The Patriots tried to acclimate themselves to the warm South Florida climate by spending the practice week in the area.
But in the end, the Dolphins got off to a hot start in the Mike McDaniel era, defeating New England 20-7 in the season opener.
Miami’s defense was able to keep New England’s offense off-balance for much of the contest, forcing a pair of costly turnovers in the first half. Safety Jevon Holland picked off a tipped pass to end the Patriots’ first drive of the game, which led to a field goal.
Then in the second quarter, safety Brandon Jones strip-sacked quarterback Mac Jones deep in New England territory. Edge rusher Melvin Ingram had the ball bounce right into his hands and picked it up for a 2-yard touchdown.
But the call of the game likely came from McDaniel on fourth-and-7 with 24 seconds left in the first half. McDaniel elected to go for it and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa connected with receiver Jaylen Waddle on a pass over the middle for a 42-yard touchdown. That gave the Dolphins a 17-0 lead going into halftime.
The Patriots used a long drive to score their first points in the third quarter. But New England couldn’t convert a key fourth-and-3 at midfield with 9:46 left in the game when Jones threw incomplete to tight end Hunter Henry.
Later in the fourth quarter, receiver Nelson Agholor fumbled a reception over the middle when he took a hard hit from Kader Kohou. Linebacker Jaelan Phillips recovered the loose ball to keep Miami in control.
The Dolphins removed all doubt when Tagovailoa hit Chase Edmonds for a 15-yard pass on third-and-9 with 3:21 left and then running back Raheem Mostert brought the offense down to the 24-yard line with an 11-yard run before the two-minute warning.
With the win, Tagovailoa is the first quarterback to go 4-0 against Bill Belichick’s Patriots in the regular season. Tagovailoa finished the game 23-of-33 passing for 270 yards with a touchdown.
Receiver Tyreek Hill had eight catches for 94 yards in his Miami debut.
On the other side, Mac Jones was 21-of-30 for 213 yards with a touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble.
At 1-0, Miami will travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens next week.
The 0-1 Patriots will be on the road again with a trip to Pittsburgh.