FOXBORO -- The Patriots put up another solid fight against a superior opponent on Sunday night, but once again fell short. This week, it was against the Miami Dolphins, who handed New England a 24-17 loss at Gillette Stadium.
The Pats have played two games and they've both been decided by just one score. Last Sunday they had a chance to win it on their final possession but came up short. This Sunday, they had a chance to tie it on their final possession, but came up short.
It's only two weeks into the season and everyone is already sick of hearing about "moral victories." Those don't count for anything in the standings, and that is all that matters in the end.
Sunday's loss drops the Patriots to 0-2 on the season for the first time since 2001, and both of this season's loses have come on their home field. Since 1990, only 31 of the 270 teams to start a season 0-2 have gone on to make the playoffs -- just 11.5 percent.
The Patriots once again found themselves in an early hole on Sunday night. They had costly turnovers and penalties throughout. For the second straight week, they did more to beat themselves than to win a football game.
Here's a look at the Ups and Downs from New England's second straight loss.
The offensive line
The offensive line has battled injuries since the start of camp, so there really isn't much cohesion with the group. Mike Onwenu and Cole Strange were back this week, but starting left tackle Trent Brown was inactive, as was rookie Sidy Sow. Newcomer Vederian Lowe handled the left tackle duties on Sunday.
The pass protection was severely lacking throughout the loss. Mac Jones was constantly under pressure and was sacked four times, while the Dolphins delivered eight QB hits. Throughout the game, you could usually find someone on the New England O-line just kinda standing there and not blocking someone they very much should have been blocking.
Welcome back, Cole Strange. You may wanna block this dude instead of just giving him a free path to your quarterback.
That turned a second-and-12 into a third-and-21 and the Pats had to punt away their opening possession.
Calvin Anderson was guilty too, giving Andrew Van Ginkel a pretty easy route to Jones on a third-and-10 in the second quarter:
Pass protection has to get better, and maybe it will as the offensive line gets healthier. But for now, it's an absolute mess.
For the second straight week, New England's second drive of the game ended with a fumble being recovered by the opposing defense. It once again put the team in a hole it ultimately couldn't get out of.
The Patriots were at the Miami 40 when Jones hit DeMario Douglas over the middle. "Pop" stopped on a dime to shake Xavien Howard into next week, but then Bradley Chubb came up from behind and knocked the ball out of Douglas' hands. A diving Rhamondre Stevenson couldn't recover, and the Dolphins took over at their own 27.
The Pats had a chance at some points to answer Miami's opening field goal, but coughed up the ball instead. They've now turned the ball over three times in their two first quarters to begin the season.
Miami turned that fumble into a touchdown, too, sending the Patriots into a 10-0 hole early in the second quarter. Douglas didn't play an offensive snap after that costly miscue.
Then with the Pats down by 14 points late in the third quarter, Mac threw a costly interception deep in Miami territory. Jones tossed one to DeVante Parker down the sideline at the Miami 2-yard line, but Xavien Howard picked it off to end the scoring threat.
Self-inflicted wounds in the other team's territory are absolute killers, and the Patriots have found that out the hard way the last two weeks.
The defense played well overall, keeping Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to a total of just nine receptions. The Patriots were daring the Dolphins to beat them on the ground.
Unfortunately for New England, that's just what Miami did. Raheem Mostert had 121 yards and two touchdowns on his 18 carries, including a 43-yard score in the fourth quarter. There was also very little fight on Mostert's 8-yard touchdown run on Miami's second possession.
The offensive line has a lot to do with this, but the Patriots couldn't run through a paper bag on Sunday night.
Stevenson had 15 carries and ran for just 50 yards. Ezekiel Elliott had just 13 yards on his five carries. With Mac's 25 yards on his five rush attempts, the Patriots ran for 88 yards on 25 carries -- an average of 3.5 yards per attempt. Woof.
After the defense forced a Miami three-and-out to start the second half, the offense needed just one yard on two plays to keep a drive alive. They couldn't even muster that, losing three yards on a third-and-1 pitch back to Stevenson. Anderson didn't throw a block on Jevon Holland at the line, leading to Stevenson being dropped in the backfield.
All of this came against a Miami defense that let the Chargers run for 233 yards in Week 1. We repeat: Woof.
The Patriots needed a spark in the second half and they got it from special teams.
Schooler got a running start on the edge and launched himself right into Sanders' field-goal attempt, giving the offense a golden opportunity to put points on the board.
They didn't, because Mac threw an interception deep in Miami territory, but Schooler made one heck of a play to give his team a chance.
Gonzo's first career interception
There was a lot on Christian Gonzalez's shoulders with Jonathan Jones out and Marcus Jones leaving in the first half. The rookie first-round pick saw a lot of Tyreek Hill and held his own for the most part. There are always ups and downs when going head-to-head with an other-worldly talent like Hill.
Gonzalez made a huge play early in the fourth quarter, out-jumping Hill on a deep ball for his first career pick.
The rookie has a lot on his plate and injuries in the secondary keep adding to his responsibilities. But the 21-year-old Gonzalez continues to impress early in his NFL career.
Chad Ryland makes a kick!
After not attempting a field goal in the preseason or Week 1, rookie kicker Chad Ryland finally got his shot just ahead of halftime. He snuck it just inside the left upright from 49 yards out for his first career field goal, making it a 10-3 game at the time.
for more features.