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Bill Belichick has optimistic tone on Patriots’ ‘disappointing’ Week 1 loss vs. Dolphins

Bill Belichick Patriots Mac Jones Tua Tagovailoa

The Patriots lost by multiple scores in their season-opening loss to the Dolphins, falling 20-7 on Sunday.

Yet, Patriots coach Bill Belichick is only harping on a couple plays from the loss.

“Well, it’s obviously a disappointing start here,” Belichick said. “It was really a pretty even game. Two big plays, 14 points, really skewed the game.”

The two plays Belichick is referring to are the two plays the Dolphins scored touchdowns on. The first came on a safety blitz, in which Dolphins safety Brandon Jones got a clean path to Patriots cornerback Mac Jones to sack him and jar the ball loose. Dolphins linebacker Melvin Ingram was right there to scoop the ball up and only had to run a few yards to get into the end zone to extend the Dolphins’ lead to 10-0.

Miami’s other touchdown came in the waning moments of the first half. On fourth-and-7, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa found receiver Jaylen Waddle over the middle for a completion. With three Patriots defensive backs surrounding him, Waddle should have been tackled right past the first down marker. Safety Kyle Dugger took a bad angle though on attempting to tackle him, allowing Waddle to break free and score on a 42-yard touchdown pass.

Outside of those two plays, the Patriots and Dolphins had similar yardage. New England finished the day with 271 yards (would’ve been 280 without the strip sack) while Miami had 307 yards (would’ve been around 280 had Waddle been tackled by Dugger on the touchdown grab).

However, the Patriots committed two turnovers to the Dolphins’ zero. Both of New England’s turnovers came in Miami territory, too. Jones tried to find DeVante Parker on a fade pass to the end zone on the Patriots’ opening drive. Dolphins All-Pro corner Xavien Howard won the physical battle though and tapped the ball to safety Jevon Holland for the interception.

New England’s other turnover came on its final drive of the game when Nelson Agholor fumbled after making a five-yard grab at Miami’s 38-yard line.

Belichick thought the team had played well at moments, but failed in big spots.

[We] moved the ball. We couldn’t get enough points, and we got into their territory. We got in their six, seven times, whatever it was, and it was 7 points,” Belichick said. “So we’ve got to do a better job of finishing. Defensively, gave up a big play there at the end of the half and a couple field goals, but still need to play better on third down. Obviously getting the ball back there at the end of the game.

“Not enough good things to win. A couple bad plays really hurt us. Need to finish some drives better on both sides of the ball and make an impact.”

In addition to the minus-2 turnover differential, the Patriots also failed to stop the Dolphins on third down at a good enough rate. Miami converted 6-of-14 third downs, including three of its last four to help run the clock out.

After falling in Week 1, Belichick’s message to his team is simple.

“It’s a long season,” Belichick said. “I don’t think it will be decided after this week’s games.”