Here are five quick takes from the Patriots’ 17-16 season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins here at Gillette Stadium:
Jonnu takes charge
The Patriots have a Swiss Army knife of a pass catcher — tight end Jonnu Smith. Smith hauled in five receptions for 42 yards, all for first downs. He was used in several ways, including for blocking. The bulky, yet speedy, Smith was as good as advertised and as energetic a Patriot as there is on offense.
Mac over Tua
The Alabama Bowl goes to Mac Jones over Tua Tagovailoa if we looking at who played better.
Jones got better as the game went on, making three consecutive and crucial third-down passes for first downs in the fourth quarter. Tua completed a pair of go-patterns to Jaylen Waddle for 25 yards and another to Davonta Parker for 36 yards, leading to 10 points. Other than that, it wasn’t much. Jones was more of a factor in the Patriots offense than Tua was in the Dolphins. Tua won the game, but Mac was the better player.
J.C lost one key battle
J.C. Jackson didn’t play a bad game, but the Patriots cornerback was not the shutdown guy the Patriots needed last night. While there were a few slants, it was one big 30-yarder go-pattern to Parker, with Jackson in front of him, that changed the game.
It was on 3rd-and-8 and Jackson saw the ball the entire time, having position. But he mistimed his jump on the sidelines and Parker pulled it away. It was an easy drive for the Dolphins to open the second half, giving them the final points they needed in the win.
Harris’ hollow 100
Damien Harris knows what humble pie taste like, because he was eating it after the Patriots blew an opportunity to go ahead after his fumble on the Dolphins’ 9 yard-line. Those 2 yards gained got him to 100 yards, but it ended up being meaningless as the Patriots not only lost the ball, but they never got it back after that with 3:31 left in the game. The second half was a lot tougher for Harris, has gained only 28 yards on 12 carries.
“It was a tough day,” he said. “Obviously, I have to do a better job of holding onto the ball, especially in a critical situation like that. But it’s a long season. (I’m) not going to let this mistake define me.”
White always a weapon
James White was, well, James White last night. He had one catch for 4yards in the first half, but ended up leading the team in receptions (6) and was second in yards (49), making two crucial third down catches in the fourth quarter. He also added 12 yards on the ground. He is probably the game’s best change-of-pace back, particularly on third down. It was another very good game from the veteran.