New England Patriots: 3 issues that caused the Pats season opening loss

Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots Issue No. 3: A lack of ball security

One of the things Miami did win in this game was the turnover battle, as the Pats lost two fumbles, whereas the Dolphins only had a lone interception thrown by Tua Tagovailoa. In total, the Patriots had four fumbles on the day, showcasing an inexcusable lack of ball security that easily lost the team this game.

The main one that sticks out is Damien Harris‘ fumble late in the fourth quarter. The Patriots were deep in Miami territory, and only needed a field goal to take the lead. But Harris got greedy when he didn’t really have to, and ended up coughing up the football in an attempt to fight his way towards the endzone.

While Harris’ fumble was certainly untimely, and cost the Patriots a shot at taking the lead, he wasn’t the only culprit. Mac Jones didn’t make too many mistakes yesterday, but he very nearly made a major mistake on his first drive when he decided to try to flip the ball backwards to Jonnu Smith while being tackled by three Dolphins players. Smith was luckily able to pounce on the ball and prevent a touchdown, but it ended up knocking the Pats out of field goal range, and they were eventually forced to punt.

Smith would fumble himself in the redzone a few possessions later, but David Andrews was right on the scene and ensured the Patriots held onto the football. Nick Folk buried a field goal on the ensuing play, so the Patriots avoided catastrophe here.

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They weren’t as lucky on their fourth fumble, which was courtesy of rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson had a nice catch out of the backfield before he lost the ball on his was to the ground. Stevenson seemed to think he was down and provided basically no resistance, and ended up finding himself in head coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse for the rest of the game.

Simply put, you shouldn’t expect to win many games when you fumble the ball four times. New England was lucky that they were able to pounce on two of them, as it very easily could have been much worse. You can bet this is going to be an area of focus for the Patriots as they begin preparations for their upcoming game against the New York Jets.