Here are 3 reasons why Miami was able to overcome New England:
Reason 1: Won The Turnover Battle
In the NFL, it’s extremely difficult to win football games without winning the turnover battle. So while the Dolphins offense sputtered on more than a few occasions on Sunday, they did one thing exceptionally well; they didn’t turn the ball over.
Miami was 0/2 from the Red Zone, had less offensive drives than New England, and only managed 5.2 yards per play. It’s safe to say the Dolphins’ offense left plenty of opportunities on the field, and that Sunday wasn’t the dominating performance fans were expecting.
But when things weren’t going well, the Dolphins kept it safe, trotted on the field-goal unit, and kept the game in their control. Meanwhile, the Patriots lost 2 fumbles, and Mac Jones threw a momentum-killing interception on the Patriots’ very first drive of the game. Almost to a tee, every time the game was within New England’s grasp, they handed it to Miami. Luckily for Miami, they didn’t make the mistake of handing it right back.
The final scoreboard on Sunday said “Miami 20, New England 7”, but I’d put it this way: “Miami +3, New England -3.
Reason 2: Gutsy Coaching
As Tyreek Hill said, “Mike McDaniel is gonna need a wheel barrow, he’s got a lot of cojones”.
4th-and-7 on the 42-yard-line, 24 seconds left in the 1st-half, and already up by 10 points. 95% of NFL coaches are kneeling, punting, or waving over their kicker to attempt a near 60-yard field goal.
Mike McDaniel, however, is part of that 5%.
As Jaylen Waddle scampered 42 yards to the end zone, one could almost sense the mental toll it took on the Patriots’ sideline. New England was suddenly staring at a 17-point deficit, knowing they had to kick the ball right back to Miami to open the 2nd-half. A 2-score game quickly became 3, with the potential to be 4. McDaniel’s decision was a sucker punch for New England, and arguably sealed the win for Miami right then and there.
Of course, it’s extremely early days, but McDaniel gives off the impression that he coaches to win games, not to avoid losing them. For better or for worse, he sticks to his guns, and that’s the type of coach that Miami needs.
Reason 3: Defense Stepped Up
With the departure of Brian Flores, a lot of questions surrounded this Miami defense entering the season. Would they be able to keep up the same level of domination with defensive-coordinator Josh Boyer? Would the tenacity and hunger we saw under Flores suddenly disappear?
Well, it’s safe to say these questions (and plenty more) were answered on Sunday.
Disguised blitz packages, sending pressure on early downs, and exceptional secondary play all contributed to Miami’s dominating performance on defense. Only 7 points allowed, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, and the game’s opening touchdown. By all measures, a solid defensive showing from the Dolphins.
Oh, and special shoutout to undrafted free-agent Kader Kohou, who came up big for Miami in the absence of Byron Jones. The rookie out of Texas A&M had 2 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and ended the day with a Pro Football Focus rating of 91.2, the highest of any Miami Dolphins player in Week 1.
The Dolphins meet up with a familiar out-of-division foe next week as they travel to Marylad to take on Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, who are coming off a 24-9 victory over the New York Jets in Week 1.
Miami has struggled to win in Baltimore, having lost their last 4 games at M&T Bank Stadium. In fact, you’d have to go back to 1997 for the last time the Dolphins beat the Ravens on the road.
Week 1 was a success for Miami, but the real challenge will come against a strong Ravens team in Week 2, who far too often have been the thorn in the Dolphins’ side.