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Sep 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) tumbles over Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mack Hollins (86) during a play in the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

As is the case with any rebuilt team feature new – and in some cases young players, there were just too many times that the Patriots couldn’t get out of their own way. ‘Growing pains’ has been a popular term among those discussing the 2021 Patriots, and those pains were on full display on Sunday in the team’s 17-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

By most major metrics, the Patriots were the better team on Sunday. They out-gained Miami 393-259 on offense, and were 11-of-16 on third down, compered to the Dolphins’ 4-of-11 success rate. Yet they were done in by self-inflicted errors. They fumbled the ball four times – turning it over twice – and committed eight penalties for 84 yards. Even when they were able to sustain drives they rarely finished, scoring just one touchdown in four red zone trips.

A first-quarter fumble by rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson gave the Dolphins momentum early. Stevenson played just one snap after than, on a play following a Damien Harris injury.

Harris, of course, had his own issue with ball security. Despite carrying the offense for most of the afternoon with 100 yards on 25 carries, he put the ball on the ground as the Patriots were driving for a go-ahead score late in the game.

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Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.