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Tua Tagovailoa, Jaylen Waddle and Xavien Howard headline Miami’s top 5 plays against the New England Patriots

Escaping New England with a win isn’t easy to do.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins started the 2021 season at the same place the 2020 season began — in New England facing the Patriots.

The outcome, however, is a different story. The Dolphins pulled off a 17-16 win over the Patriots after falling 21-11 in New England just a season ago.

A well-rounded performance was a clear indication of growth as coach Brian Flores starts his third year at the helm for the Dolphins. From Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle to Xavien Howard — here are Miami’s top plays from Sunday’s win.

5. The season starts with Tagovailoa connecting with Waddle

A sign of things to come?

The Dolphins start the season on offense with a play-action pass to Jaylen Waddle in which the receiver turns a 10-yard gain into a 35-yard scramble by wiggling through defenders.

Waddle finished the day with four receptions and 61 yards.

4. Tagovailoa walks in for six

The Dolphins have struggled in short-yardage situations for some time now, but that may change in 2021. Tagovailoa scored the team’s first touchdown and I don’t think the three-yard scramble could’ve been any easier.

Tagovailoa making the correct reads could make Miami’s short-yardage issues a quick fix if this continues in the coming weeks.

3. Is this what they mean by turnover “luck”?

The more things change, Miami’s defense continues to force a turnover. The defense increased its streak to 23-straight games with a turnover after Eric Rowe ripped a ball out of Rhamondre Stevenson’s hands late in the first quarter.

2. Waddle gives Miami the lead for good

The Dolphins received the ball following halftime and marched down the field — going 75 yards over nine plays to take the lead for good.

The drive ended with Waddle catching a pass on the left side of the field before lunging for the end zone. Miami’s offense certainly has to clean some things up but it is tough to ignore the positives.

1. Xavien Howard calls ball game

The New England Patriots refused to throw the ball towards Xavien Howard for most of Sunday’s matchup but that didn’t stop him from leaving his mark. Howard forced — and recovered a fumble with three minutes remaining in the game.

The Patriots got the ball inside of Miami’s 10 and it seemed like the offense would need to make some magic. Instead, Howard showcased why he deserved his bump in pay with a game-defining play.