Winners and losers from Patriots’ Week 1 loss in Miami

·5 min read

The New England Patriots had a rough opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, losing by a 20-7 score. Plenty went wrong for the Patriots, as their struggles in Miami continued.

The Dolphins defense frustrated the Patriots offense all afternoon, while the Dolphins offense frustrated the Patriots defense.

They could not keep up with the speed of the Dolphins defense and wide receivers in a game where they just looked disjointed and discombobulated. Now, they will look to put forth a better performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers this coming Sunday, as they try to pick up the pieces from a rough afternoon in Miami.

With that being said, we take a look at several winners and losers from Sunday’s game.

Winner: RB Damien Harris

Running back Damien Harris was a winner in a tough outing for the Patriots Sunday. Harris did his best to provide production on a day when the Patriots struggled.

He carried the ball nine times for 48 yards against a Miami defense that was stingy. He also caught two passes for 10 yards. He used his strength and physicality to rumble through holes when given the opportunity. Most notably impressive was his downhill running. His legs looked fresh, and he was certainly a bright spot for a New England offense that is going to have to rely on the running game.

Simply put, he produced in what was a tough day for the offense overall. The Patriots need both Harris and Rhamondre Stephenson to be able to play at a high level, and both of them, especially Harris, did so on Sunday.

Winner: Jakobi Meyers

Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers was able to get things going as the passing offense struggled. He was a key target for the Patriots last season. He was able to flash glimpses of that same type of reliability on Sunday, when hauling in four catches for 55 yards on six targets.

The wideout led the team in receiving and showed his ability to spread the field. He averaged 13.8 yards per reception, including a 27-yard catch that was his longest of the afternoon.

He was also able to make a tough high-point catch that was arguably the best Patriots offensive play of the afternoon. On this particular sequence, quarterback Mac Jones put the ball only where Meyers could get it. That was just one of the many highlights in what was a solid afternoon for the wide receiver.

He had a good day, even as the rest of his offensive teammates struggled. New England may need to lean on him even more as they look for consistency within the offense. He may not be a Pro Bowler, but he is a reliable target.

Loser: The (mostly pass) defense

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

It may seem a bit silly to put an entire unit as a loser, but in this case, the Patriots defense deserved it. They had absolutely no answers for the Dolphins offense, which was able to move at will.

The defense gave up 307 total yards to Miami and did so in staggering fashion. The Patriots allowed 5.2 yards per play. The Dolphins were able to try out their new wide receiver weapons as Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle were able to find openings against the New England defense.

Hill recorded eight catches for 94 yards, averaging 11.8 yards per reception. Waddle caught four passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, averaging 17.3 yards per play.

New England made life relatively easy for Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who went 23-of-33 passing on the afternoon for 270 yards and a touchdown. He had time in the pocket to make his reads, and that allowed for those receivers to get open.

The secondary had no answers for Miami’s passing game. They did a decent job of stopping the run, but it was not enough for New England to secure a victory. The passing defense simply needs to be better.

Loser: Mac Jones

(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones had a rough afternoon on Sunday. It seemed like he could never fully get into rhythm, as the Patriots are still trying to adjust to their new offensive scheme.

He went 21-of-30 on the afternoon, throwing for 213 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. A 41-yard pass was his longest of the afternoon. He didn’t have a terrible game by any means, but he didn’t do enough to move the needle for the Patriots offensively. He had moments in the game where he was able to move the offense relatively efficiently, but he wasn’t as sharp as he could have been.

I get it’s only one week, and I’m not ready to hit the panic button yet. Now, the waiting game begins as to the severity of his back injury. As for Sunday, it was an average performance and a game where he needed to be perfect in order to win.

Winner: Kyle Dugger

Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots safety Kyle Dugger was one of the few bright spots on defense for New England on Sunday. He was flying around the football and gave the Patriots a spark defensively.

He would finish the game with six total tackles and two tackles for a loss. He almost played like a linebacker at the safety position and was able to come down and stop the run on multiple occasions. The speed he showed on Saturday was something that the Patriots defense desperately needed. His instincts were extremely sharp, and he showed how valuable he is to a crowded safety position.

The Patriots have veterans at the safety position in Adrian Phillips and Devin McCourty. However, Dugger represents a future piece for the defense. He played like it on Sunday and allowed New England to have something positive to build on defensively.

Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire