The Patriots took the 2020 season opener by a 21-11 final over the Miami Dolphins. Read below for our live updates from before and during the game.
— Q4, 5:23: Patriots respond to the response. A big-boy drive – literally. After a mostly-run drive gets them to fourth-and-1 inside the 10, Newton lines up with two tight ends and two eligible offensive lineman to power ahead. One play later, Sony Michel punches it in from the 1 to put the Pats back up multiple scores. 21-11 Patriots.
— Q4, 10:31: Dolphins respond to N’Keal Harry’s costly fumble with a touchdown drive. They went for it on 4th-and-2 at midfield and drew a defensive pass interference flag on Stephon Gilmore that flipped the field. Jordan Howard pounded it in from the 2-yard line, and Ryan Fitzpatrick runs it in on the two-point attempt. 14-11 Patriots.
— End Quarter 3: A methodical, promising Patriots drive ends up with no points to show for it. Rookie RB J.J. Taylor picks up positive yards every time he touches the ball; he got four touches this drive. Unfortunately, N’Keal Harry fumbled the ball through the end zone, so the drive ends with a touchback for the Dolphins. Harry learns the hard way why Bill Belichick would prefer he just tuck the ball and go down instead of reaching over the goal line.
— Q3, 10:14: Patriots go 75 yards in eight plays and 4:46. Cam Newton with a sharp drive coming out to start the second half. Went 4-for-4 passing with quick strikes to Julian Edelman (3) and James White. Caps the drive with an under-center bootleg run for a TD. 14-3 Patriots.
— Here’s how the Patriots distributed their offensive personnel packages in the first half:
Lot of heavy looks in the run game, and mainly three wide receivers in the passing game. Rookie guard Michael Onwenu looks like the go-to guy as an extra tackle/eligible tight end.
— Q2, 0:01: Nick Folk is short from 45 yards out. Patriots squander a chance to escape the first half with no points.
— Q2, 0:31: Adrian Phillips makes the interception on a Fitzpatrick pass intended for Preston Williams. The free-agent addition could be a sneaky-good add for the defense.
— Q2, 2:13: Another punt for the Patriots offense, their third in four possessions. Cam Newton’s first-down attempt is batted down at the line. On second down, rookie RB J.J. Taylor gets his first career carry but appears to trip himself up. And a third-down draw with James White comes up one yard short. The Patriots, however, pinned the Dolphins at the 8-yard line on the punt.
— Q2, 3:53: Dolphins run 10 plays and 5:16 off the clock, but all they get out of it is a field goal. Ryan Fitzpatrick went hurry-up and made a couple of big throws down the field against soft zones. But an incompletion intended for Preston Williams forced Miami to settle for a field goal to make it 7-3 Patriots.
Interesting to note that Joejuan Williams covered Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki one-on-one. He appears to be making a move to safety and playing the role of covering TEs. Rookies Kyle Dugger and Anfernee Jennings also got a look on that last drive.
— Q2, 11:47: Stephon Gilmore with his first big play of the season. The cornerback was draped all over Dolphins wideout Preston Williams and made a leaping catch to pick off Ryan Fitzpatrick’s high throw. Patriots get the ball back quickly.
— Q2, 13:12: Cam Newton is on the board. The Patriots’ new starting quarterback engineered an 11-play drive and drove the Pats 80 yards, capping it with a four-yard touchdown run. The Patriots are running a lot of RPOs with Newton and his throws have looked sharp so far. 7-0 Patriots.
— End First Quarter: Good to have football back, huh?! That zipped by. Patriots utilized their run game a lot and controlled the ball for 9:11 of the quarter. They’re driving with a chance to get into the red zone after Cam Newton hit Ryan Izzo for a 25-yard catch-and-run. Only one negative play so far on this drive.
— Q1, 4:23: Chase Winovich dropped Jordan Howard three yards behind the line to stall the Dolphins’ second drive. Great play by the sophomore edge rusher to time the snap and burst into the backfield. Cam Newton gets another chance to score first.
— Q1, 8:20: The defense gets off to a good start with an early stop, but a muffed punt recovered by the Patriots pinned them back. Cam Newton and the new-look Patriots offense mixed up the blocking personnel with some successful run plays, but the drive stalls out after Julian Edelman drops what should have been an easy catch then Cam Newton hits James White short of the sticks.
— It appeared that everyone on the Patriots stood together for the national anthem. The Dolphins took the field shortly after the conclusion of the anthem. Just about time for kickoff in Foxboro.
— Bill Belichick honors Fritz Pollard, the NFL’s first black head coach, on his visor.
— Patriots players and staff all stood alongside each other in the end zone as a video package played, featuring the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Robert and Jonathan Kraft were down there, as well. The Dolphins stayed in the locker room and will also stay inside for the Star-Spangled Banner, as the team previously announced.
— Based on pregame warmups, it appears that the Patriots will start the game with Ja’Whaun Bentley and Brandon Copeland at inside linebacker with Chase Winovich and John Simon playing outside linebacker. Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips look to be the starting safeties.
— The outfit Cam Newton wore upon arrival at Gillette Stadium:
— Albert Breer of The MMQB said this morning on NBC Sports Boston that the Patriots explored a possible Stephon Gilmore trade earlier in the offseason. “I’m told that on least two separate occasions, the Patriots floated his name in trade talks, both before the (NFL) Draft and during training camp,” Breer said. He later tweeted that opt-outs changed the situation and gave the Pats more cap space. Instead of trading Gilmore, they used their extra space to give him a raise.
— The Patriots have released their inactive players for today. Among the notable names are quarterback Jarrett Stidham and rookie linebacker Josh Uche, whom the team selected in the second round of the 2020 draft.
— Among the Patriots who took the field early for pregame warmups with strength & conditioning coach Moses Cabrera: David Andrews, Lawrence Guy, Stephon Gilmore, Deatrich Wise, Joejuan Williamns, Sony Michel, Devin & Jason McCourty, Nick Folk, Chase Winovich, Hjalte Froholdt, Jakob Johnson, James White, Devin Asiasi, Matthew Slater.
— Cam Newton did some pregame tosses with wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and rookie tight end Devin Asiasi.
— In a familiar sight, Julian Edelman took the field for pre-pregame warmups for the first time this season. In a not-so-familiar sight, N’Keal Harry joined him.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at email@example.com.