Tua’s TD pass, turnover by Howard lift Dolphins over Pats

Sep 12, 2021, 4:42 AM | Updated: 7:12 pm

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — 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 straight win 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 one 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.

INJURIES

Dolphins: DT Raekwon Davis limped off early in the first quarter with a knee injury.

Patriots: OT Trent Brown left in the first quarter with a right calf injury.

SPECIAL APPEARANCES

Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett made two big appearances Sunday. He picked up a third-and-1 in the second quarter to keep a drive alive and set up a field goal. He then did it again on Miami’s final drive of the day to help the Dolphins run out the clock.

“He’s done it before in the past. We used it today and he helped us,” Flores said.

MOVING FOWARD

Harris led the Patriots with three 100-yard rushing games last season and separated himself as the team’s top option out of the backfield during the preseason by showing ability to break long runs and move the chains in short yardage.

After having the fourth career 100-yard effort marred by the late turnover, he said he was ready to turn the page.,

“It’s just a tough play,” he said. “It’s part of the game. I’m not going to let this mistake define me.”

UP NEXT

Dolphins: host Buffalo next Sunday.

Patriots: visit the New York Jets next Sunday.

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak celebrates with teammate Pavel Zacha (18) after scoring a g...
Associated Press

Bruins rolling, rest of NHL making final push for playoffs

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas Golden Knights lost eight of 10 games going into the All-Star break after leading the Pacific Division at the midway point of the NHL season. They’re still safely in a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they can’t keep it up. “We’re still in a good position […]
1 day ago
FILE - Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt holds the Super Bowl trophy during a rally in Kansas Cit...
Associated Press

Chiefs’ Hunt, Eagles’ Lurie behind Super Bowl-winning teams

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Clark Hunt proudly held aloft the AFC championship trophy bearing his father’s name, the one signifying that his Kansas City Chiefs were headed back to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, and reflected that not so long ago, success seemed elusive. It had been 50 years […]
1 day ago
Atlantic Division's Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (88) and Aleksander Barkov, of th...
Associated Press

Panthers hope All-Star weekend showcased team’s investment

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk is under contract to the Florida Panthers for much of the next decade. So is fellow All-Star Aleksander Barkov. And right there are two compelling reasons for players to join the Panthers in the coming years. The last few days might have helped the recruiting pitch, too. Many of […]
1 day ago
FILE - North Texas football coach Todd Dodge, left, speaks to the media in Denton, Texas, Tuesday, ...
Associated Press

Mahomes, Hurts latest Texas prep QBs on Super Bowl stage

DALLAS (AP) — Texas high school quarterbacks guru Todd Dodge got what he wanted when Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts of Philadelphia won their conference championship games. “I really like Joe Burrow,” Dodge said with a chuckle in reference to Cincinnati’s star quarterback, “but I’m not going to root for Joe Burrow over […]
1 day ago
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, drives to the rim as Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongw...
Associated Press

Nuggets beat Hawks 128-108, tie Boston for NBA’s best record

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a season-high 41 points, Nikola Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game, beating the Atlanta Hawks 128-108 on Saturday night. Jokic finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists and recorded the 94th regular-season triple-double of his career. […]
1 day ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors gu...
Associated Press

Curry injures left leg leading Warriors over Mavs 119-113

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry went down and the Golden Warriors once again had to fight like crazy to close out a game. Curry had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds before injuring his left leg defending a drive late in the third quarter, and the defending NBA champions defeated Dallas 119-113 on […]
1 day ago
Tua’s TD pass, turnover by Howard lift Dolphins over Pats