After a devastating Week 1 loss decided by a Damien Harris fumble and the Miami Dolphins’ red zone defense — two high-variance, hard-to-repeat outcomes — Patriots fans still seems largely joyful. You know why? They have a kid quarterback who eats pressure for breakfast, just one start into his NFL career.
The Dolphins? Starting Year 2, we’re not exactly sure what they have. And the Pats’ defense seems to have their guy pegged.
If not for Harris’ critical gaffe, the Patriots would’ve played this game perfectly.
Sure, they turned a few seven-point opportunities into only three, but they kept the pocket clean for Jones, who typically made the right decision, and stayed just behind Miami, pressuring Tua Tagovailoa until he finally short-circuited and placed a 50-50 ball up for grabs at a critical moment.
Both QBs’ work under pressure told the story of this game — that is, if Harris had just held onto the ball and miled a bit more clock.
Patriots DBs know exactly how to shut down Tua Tagovailoa. Savage.
And remember, this Game 1 for Jones. One of many.
A lot of the scorching takes that predated this game had to do with how Tagovailoa would surely have no idea what to do with crowd noise, even after playing National Championship-level football in front of overflowing houses at Alabama.
But, you know what? The idea that he couldn’t handle the onslaught of the Patriots’ pass rushers, mixed with the intensity of the New England crowd, seems valid after the opener in hostile territory.
Jones, on the other hand? He scored touchdowns with the same excitement level with which he separates bottles and cans into recycling.
In case it wasn’t obvious by the way the game played out, Patriots cornerback JC Jackson continued to cement the idea that New England has their rival QB’s number with a postgame quote straight from the heart.
In fact, Jackson was so anti-coy that we wonder if Belichick’s going to make him run alap on Monday.
Not a public lap; just a secret lap, the kind only he would know even happened.
When asked about the game-changing interception midway through the fourth quarter deep in Dolphins territory, Jackson essentially laid bare that the Patriots knew Tagovailoa would lose control and get desperate sooner rather than later.
That is, how you say, not how you succeed against Bill Belichick’s disciplined defense. Never get baited into freelancing when the Pats bring the heat.
Clearly, Tagovailoa has a lot to learn, and the Patriots aren’t even keeping their plans secret anymore.
We only wish this masterclass hadn’t ended four minutes early.