MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Patriots’ hot streak lasted exactly one week before the team turned cold Sunday in muggy South Florida.
The 2-6 Patriots couldn’t keep up with the speedy Dolphins in Week 8’s 31-17 intra-division loss. That came after an encouraging effort by the Patriots’ offense in their Week 7 win over the Bills.
Things actually started relatively promising for the Patriots, who took an early lead off of an interception from safety Kyle Dugger off of Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, giving the offense a short field.
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After a throwaway and a 6-yard run by running back Rhamondre Stevenson, quarterback Mac Jones found Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne in the middle of the field for a 24-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
It took just a little over three minutes for the Dolphins to respond on a six-play, 75-yard drive that saw Tagvailoa find wide receiver Tyreek Hill zooming downfield with Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson and rookie safety Marte Mapu lagging behind in his tracks on a 42-yard deep touchdown.
The Patriots quickly went three-and-out, losing 11 yards in the process on their ensuing drive before the Dolphins scored again.
This time, the Dolphins plodded down the field on a 14-play, 53-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to wide receiver Cedric Wilson. Jackson, who was penalized for a relatively soft defensive pass interference penalty on the drive, was in coverage on that play, as well.
Another promising Patriots offensive drive ended with a Jones interception on a target to Bourne that was jumped by All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, returning from injury in his Dolphins debut.
The Dolphins responded with a field goal after an eight-play, 28-yard drive before the Patriots kneeled on the ball to end the half with 26 seconds left on the game clock.
A Dolphins fumble to begin the second half on a muffed handoff from Tagovailoa to running back Raheem Mostert that was scooped up by linebacker Anfernee Jennings gave the Patriots life. Jones and Co. lost a yard before rookie kicker Chad Ryland knocked through a field goal to cut the Dolphins’ lead to 17-10.
The Dolphins, with little resistance from a Patriots defense that lost linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley to a hamstring injury, went 77 yards on nine plays before Mostert walked into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run to make the score 24-10.
The Patriots and Dolphins then exchanged four consecutive punts before Jones ended the scoring drought with a 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had entered the game after Bourne was ruled out with a knee injury and DeVante Parker was out with a head ailment. The score, which came after a 13-play, 81-yard drive that saw Jones spread the ball around to tight end Hunter Henry, wide receiver Demario Douglas and Stevenson, cut the Dolphins’ lead to 24-17.
The dagger came with 2:43 left in the game when Tagovailoa found a wide-open Jaylen Waddle in the middle of the field for an easy 31-yard catch and run touchdown. The Dolphins sent Hill in motion, and both Jack Jones and Jonathan Jones followed him in coverage, leaving Waddle standing in the middle of the field without a defender in the vicinity.
S Kyle Dugger: Dugger was everywhere for the Patriots, intercepting a pass, recording a sack and leading the team with seven tackles.
WR Kendrick Bourne: Before leaving the game with a knee injury, Bourne caught three catches on four targets for 36 yards with a touchdown.
DT Christian Barmore: Barmore had had a strong three-week stretch. The 2021 second-round pick registered five tackles and a sack.
CB J.C. Jackson: The veteran cornerback allowed two touchdowns in Sunday’s loss. He was charged with defensive pass interference, but it was a pretty ticky-tack flag Jackson.
S Marte Mapu: The rookie defender trailed far behind Hill on the Dolphins’ 42-yard touchdown connection. He saw his playing time decrease after the play.
QB Mac Jones: It wasn’t an awful performance from Jones, but the bar is pretty low for the young quarterback this season. He was 19-of-29 for 161 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and two more near-picks. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa was 30-of-45 for 324 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.