The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots have kicked off their 2023 NFL Week 2 Sunday Night Football showdown. The first of two meetings between the AFC East rivals this year, the Dolphins are looking to back up last week’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers and move to 2-0 on the year. The Patriots are looking to avoid their first 0-2 start to the season since 2001.
Throughout the game, we will keep up with everything that is happening and provide you with our immediate reactions. Everything will be below, broken down by quarter, with halftime and final score reactions as well. Reactions will be marked in italics.
Dolphins 24 - 17 Patriots
Immediate Post-Game Reactions
The Dolphins are 2-0. That is the main takeaway from this game. They found a way to get it done and pulled off a hard-fought victory on the road in the division on prime time. It was not pretty down the stretch, but they did enough, and they can now head home to Miami for their home opener next week.
Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle’s injury could be a major issue for the team. He was evaluated for a concussion in the medical tent and then returned to the locker room for further tests. He was hit helmet-to-helmet, so he likely has to pass the concussion protocols, even if he does not have an actual concussion.
Running back Raheem Mostert ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries on the day, a day in which Miami actually turned to the running attack. The Patriots looked to force Miami into running the ball, and the Dolphins responded.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill was limited to 40 yards on five catches, exactly what the Patriots would have wanted to see on his stat line. Everyone else stepped up, however, and the Dolphins were able to get into the endzone and keep the pressure on the Patriots offense throughout the game.
The defense, and especially linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, stepped up down the stretch and made Miami come away with the win.
And, the Dolphins are 2-0. More will be coming throughout the next few days here on The Phinsider, but for now, enjoy the win and being 2-0 on the season.
First Quarter Reactions
The Patriots started with the ball after the Dolphins won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. New England started with a pass from quarterback Mac Jones to tight end Mike Gesicki for five yards, followed by a four-yard bubble screen to wide receiver DeVante Parker. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson got involved after the cameos by the former Dolphins players, picking up 14 yards on two carries. Wide receiver Demario Douglas gained nine yards on a reception before the Dolphins defense decided that was enough. Stevenson tried a run up the middle, with defensive lineman Zach Sieler blowing up the line of scrimmage and linebacker Bradley Chubb cleaning up the tackle for a two-yard loss. Then linebacker David Long, Jr., fired through the line and sacked Jones for a nine-yard loss, with Chubb assisting on the tackle. A screen pass to Stevenson gained nothing and New England punted.
The Patriots come out and throw two passes on the first two plays, going to former Dolphins players on each, immediately looking to try to get them in the game against the former club. It took a minute for the defense to warm up, but they started attacking, and it worked. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is not known for his blitzes, but he used it to succeed last week, and it appears it is also ready tonight. Keep attacking.
The Patriots came out on defense looking to keep wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle bottled up, so the Dolphins turned to other options to get the offense moving. Starting with a run from running back Raheem Mostert for three yards and followed by a four-yard scramble by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa the Dolphins were finding space underneath and in the running game. A short pass to wide receiver Braxton Berrios gave Miami a first down, then Tagovailoa found Waddle on a slant for 11 yards. Two Mostert runs then picked up 13 yards, with Tagovailoa throwing to the running back next for six more yards. Tagovailoa threw a slant to Hill to pick up 15 yards before a wheel route from running back Salvon Ahmed turned into a 19-yard gain. On 1st-and-Goal from the four-yard line, Mostert picked up a yard before wide receiver Erik Ezukanma, lined up in the backfield, lost a yard on a run. On 3rd-and-Goal, Tagovailoa was forced to throw the ball away as he stumbled. Miami settled for a field goal from kicker Jason Sanders. Dolphins 3-0.
Bad luck at the end of the drive, but Miami found their rhythm pretty quickly. The Patriots are clearly selling out to step Hill and Waddle deep, so the Dolphins offense is taking the underneath and bringing the rushing attack. It should continue to be effective until the Patriots change up something.
Ezekiel Elliott, the former Dallas Cowboys running back, took the first carry for the Patriots on their second possession, picking up two yards. Jones then went to the air, finding Kendrick Bourne for five yards, Parker for 11 yards, and Hunter Henry for nine yards. Elliott picked up nine yards on two runs, followed by an incomplete pass from Jones. On 3rd-and-8, Jones found Douglas for 10 yards, but Chubb tracked him down from behind and punched the ball loose, with safety DeShon Elliott recovering the loose ball as the quarter ended.
