The New(ton)-era for the New England Patriots has arrived…and ground travel looks to feature prominently in this next chapter of football in Foxboro.
Football is back and the 2020 NFL season has begun.
Making his first start as the Patriots’ quarterback, Cam Newton rushed for two touchdowns as New England defeated the Miami Dolphins 21-11 on Sunday. Newton rushed 15 times for 75 yards and threw for 155 yards, leading a Patriots offensive attack that looked quite formidable on the ground. In the final tally, New England had amassed 217 of its 357 yards on the ground.
However, the Patriots’ defense once again proved its prowess; looking solid in the secondary and stout between the tackles. Defensive linemen Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler and Byron Cowart were effective in stifling the run, while linebackers Anfernee Jennings, Chase Winovich and Ja’Whaun Bentley provided stellar coverage. The secondary maintained its reputation as being the team’s strength, with cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson each collecting interceptions on Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
New England’s safeties displayed versatility in the middle, with cornerback/safety JoeJuan Williams seeing meaningful action on defending tight ends. Fellow safety and hybrid linebacker Adrian Phillips finished a team-high eight tackles, as well as an interception in the second quarter. Utilizing a skill set that had served him well during his time with the Los Angeles (née San Diego) Chargers, Phillips made big plays for the Patriots, on the edge, in between the tackles and deep in the secondary.
On the other hand, Miami struggled on both sides of the ball for most of the game. Their offense looked particularly out of sorts after losing top receiver DeVante Parker in the third quarter due to a hamstring injury. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 20 of 30 for 191 yards and three interceptions. Miami was held to 269 total yards.
On The Field Of Battle…
After a scoreless opening quarter for both teams, Newton put the Patriots on the board for the first time in 2020 with a four-yard touchdown run. The 11-play, 80-yard drive put the Pats on top 7-0. Dolphins’ kicker Jason Sanders would add a 46-yard field goal to give Miami 3 points at the half.
Newton started the second half by continuing to hurt Miami via the ground attack. He scored from 11 yards early in the third quarter to put New England up 14-3. Late in the period, Miami defender Jerome Baker gave the Fins’ new life by stripping N’Keal Harry inside the 5-yard line, causing a fumble through the end zone for a touchback. Miami then cut New England’s lead to 14-11 in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Jordan Howard and 2-point conversion run by Fitzpatrick with 10:31 left.
The Patriots responded quickly by moving inside Miami’s 40 on a 23-yard run by Julian Edelman, as well as a 15-yard late hit penalty on Baker. Newton found his way inside the 1 on a fourth-and-1 draw play. On the ensuing play, running back Sony Michel went over the top for a touchdown that made the score 21-11. Any hopes that Miami had to close the gap ended when Fitzpatrick was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback J.C. Jackson.
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In Their Own Words…
“Just too many turnovers at the end of the day,”. -Miami Head Coach, Brian Flores
“I felt up front we played well, I have to play better in my part.” -Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
“He’s earned everybody’s respect, That’s all you can ask for anyone and he’s done that.” -Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, on Cam Newton
“It was relatively picking up right where I remember the game to be,” said Newton, playing for the first time in more than a year. “I think it was just a feeling-through process as well with (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels), coach Bill (Belichick), as well as (quarterbacks coach) Jedd (Fisch) to understand what they have. … We made the adjustments and we executed.” -Patriots quarterback Cam Newton
“For me no matter who it is, I play with a competitive edge and I respect the other team to have a competitive edge as well.” -Patriots quarterback Cam Newton
Julian Edelman’s 6-yard reception early in the second quarter was his 600th career reception. He is now second in franchise history behind only Wes Welker (672).
Cam Newton’s 75 yards were the most by a Patriots quarterback since Steve Grogan had 81 in 1977.
The Patriots travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks on Sunday, September 20 on Sunday Night Football.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC