The Miami Dolphins opened up their 2020 season against division-rival New England who had a new face at the quarterback position for the first time in 20 years. Cam Newton rushed his way for a Patriots victory, helping New England defeat Miami 21-11.
New England Rushing: Too Much to Handle
Newton rushed as many times as he completed passes, 15, with 75 yards and two rushing scores. He led the backfield, rushing five more times than running back Sony Michel, eight more times than RB Rex Burkhead and 10 more times than RB James White. Newton’s 75 yards out-rushed both Michel’s and Burkhead’s days totals combined (69) and White added 22 more yards on the ground while contributing 30 through the air.
Miami picked up right where it left off in 2019 with a poor rush defense to begin 2020. The Patriots rushed for 217 yards combined, 130 more than the Dolphins’ 87.
“It was definitely something different. It was definitely tough. But ultimately, we’ve got to make adjustments (on Newton),” outside linebacker Jerome Baker said. “We’ve got to get it handled. We definitely want to go back to the drawing board and focus on that (rush defense). But you’ve got to look at what we made mistakes at but also we’ve got to get better.”
Miami’s Effort to Run the Ball
Despite Miami being heavily outrushed, its attempt at running the football was more promising than it was in 2019.
Gaskin ran the ball nine times for a team-high 40 yards, while Howard, although having just one less carry, only had seven rushing yards. Additionally, Breida didn’t see his first action pf the game until the 6:40 mark left in the first half. He finished the game with just five carries for 22 yards. Howard’s only saving grace in the game was scoring the Dolphins’ only rushing touchdown, but clearly, Miami has a ways to go in terms of rush offense and defense.
Starting QB Fitzpatrick Also Struggles
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick also turned in an underwhelming day. Though not all of his interceptions were his fault, he tossed three in the game and only had 182 passing yards going 20-for-30. Strong safety Adrian Phillips, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and CB J.C. Jackson got the picks for the Patriots. Jackson also recovered Fitzpatrick’s fumble in the game.
“The first one (interception) was one-on-one with Preston (Williams) and ‘Steph’ (Stephon Gilmore) and there was some contact there. But that is what it is. The second one, definitely, they did a good job on that one. I threw it right to their free player in the middle of the field,” Fitzpatrick said. “And then that last one, yeah, just trying to make something happen in the end zone to try to conserve some time at the end of the game there. And sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t when you throw those type of throws.”
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Fitzpatrick’s zero passing touchdowns also plagued Miami, who actually kept the game close until finding itself down 14-3 late in the third quarter. The Dolphins would pull within three points, 14-11, after Howard’s rushing TD early in the fourth quarter followed by a two-point conversion rush from Fitzpatrick. However, a plethora of miscues saw more interceptions and chances to win the game slip away multiple times in the final quarter.
“You can’t do that and win games in the National Football League,” Fitzpatrick said. “When you’re going against the Patriots, you know you have to take advantage of the possessions that you get and having a couple of turnovers there doesn’t help, but I thought up front we played well. I’ve got to play better in my part and then we’ll move on to next week.”
Jerome Baker: Leadership Shows
On defense, Baker made a leadership statement with a strong statistical game. He finished with 16 total tackles (13 solo), one sack, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble.
However, the combination of rushing and a few flip plays through the air were too much to contain.
Edelman, Harry Lead Patriots Through Air
Parker Leads Team But Exits With Injury
For Miami, WR DeVante Parker had a team-high four catches for 47 yards before leaving the game midway through the third quarter with a hamstring injury.
“We’ll take a look at him over the course of the week. I don’t have a status update right now, but obviously he didn’t return, so we’ll see what it looks like tomorrow and in the coming days,” Miami head coach Brian Flores said.
Gaskin added four catches for 26 yards and WR Preston Williams finished second on the team with 41 yards on two catches (seven targets). No. 3 WR Isaiah Ford made his first career start and finished with two catches (four targets) for 13 yards.
“(We) had some spurts there where we were moving the ball, but obviously with turnovers, those are huge. We talk about that a lot as a team. It’s tough to win when you turn the ball over,” Flores said. “But I do think he had some, put some drives together. We only finished the one. But just too many turnovers at the end of the day.”
The Dolphins will look to improve their turnover differential next week in their home-opener against another division-rival, the Buffalo Bills at 1 p.m. eastern.
Kayla Morton contributed to this article.