What a great play from Chubb. He turned and chased down Douglas from behind. Really well done. Now Miami needs to make the Patriots pay.
Second Quarter Reactions
Miami started and ended the drive with Mostert after the turnover. The running back picked up three yards to start the drive. After an incomplete pass and an eight-yard gain from Tagovailoa to Hill, Mostert gained three yards on a 1st-down run. Running back Salvon Ahmed then entered the game and picked up 10 yards of his own. Tagovailoa threw a slant to Waddle, who turned upfield and picked up 15 yards on the play before an illegal block penalty on Isaiah Wynn backed the Dolphins up 10 yards. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa returned to Waddle, who again turned upfield and turned a short pass into a big gain, this time for 28 yards. A neutral zone infraction by the Patriots set up a 1st-and-5 from the New England 10-yard line, with Ahmed picking up two yards on a run. Mostert then cut back on a counter run, finding a hole and scoring from eight yards out. Dolphins 10-0.
There we go. The offense is doing just about whatever they want right now. The Patriots want to limit the deep ball, so Miami will take short passes and turn them into big gains while allowing the running backs to get involved in the game plan as well. This is a great start, but the Patriots were down 16-0 last week and were able to make a good comeback. The Dolphins cannot ease off the gas.
The Dolphins defense continued to get after the Patriots on the next New England possession. A run from Elliott picked up three yards before a pass from Jones to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster gained six yards. Stevenson picked up a yard up the middle, with defensive lineman Christian Wilkins and linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel combining for the stop. After an incomplete pass, Jones threw a screen to Smith-Schuster, with Van Ginkel reading the play perfectly and making a tackle for no gain. Van Ginkel was not done, rushing on the 3rd-and-10 play and nearly getting to Jones for a sack, but settling for disrupting the pass and forcing an incomplete. The Patriots punted.
The defense is taking it to the Patriots' offense right now. What a great series for AVG.
Miami could not do anything with the possession. A Mostert run for three yards was followed by two incomplete passes and a Dolphins punt.
One short possession is not the end of the world. Miami was clearly trying to get the defensive pass interference on the third down deep ball toward Waddle, but the refs left their flags in their pockets.
Gesicki picked up nine yards on the drive's first play, with Jones throwing directly over the top of a blitzing Long. A Stevenson run for two yards gave the Patriots a first down. Jones then threw to Henry for eight yards, followed by a Stevenson run for a yards. On 3rd-and-1, Jones was pushed forward for two yards and a first down. Jones then threw to Parker, who broke a tackle attempt by cornerback Eli Apple and picked up 12 yards. The Patriots continued their no-huddle attack on the Miami defense, with Van Ginkel flushing Jones out for a five-yard scramble that was negated by a holding penalty. On 1st-and-20, Parker caught a bubble screen and picked up seven yards. A neutral zone infraction on Chubb gave the Patriots a free five yards as the clock reached the two-minute warning. On 2nd-and-8 after the break, Elliott was stuffed by defensive tackle Raekwon Davis for a one-yard loss. DeShon Elliott broke up the pass targeting Parker, with Apple nearly coming up with the pick on the deflection. The Patriots settled for a field goal. Dolphins 10-3.
The Patriots using the no-huddle, fast-paced offense to keep Miami’s defense on the field was a great counter to the attack the Dolphins had been doing. You could see the linebackers and linemen slowing down a step as they tried to catch their breaths. How Miami counters the move will be interesting in the second half. Miami now has about 1:49 to try to double up with a score before the half, then again in the second half.
The Dolphins went straight to the air to try to move the ball down the field, beginning with a pass from Tagovailoa to Ahmed for five yards. A second pass to Ahmed picked up four yards, followed by a run from Mostert for four yards. Tagovailoa then threw to wide receiver River Cracraft for 22 yards. A pass to tight end Durham Smythe picked dup six yards, then a pass to Cracraft moved the ball another 12 yards down to the Patriots’ 20-yard line with 31 seconds remaining. Tagovailoa found Berrios for 18 yards, but the receiver could not get out of bounds. With the clock restarted following a review, Tagovailoa found Hill for the two-yard score. Dolphins 17-3.
What a perfectly done drive. Just absolutely gorgeous. Worked the sidelines, used the timeout, and took it to New England. Now score to open the second half and this game might be out of reach already - though they have to keep pressing.
