DeVante Parker led all Miami receivers with 81 yards on four receptions. Myles Gaskin led all Dolphins with 49 rushing yards on nine carries.

New England (0-1) cut the deficit to one point after two field goals from Nick Folk and got the ball back in the fourth quarter when Jonathan Jones intercepted a Tagovailoa pass.

"It felt like every time we got a chance to get off the field, they made a play or we had a mistake," Flores said. "But that's what happens in division game. We talked about this being a 60 minute ball game, and that's exactly what this was."

New England moved all the way to the Miami 11. But on the next play, a 2-yard run by Harris ended with him losing the ball on a hit by Xavien Howard. Howard recovered it and the Dolphins took over on their own 9. They were able to run out the clock.

Harris finished the game with 100 yards rushing on 23 carries to lead New England.

"We just battled. We knew we were going to have to battle and I think our guys did that," said Flores.

Tagovailoa would finish the day going 16 of 27, throwing for 202 yards and a touchdown. Jones, who replaced Tua in Alabama and led the Crimson Tide to a national title last season, went 29 of 39 for 281 yards and a touchdown.

Tagovailoa completed several deep passes on the Patriots secondary, taking advantage of the absence of cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of Year started the season on the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least the first six games.

Jones was efficient for most of the game, spreading the ball around to multiple receivers and finding soft spots in the Miami defense for chunk plays. Penalties hurt the Patriots, though, negating big gains and forcing the offense to settle for field goals.

Jerome Baker led all Dolphins defenders with 12 tackles while Miami did not finish the game with a sack.

"It always feels good. A lot of corrections we have to make obviously, but it's good to get a win," Flores said.

With Sunday's win, the Dolphins take sole possession of first place in the AFC East after losses by the Patriots, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets

The Dolphins will return to Hard Rock Stadium next Sunday for the home opener against the Bills. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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