A blocked field goal that prevented Miami from taking a three-score lead. An interception that set the Patriots up for what could have been the game-tying drive. Another missed Miami field goal.
And none of it amounted to anything for New England on Sunday night.
“The defense has continued to do a great job. They’ve just got to keep doing their thing,” said Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who for the second straight week had the ball with a chance to win the game in the final minute. “We’ve got to figure it out on our side.”
The Patriots’ offense provided few highlights in a 24-17 loss to Miami that dropped them to 0-2 for the first time since Tom Brady took over as the starting quarterback. What’s worse: Jones failed to capitalize on big plays by the defense and special teams that kept the Patriots in the game.
“This wasn’t our day,” Jones said. “Hasn’t been our day for the last two weeks.”
One week after falling behind the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles 16-0, the Patriots trailed 17-3 late in the third quarter on Sunday night when Miami lined up for a 49-yard field goal attempt. New England’s Brenden Schooler set up to the far right, then sprinted along the line of scrimmage and, when the ball was snapped, swerved into the backfield to snuff out the kick.
Kyle Dugger picked it up deep in the Dolphins backfield, and only a quick tackle by Christian Wilkins stopped him from racing to the end zone. Jones then drove the Patriots to a pair of first downs before lofting a pass toward the end zone, where Xavien Howard got inside position on the receiver and pulled it down at the 3 for the interception.
New England made Miami punt, and Jones drove New England to the Dolphins 6 before hitting Hunter Henry in the end zone to make it 17-10. But after Christian Gonzalez picked off Tua Tagovailoa, the Patriots went backwards, forcing Bryce Baringer to punt from his own end zone.
On Miami’s first play, Raheem Mostert broke through the line untouched and went 43 yards for a touchdown.
New England had one last chance after Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders missed a 55-yard field-goal attempt with a seven-point lead and just over two minutes remaining. Jones brought the Patriots to the Miami 33 and connected with tight end Mike Gesicki on a fourth-and-4 pass.
Stopped near the line of scrimmage, Gesicki pitched the ball to offensive lineman Cole Strange, who bulled ahead for another four yards before he was brought down right at the 30. The play was originally ruled a first down, but the replay showed Strange was stopped short of the marker; the Dolphins took over on downs and kneeled out the clock.
“We’ve just got to do a better job when it matters the most,” center David Andrews said. “And stop playing from behind. That’s two weeks in a row playing from behind. It’s hard to play catch-up in this league. … It’s not how you want to play the game.”
The last time the Patriots lost their first two games was in 2001 with Drew Bledsoe at quarterback — coach Bill Belichick’s second season in New England. Bledsoe was injured and replaced by Brady in the Week 2 loss to the Jets, but the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that season and in two of the next three as well.
“I feel like we’re a great team. I feel like we’ve shown great things these last two games, really promising things,” defensive lineman Deatrich Wise said. “We just need to keep trusting the process and things will turn around.”