The Patriots knelt to kill the clock after the kickoff.
That was a good first half for the Dolphins, but they cannot let up now. They have the halftime lead, but the Patriots are not going away. They have to play smart football and continue to take whatever New England is willing to give them.
The offense may not be the full explosive offense we saw go toe-to-toe with the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend, but this Miami offense is really hard to stop. The Patriots are doing a good job of keeping everything in front of them, but the Dolphins are also willing to play that type of game. If you want to try to limit everything to quick throws and running plays, the Dolphins are built to do that.
Tagovailoa is 15-for-20 for 181 yards with a touchdown, giving him a 119.0 passer rating, in the first half. Hill has three receptions for 25 yards and a score, Waddle has three catches for 54 yards, Cracraft has two for 34 yards, Berrios has two for 28 yards, Ahmed has three fro 28 yards, Mostert has one for six yards, and Smythe has one for six yards. Tagovailoa is spreading the ball around well.
Mostert has run nine times for 40 yards and a touchdown while Ahmed has three carries for 13 yards.
The defense is attacking tonight. Baker and Davis both have five tackles, with Long, Chubb, and Van Ginkel each recording four. Long has a sack while Davis, Long, and Chubb have tackles for loss. Chubb has the forced fumble with DeShon Elliott recovering it. Long has two quarterback hits and Van Ginkel has one. Van Ginkel, DeShon Elliott, and Apple each have a pass breakup.
Miami is dominating this game. They have 237 yards of offense, compared to the 116 for the Patriots. The Dolphins are averaging 7.0 yards per play, while the Patriots are averaging just 3.6 yards per game. The Patriots are averaging just 2.3 yards per running play, a huge improvement for the Miami defense from last week when they were gashed for 5.8 yards per rush by the Chargers.
On to the second half.
Third Quarter Reactions
Miami came out looking to pull away, but the offense failed to move the ball. A three-yard run from Mostert was offset by a loss of two yards on an end-around from Waddle and a five-yard loss on a sack of Tagovailoa. The Dolphins punted on the three-and-out drive.
That was not the start to the half the Dolphins needed.
Starting at their own 36-yard line after the punt, the Patriots picked up nine from Stevenson, then three from Jones. A pass from Jones into the flat to Parker turned into a nine-yard gain when Apple missed the tackle at the point of the catch but Stevenson was stopped for no gain on 2nd-and-1, then safety Jevon Holland fired through the line for a three-yard tackle for a loss on Stevenson and the Patriots were forced to punt.
That was the answer the defense needed to provide after the offense went three-and-out. The boos coming down from Gillette Stadium are amazing.
Miami started the drive with a pass from Tagovailoa to Smythe for nine yards, then to Hill for another nine yards. Mostert picked up nothing on a run, with Ezukanma gaining seven yards to set up a 3rd-and-2. Tagovailoa then threw to Hill for six yards. Another Ezukanma run lost a yard before Tagovailoa could find Waddle one-on-one down the sideline for a 32-yard gain. Rookie running back De’Von Achane added five yards on a run before a holding penalty negated a one-yard reception for the rookie. He returned on the next play to gain four yards on a reception, but an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-11 led to a field goal attempt. Safety Brenden Schooler ran from just inside the sideline parallel to the line of scrimmage, then cut in on the snap for the field goal attempt, blocking the kick with seeming ease. The Patriots took over at the Miami 49-yard line.
That field goal block play will be shown a lot. That was something new, and it worked really, really well. It will be interesting to see if they try it again later and if Miami has an answer for it.
Not sure how X spun and got his feet down with Parker all over him, but that was a great pick!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) September 18, 2023
Starting near midfield, the Patriots threw to Henry for nine yards to start the drive, they continued to press. After an incomplete pass, Stevenson ran for seven yards. Another incomplete pass was followed by a pass from Jones to Bourne for eight yards. Stevenson ran for one yards on 3rd-and-2, coming up just short of the marker. After a tush-push first-down run from Jones, the quarterback looked free for Parker down the sideline, but cornerback Xavien Howard picked off the pass and gave Miami back the ball.
What a pick from Howard. Parker was hanging all over him, but the cornerback managed to secure the ball, spin, and get both feet down. Well done.
Miami started at their own three-yard line, with an incomplete pass starting the drive. A Mostert run for three yards gave the Dolphins some breathing room, but an incomplete pass toward Hill as he fell in his route set up Miami for a three-and-out drive. The quarter ended before the punt.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins punted after the break.
