FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots’ storybook finish to the first game of the Mac Jones era was derailed by a fumble in a game full of them for New England, as the Dolphins escaped Gillette Stadium with a 17-16 win Sunday.
With the Patriots down by a point and driving deep into Miami territory for what looked like a likely go-ahead score, Damien Harris lost a fumble at the Dolphins’ 9-yard line with 3:31 left.
The fumble was New England’s fourth of the game. They lost two of them.
In his first career game, Jones, the Patriots’ rookie quarterback, completed 29 of 39 pass attempts for 281 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots’ offense looked out of sync for much of the first half of their first game of the 2021 season. They fumbled three times and lost one of them.
Springfield’s Christian Wilkins strip-sacked Jones on first-and-10 on Miami’s 30 on the Patriots’ opening drive. Jonnu Smith recovered the fumble, but the 13-yard loss took the Patriots out of field goal range. Miami answered with an efficient 80-yard march capped by Tua Tagovailoa’s 3-yard TD run that put the visitors up 7-0.
After Nick Folk’s 27-yard field goal to made it 7-3, Jones’ first career touchdown pass gave the Patriots their first lead. His 7-yard strike to Nelson Agholor with 2:30 left in the half made it 10-7, but Jason Sanders’ 48-yard field goal tied the score 10-10 at halftime.
The Patriots answered the Dolphins’ touchdown to open the second half with a 42-yard Folk field goal and trailed 17-13 after the third quarter.
Folk added a 33-yarder with 10:36 left in the game bringing New England within one at 17-16 before Harris’ fumble.
Story by Matt Vautour, masslive.com