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Dolphins Defense Helps Win Nail Biter Opening Game 17-16 Over Patriots

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Not surprisingly the Dolphins opened the 2021 season with a nail biter in New England.

The game was a battle right from the get go, with the Dolphins leading or tied for more than 57 minutes resulting in a well earned 17-16 win.

The Patriots controlled the ball, dominating time of possession, used many different ball catchers but the Dolphins defense didn't break. They were excellent in the red zone, held New England to field goals and late in the game with the lead in jeopardy, Eric Rowe and Xavian Howard combined to force a fumble and recover the ball.

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 12: Xavien Howard #25 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates his fumble recovery with Nik Needham #40 during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

From there the Dolphins showed they can play some power football and ran out the clock.

Give the offensive line credit late in the game for getting it done on crunch time.  Third downs were a big key to the game.

Time and time again the Dolphins brought the pass rush but couldn't get to Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who found the open man to keep drives alive. And when needed, with less than 5 minutes left, the Patriots converted a 3rd and 1 on a running play. But shortly later the define came up with that game clinching turnover.

The Dolphins won the turnover and penalty battle and were better innthe red zone.

Good discipline wins games.

Bottom line, no one asks how you won when they're figured out playoff scenarios in January. 1-0, a road win, in the division.  Job well done for Coach Brian Flores' team.

Now for some quick hits from the opening game.

Tua Tagovailoa started the game and 2nd half with good looking TD drives.

Dolphins got shorted on a real tough call, had the Patriots stopped but Elandon Roberts after a great QB rush was called for roughing the quarterback. Led to Patriots TD a few plays later.

Dolphins executed the old wildcat late in the game to keep possession.

Malcolm Brown got the first down on 2nd and 1 and with 2:24 to go with Jacoby Brisett came in for a Tua and gained a 1st down.

Patriots QB Mac Jones was solid, sure he missed some throws, but stood in well vs one of the NFL's best blitzing teams.

Jaylen Waddle got more reps in training camp, developed timing with Tua, and it showed.

Devante Parker showed, as a veteran, he didn't need training camp.

Miles Gaskin ran well but the Dolphins just didn't have the ball enough to run it more. The offensive line needs to continue to improve.

Rookie lineman Liam Eichenberg played all game at left tackle after not playing there 99% of the time in training camp.

The NFL's top takeaway team last season did it again in week 1. That Dolphins defense has some nasty.

Former Patriots on the Dolphins had some big plays, Roberts, Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe to name a few.

Opportunity knocks. Buffalo is 0-1, coming to Hard Rock Stadium Sunday. The Dolphins have a chance for an early 2 games lead on the Bills in the AFC east.

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