History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme. And for the Miami Dolphins, this might be the way the song goes in 2023: Get enough plays early from the offense and late from the defense to survive on the road.
They’ve tried it twice now, and twice it’s worked. The Dolphins are one of three remaining undefeated AFC teams after surviving the host New England Patriots 24-17 Sunday night.
Winners and Losers From Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots
Winner | RB Raheem Mostert
In Week 1, Tua Tagovailoa’s left arm carried the Dolphins to victory. In Week 2, they rode the legs of Raheem Mostert, who went for 121 yards (third-highest output of his career) and two touchdowns.
It was out of necessity.
The Patriots, in the words of Tagovailoa, threw “an umbrella” over the deep part of the field, selling out to ensure that Tyreek Hill (five catches for 40 yards) and Jaylen Waddle (four for 86 before leaving with a concussion) did not beat them deep.
Instead, they bled out from dozens of cuts, with Mostert averaging 6.7 yards per carry — a figure boosted by a 43-yard scamper.
“It’s always going to be a special number,” Mostert said of going over 100 yards. “It means you’re doing your thing.”
Raheem Mostert on the TD celebrations. pic.twitter.com/6d4hTRxYk8
— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) September 18, 2023
Loser | Dolphins Special Teams
If the Patriots had a bit more offense, we’d be talking about how failures in the kicking game cost the Dolphins a shot at 2-0.
Instead, the Dolphins got off the field on New England’s final drive — surviving a wild lateral play in which the ball ended up in the hands of lineman Cole Strange just inches short of the sticks on third down.
But at some point, a bad special teams performance (not to mention the persistent center-quarterback exchange issues) will lose a game for Miami.
Jason Sanders had one field goal blocked — by Brendan Schooler in one of those more remarkable combinations of scheme and playmaking you’ll see — and pulled another to the left in the second half.
Patriots special teamer Brenden Schooler got a running start before blocking Jason Sanders' 49-yard field goal attempt.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 18, 2023
Winner | Vic Fangio
The Dolphins were down their best pass rusher (Jaelan Phillips) and still tallied four sacks, eight tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, and forced a fumble Sunday night.
That’s a testament to Vic Fangio, Bradley Chubb, and Andrew Van Ginkel, who all had arguably their best games as a member of the Dolphins.
AVG took many of Phillips’ reps on the edge and made the most of them. He had six tackles (including one for loss), a sack, three quarterback hits, and a pass defensed.
Chubb, meanwhile, looked like the player the Dolphins thought they were getting when they surrendered a first-round pick to the Broncos last fall. He tallied seven tackles (two for loss), forced a fumble, and had a sack and two quarterback hits.
“[Van Ginkel] probably knows the defense better than anyone,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said postgame. “That was a great move to get in front of, with Vic, [Anthony] Campanile, [Ryan] Slowik, and Austin Clark identifying the potential of him. For him to be able to come in and not just play but be an impactful force says everything about him and everybody around him as well.
“It was really cool to see that, but it didn’t surprise us, really. I figured he’d have a pretty good game.”
— KaldronyNFL (@kaldrony) September 18, 2023
Loser | Eli Apple
With Xavien Howard looking like the Xavien Howard of old — he had an interception and six tackles — expect teams to target Eli Apple more and more, particularly after what he put on tape Sunday night.
The Patriots picked on Apple a fair amount, and while he did respond with two pass breakups, he missed too many opportunities to make plays.
It would not at all be a surprise to see rookie Cam Smith get incorporated into the defense as time goes on.
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