Rookie Mac Jones’ impressive NFL debut was spoiled. The Patriots somehow lost the turnover battle to the Dolphins, and the dagger came with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter.
Jones was leading another productive, time consuming drive deep into Dolphins territory following a Patriots interception at midfield, but running back Damien Harris coughed the ball up in the red zone when he was fighting for extra yards.
The Patriots were fully in control … until they weren’t. Then the Dolphins managed a couple of first downs, and that was it. The game ended in uneventful fashion after so much buildup.
Damien Harris’ costly late-game fumble sealed the New England Patriots’ fate.
Heartbreaker. It happened on first down, too. The Patriots had so much clock to eat and were doing a good job of it, averaging over four yards per carry on the ground.
Jones finished 29-of-39 for 281 yards and a touchdown. He had good command of the offense. He made big throws when the Patriots needed a first down or some breathing room. He didn’t make any back-breaking mistakes you’d expect from a rookie making his debut.
He was on the same page with his receivers and the offense didn’t see one three-and-out on the day. Overall, a success.
But it was the young running back corps that tipped the scales in this one. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled at midfield on the second drive of the game, and though the Dolphins didn’t get any points out of it, it completely turned the field.
It won’t be easy to put these guys in the doghouse, either, because Bill Belichick traded Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams a few weeks ago. These backs will have to learn from their mistakes and make up for it in Week 2 against the New York Jets.
We can’t dismiss the penalties, either. The Pats were flagged eight times for 84 yards. Simply cannot happen. Inexcusable errors that gifted Miami a victory.
As for Jones, he was incredibly vocal and supportive after those game-changing gaffes, which speaks to his leadership and resiliency. And given that the QB position was the biggest concern for New England heading into Week 1, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives despite the tough loss.