New England Patriots: Top 3 plays from season opener vs Miami

Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

It’s safe to say that the New England Patriots 2021 regular season opener did not go the way they expected it to.

After retooling their roster this past offseason and dominating the preseason, expectations had been heightened in a sense for the Patriots. That’s why it was a bit disappointing to see them not come away with a victory against the Miami Dolphins, losing by a score of 17-16.

While the Patriots did end up losing, it wasn’t all negative. In fact, for the most part, the Patriots dominated the proceedings in this one. They made a couple of big mistakes throughout the game that ultimately doomed them, and allowed the Dolphins to somehow squeak out a hard fought victory.

Excitement was budding to watch the new look Patriots, and some of the new faces came in and made an immediate impact. While there were some plays these guys will want to forget as soon as they can, there was also some plays that inspired hope that this team can accomplish things this season. Let’s take a look at the Patriots top three plays from their Week 1 opener.

New England Patriots top three plays against the Miami Dolphins

No. 3: Josh Uche’s explosive sack

Josh Uche was one of the stars of the Patriots offseason programs, and he parlayed that into a relatively successful start to the 2021 regular season. Uche only saw 15 snaps on the day, but certainly made the most of them. He picked up one of the Patriots two sacks on the day, and absolutely manhandled the Dolphins fill-in left tackle Liam Eichenberg on this play.

If Uche can keep making plays like these, you can expect his snap count to continue to increase as the season progresses. The edge rusher depth chart is a bit crowded with Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy sitting in front of Uche, but he already surpassed his fellow Michigan Wolverine Chase Winovich, as he only had 12 snaps compared to Uche’s 15. Uche continues to look like a star in the making, and plays like this prove why his potential is so high.

No. 2: Jalen Mills touchdown saving pass breakup

Jalen Mills had been questionable all week to suit up for this contest after dealing with an ankle injury, but he toughed it out and made the play of the day in the Patriots secondary. After New England took a 10-7 lead, Miami was driving down the field looking for points. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took a shot downfield for Albert Wilson, who appeared to have a step on Mills, but Mills recovered well, and made a fantastic leaping play to swat a for-sure touchdown away.

It’s clear Tagovailoa made a great throw here, but Mills ended up making an even better play. Mills’ full extension pass breakup here saved a touchdown, and forced Miami to settle for three points right before the half ended. Mills may not have been feeling 100 percent in this one, but he surely didn’t show that on this play here.

No. 1: Mac Jones drops a dime for a James White

You could technically say Mac Jones first career touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor earlier in the game was a more highlight worthy play. While it was a nice play, it wasn’t Jones best play of the day. That would be this absolute beauty of a throw he made to James White midway through the third.

There are a couple reasons this play is so exciting if you are a New England Patriots fan. To start, the throw is absolute money. Jones pretty effortlessly drops this in the breadbasket for White 25 yards down the field. And it’s not as if White was wide open, as the coverage from Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker was pretty tight.

The circumstances of the play also are worthy of being touched on. This came on third and 11, with the Patriots trailing by seven in the third quarter. Your typical NFL rookie wouldn’t have the poise to pull off a pass of this difficult, but Jones does it with ease here.

Next. 5 observations from Patriots season opening loss. dark

The Patriots promoted Jones to the starting quarterback for this reason. If Cam Newton is under center, there’s just no way this pass gets completed. There were a lot of reasons to be encouraged about Jones’ first regular season action, but this was by far his best throw of the day, and the New England Patriots best play of the day.