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Dolphins' Howard ends Patriots' day

by The Associated. Press | September 13, 2021 at 2:09 a.m.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Xavien Howard was one of the NFL's best players at causing turnovers in 2020. He was back at it Sunday to help the Dolphins preserve a victory to open this season.

"Every game I feel like I have to make something happen for the team and give the ball to the offense. My mindset was get the ball out," said Howard, who led the league in interceptions in 2020. "We needed it and it was crucial. So I made it happen."

Tua Tagovailoa threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle in the third quarter and Howard recovered the Damien Harris fumble with New England driving in the fourth to help the Miami Dolphins hold on for a 17-16 win over the Patriots on Sunday.

It was Miami's second consecutive victory over the Patriots. Tagovailoa also led the Dolphins to a victory in the second meeting between the teams last season.

Tagovailoa finished 16 of 27 for 202 yards, a touchdown and 1 interception, and also had a 3-yard TD run to lead a revamped offense that kept the Patriots' rebuilt defense guessing, mixing in no-huddle and empty backfield formations. DeVante Parker caught four passes for 81 yards.

While the offense had its moments, including going 2 for 2 in the red zone, Tagovailoa said it must be better than 4 of 11 (36%) on third downs.

"I think the defense gave us a lot of opportunities and we just gotta make use of those," Tagovailoa said.

Miami's win spoiled the debut of New England's Mac Jones, the first rookie quarterback to start for the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. Jones was 29 of 39 for 281 yards and a touchdown. Harris rushed 23 times for 100 yards, but had the costly fumble to end New England's comeback hopes. New England had four fumbles on the day, losing two.

"Definitely wasn't good enough, starting with me," Jones said. "We lost, so it's not good enough."

Miami took a 17-10 lead in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown from Tagovailoa to Waddle.

The Patriots cut it to 17-13 in the fourth when they ate up more than five minutes of the clock to drive inside the Dolphins 15. But it stalled there and Nick Folk's third field goal made it 17-16 with 10:36 left.

On their ensuing drive, the Dolphins were facing third and 7 on their 43 when Tagovailoa was flushed out of the pocket and heaved a pass toward the sideline. The ball was tipped and intercepted by Jonathan Jones, giving the ball back to the Patriots at midfield with just over eight minutes remaining.

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 Howard. Howard recovered it and the Dolphins took over on their 9. They were able to run out the clock.

"He's a great player. We needed a great play there," Miami Coach Brian Flores said.

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 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.

New England was penalized eight times for 84 yards.

Miami7370--17

New England01033--16

First Quarter

MiA--Tagovailoa 3 run (Sanders kick), 5:35.

Second Quarter

NE--FG Folk 27, 10:20.

NE--Agholor 7 pass from M.Jones (Folk kick), 2:36.

MiA--FG Sanders 48, :04.

Third Quarter

MiA--Waddle 3 pass from Tagovailoa (Sanders kick), 11:02.

NE--FG Folk 42, 2:54.

Fourth Quarter

NE--FG Folk 33, 10:39.

MiaNE

First downs1624

Total Net Yards259393

Rushes-yards23-7430-125

Passing185268

Punt Returns1-183-20

Kickoff Returns0-02-40

Interceptions Ret.0-01-0

Comp-Att-Int16-27-129-39-0

Sacked-Yards Lost2-171-13

Punts4-45.02-49.5

Fumbles-Lost0-04-2

Penalties-Yards5-298-84

Time of Possession23:1736:43

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING--Miami, Gaskin 9-49, Brown 5-16, Brissett 2-4, Ahmed 3-4, Tagovailoa 4-1. New England, Harris 23-100, White 4-12, Smith 1-6, Bolden 1-5, Stevenson 1-2.

PASSING--Miami, Tagovailoa 16-27-1-202. New England, M.Jones 29-39-0-281.

RECEIVING--Miami, Gaskin 5-27, Parker 4-81, Waddle 4-61, Ahmed 2-24, Smythe 1-9. New England, White 6-49, Meyers 6-44, Agholor 5-72, Smith 5-42, Henry 3-31, Harris 2-17, Bourne 1-17, Stevenson 1-9.

New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) is upended by Miami Dolphins cornerback Justin Coleman during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) is upended by Miami Dolphins cornerback Justin Coleman during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, right, is congratulated by teammates after his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, right, is congratulated by teammates after his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to pass after faking a hand off during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to pass after faking a hand off during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy, left, takes down Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy, left, takes down Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, right, congratulates offensive guard Solomon Kindley (66) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, right, congratulates offensive guard Solomon Kindley (66) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Miami Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe (81) hangs onto the ball while taken down by New England Patriots defensive back J.C. Jackson during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Miami Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe (81) hangs onto the ball while taken down by New England Patriots defensive back J.C. Jackson during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) heads for the end zone after a touchdown pass from New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) heads for the end zone after a touchdown pass from New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Print Headline: Dolphins' Howard ends Patriots' day

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