The Miami Dolphins are now 2-0 to start the 2023 season on the strength of a 24-17 victory on Sunday Night Football in Foxborough, Massachusetts against the New England Patriots. Mike McDaniel is now 2-0 for the second straight season, starting this year out with two AFC road wins.
The Sunday night win was slightly different from Week 1’s victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. While last week was an airshow, Sunday night was more like a monster truck expedition with Raheem Mostert.
Dealing with rumors of running backs throughout most of the offseason, Mostert ran with pride and conviction on his way to his fourth career 100-yard-plus rushing performance.
He finished the game with 145 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns. He now has three touchdowns on the season. Mostert was the clear MVP on offense, while Tua Tagovailoa was very efficient, hitting all of his targets and spreading the ball out to connect with seven different Dolphins pass catchers.
Tagovailoa was able to hit Tyreek Hill for his lone touchdown pass of the night while Jaylen Waddle led the way with 86 receiving yards. Hill totaled 40 yards on five catches. Tagovailoa finished the game 21-of-30 for 249 yards and that Hill touchdown with a 92.2 passer rating. He did throw one interception which was a fantastic play by rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez.
On the defensive side of the ball, Bradley Chubb had a coming-out party for the Dolphins, and Andrew Van Ginkel had the game of his career. Both Chubb and Van Ginkel recorded sacks on Mac Jones, as Miami totaled four on the game and pressured the New England quarterback throughout the evening.
With outside linebacker Jalen Phillips out Sunday with a back injury, Van Ginkel started and played outstanding. He finished with six tackles, three quarterback hits, a sack, a pass defended and a last play of the game save.
On the last Patriots’ offensive play, trying desperately to even the score, a completion to Mike Gesicki and his lateral nearly created a first down as the seconds ran down the clock. After catching a pass, Gesicki tried to fight for first but then pitched to Patriots guard Cole Strange, who nearly bullied his way with the help of the pile for a first down.
It was initially ruled as such until the upstairs booth reviewed the play, which showed that Van Ginkel made a tackle literally grabbing the ball on, forcing the lineman to be stopped just before the first on marker. In what could’ve been the game-saving play, Van Ginkel made those all night.
Defensive leader, Christian Wilkins also got in for a sack and totaled six tackles. The Dolphins’ defense collectively held the Patriots to 88 rushing yards on just 3.5 yards per carry.
Xavien Howard blanketed DeVante Parker and recorded an exquisite interception, where he defended the former Dolphins receiver perfectly, making an absolutely stellar catch and toe-tap on the sidelines for the turnover.
The dark spot of the game was the kicking area, as Jason Sanders had a field goal blocked and had one go wide left that could’ve clinched the game. This is an area that the Dolphins truly need to work on.
The Dolphins prepare for a week, three home opener at Hard Rock Stadium against the Denver Broncos. The former team of current defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, whose Miami defensive unit had a complete 180 type of performance from last week in Los Angeles.
He’ll look to replicate that against a team he used to be a head coach for as recently as 2020.
The Dolphins look to start 2023 3-0, and it’s to be noted that they’re doing this without their prize offseason acquisition Jalen Ramsey as well as veteran Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead, who has yet to play this year. And, don’t forget, they’ll get Nik Needham back in hopefully a few weeks as well.
The Dolphins are 2-0. They look to build off of this momentum, get key players back soon and hope to take advantage of an AFC conference that’s theirs for the taking.