MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa has never lost to New England coach Bill Belichick.
The Miami Dolphins' quarterback still considers the division rival Patriots one of the toughest opponents to beat.
Tagovailoa moved to 6-0 in his career against Belichick, throwing for 324 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the Dolphins' 31-17 win over the Patriots on Sunday.
“If you look at a lot of the games, none of them were runaway games,” Tagovailoa said. “To me, those are always tough games. If you turn the ball over the way I have, it makes it a tough game, and you keep those guys in the game.”
Miami won for the 16th time in its past 18 home games and swept the Patriots. The Dolphins, 6-2 for the first time since 2001, have a one-game lead over Buffalo in the AFC East.
Tagovailoa completed 30 of 45 passes and moved his league-leading yardage total to 2,416. Jaylen Waddle had seven catches for 121 yards and a touchdown, and Tyreek Hill had eight receptions for 112 yards and a score, becoming the first player in the Super Bowl era to top 1,000 receiving yards through eight games.
“You get a great litmus test of where you're at as a football team when you have a division game, and then on top of that you're going overseas the next week," coach Mike McDaniel said, “and on top of that you have ‘Hard Knocks’ the week after. That is leading the league in potential distractions. So I knew we were going to find out a lot about our team today.”
Mac Jones had another uneven day for the Patriots (2-6), throwing for 161 yards on 19-of-29 passing with two touchdowns and one interception.
“We all need to play better," Belichick said. "We all just need to coach and play better.”
The Patriots trailed 24-10 midway through the fourth quarter when they drove inside the Miami 3 and scored on fourth down. Jones connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster for the receiver's first touchdown this season to get the Patriots within seven.
The Dolphins responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, and Waddle waltzed into the end zone for an easy 31-yard score.
Smith-Schuster made a hard hit on Dolphins safety Brandon Jones on the Patriots’ final drive as Jones was attempting to come down with an interception. The play resulted in a brief skirmish between the teams near the Patriots’ sideline before Miami ran out the clock.
Jalen Ramsey shined in his Dolphins debut. Ramsey intercepted Jones on a pass intended for Kendrick Bourne and returned it 49 yards in the second quarter. He missed the first seven games of the season after having surgery in July to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
“It was a good play,” Ramsey said, “but in order for it to be a great play, in order for me to help the team out a little bit more, I should have scored.”
The Dolphins turned the ball over twice, and the Patriots scored both times.
Tagovailoa was sacked on Miami's second drive and threw an interception on the next play, which the Patriots turned into a 7-0 lead when Jones found Bourne for a 24-yard touchdown.
Raheem Mostert fumbled at Miami's 19 on the first play of the third quarter with the Dolphins up 17-7. That resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Chad Ryland. Mostert later contributed his NFL-best 10th rushing touchdown of the season — a 1-yard score that put the Dolphins ahead 24-10.
Hill, who was limited by a hip injury this week, has made clear his goal to surpass 2,000 receiving yards, and he's more than halfway there at 1,014.
After his 42-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, Hill simply sat on the Dolphins' bench. He had been flagged in Miami's previous two home games for unsportsmanlike conduct for his celebrations.
“I'm just tired of these fines. The NFL fines me so much," Hill said. “I don't want to be a part no NFL fines for the rest of the year.”
BACK IN THE END ZONE
Cedrick Wilson caught Tagovailoa's second touchdown pass in the second quarter. It was Wilson's first touchdown since before Miami picked him up in free agency last year. He hadn't scored since Week 18 of 2021 with Dallas.
Former Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker took a hard hit to his head from Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott in the third quarter and left to be evaluated for a concussion. Parker appeared disoriented when he tried to get to his feet. He stumbled for a few seconds before teammates grabbed him. He was helped off the field and immediately ruled out with a head injury.
Elliott's helmet appeared to make contact with Parker's on the hit. No flag was thrown.
“I went up under his chin,” Elliott said after the game. "It was legal, and if the league tries to fine me I’m going to appeal it regardless. I think it was a clean hit.”
Patriots: LB Ja'Whaun Bentley injured a hamstring in the second quarter and didn't return. ... CB Myles Bryant was helped off the field with a hamstring injury. ... Bourne left with a knee injury in the fourth.
Dolphins: RG Rob Hunt injured a hamstring in the second quarter and did not return. ... Jones remained on the ground for a while after the hit from Smith-Schuster.
Patriots: Host Washington next Sunday.
Dolphins: Travel to Frankfurt, Germany, where they are the designated home team against Kansas City next Sunday.
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