There was not a lot Miami could do there. They stopped the drive from the Patriots but were trapped pretty deep in their own territory. They had chances to convert a first down but came up just short. Cannot really fault them for not attacking there.
The Patriots began at their own 42-yard line after the punt, with Jones finding Henry for 13 yards on the first play. Jones then connected with Smith-Schuster for 12 yards down the sideline. After a sack by defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and a one-yard loss on a pass from Jones to Smith-Schuster, with the tackle from cornerback Kader Kohou, Jones was able to scramble for 18 yards and add five yards on a defensive holding penalty against Howard. Stevenson ran for six yards to take the ball to the Miami six-yard line, with Jones then able to find Henry for the touchdown. Dolphins 17-10.
Miami has dominated this game, but they are not putting up points right now, and the Patriots have done what they normally do now: try to make a comeback. New England has habitually given up points early, then rallying late. The Dolphins have to shut that down here, or this could take a bad swing over the remaining 11 minutes.
The Dolphins started with a seven-yard run from Mostert on a play that looked like a bust from the start, with a high snap nearly going over the head of Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa then connected with Smythe for an eight-yard pass and a first down. Tagovailoa then looked deep down the left side for Hill, but rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez high-pointed the ball and took it away from the receiver for a Patriots interception.
Ouch. Not at all what was supposed to happen there. Great play from Gonzalez, but ouch.
An incomplete pass by the Patriots started the possession after the pick. Jones was then sacked for a 10-yard loss by Van Ginkel, dropping the Patriots back to their own four-yard line. Jones scrambled away from pressure on third down and had an open Gesicki down the sideline but could not connect, and the Patriots punted after the three-and-out.
Okay, the defense bailed out the offense again. Now it is time for the offense to repay it and put some points and some breathing room on the board.
Starting at the Patriots’ 43-yard line after a 12-yard punt return by Berrios, Miami handed the ball to Mostert, who took it the entire way for the score without being touched. Dolphins 24-10.
That’s how you repay it. The offense did not give the defense a breather with such a fast score. I am not complaining; I am just putting that out there.
The Patriots started at their own 25-yard line, beginning with a pass toward Parker with Apple called for pass interference. On the next play, Jones threw to Gesicki for five yards, then another defensive pass interference penalty on Apple as he covered Parker and gave the Patriots a free first down. A pass from Jones to Stevenson picked up three yards, then, after an incomplete pass, Parker gained 14 yards on a catch. Jones threw to Henry for seven yards before two Stevenson runs picked up 17 yards and moved the ball to the Miami 13-yard line. An 11-yard pass to Smith-Schuster was followed by a Stevenson run for two yards and the score. Dolphins 24-17.
I should not have put that out there. The Patriots came out throwing, and the Dolphins could not stop it. Parker had a good possession against his former team. That was why the Dolphins needed to score and create some breathing room. Now, they need to do it again. Miami needs a sustained drive here, ending with points.
The Dolphins started at their own 25, burning a timeout before even running the first play. Mostert picked up five yards on the first play, then Tagovailoa looked deep to Waddle, who could not complete the catch. A helmet-to-helmet hit on Waddle as he came down gave Miami a first down but also sent Waddle to the medical tent. Three straight runs from Mostert picked up 19 yards to bring Miami to a 3rd-and-1 at the Patriots’ 35-yard line. The snap issues from the preseason and last week popped up again on the next play, with Tagovailoa having to pick up the loose ball and trying to make something out of the play but only getting back to the line of scrimmage. Miami attempted a 55-yard field goal, but it hooked wide left and Miami came away with no points.
The drive looked good, but then just stalled out. Waddle’s health is a concern now.
Starting at their own 45-yard line with 2:14 left, the Patriots started with a three-yard pass to Bourne. After the two-minute warning, Jones found Bourne again, this time for 13 yards. Jones was sacked on the first down play by Chubb, backing them up to the Dolphins’ 47-yard line. After an incomplete pass on 2nd-and-18, Jones threw to Gesicki, who flipped the ball back to offensive lineman Cole Strange. Initially ruled a first down, replay determined he came up just short of the line of gain and Miami took over on downs.
That was way too close. Gesicki was nearly the hero there for the Patriots. Miami got lucky.
The Dolphins knelt to kill the clock.