(Photo credit: Jim Rassol / USA TODAY NETWORK)
A prolific performance on offense in their season opener propels the Miami Dolphins into a visit to the New England Patriots on Sunday night in Foxborough, Mass.
Miami (1-0) captured the league's attention with 536 total yards in a 36-34 road win against the Los Angeles Chargers. They could become the fourth team in NFL history to put up 500-plus yards in their first two games of the season.
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa passed for 466 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener, and he promptly was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. He completed 11 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns to wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Miami head coach Mike McDaniel offered another key statistic: Zero.
That's how many yards and points the Dolphins can bring with them from Week 1.
"Literally, zero," McDaniel deadpanned. "I checked with the league. We can't take the points from last game and put them in the points of this game.
"So it was a really, really cool little thing that you'll look back on. And that night, as a team, it felt nice to see some of those rewards. But the goal this offseason, the goal for these guys' lives wasn't like, 'Man, I'm going to have a good game.' So you have to keep that in perspective.
"But I'm excited to see what they do with that moving forward."
It will not be easy against New England (0-1), which is coming off a hard-fought, 25-20 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. The Patriots trailed 16-0 after the first quarter but rallied to give themselves a chance for a late victory.
Mac Jones completed 35 of 54 passes for 316 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for the Patriots. Kendrick Bourne caught two touchdown passes and Hunter Henry hauled in one.
"We've already talked about what we can do better, and just going out there and trying to do it is a challenge," Jones said. "But that's the fun part about the game. You get a chance to learn from your mistakes and then go out there, and it's going to come up again."
Jones and his teammates on the Patriots spent this week preparing for a Dolphins defense that now is led by veteran coordinator Vic Fangio. His defensive style relies heavily on zone schemes rather than man-to-man coverages.
"I have a ton of respect for Vic as a coach and what he's done," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said.
The Dolphins' offense will match up against a New England defense that produced three sacks, three tackles for loss, four pass break-ups, four quarterback hits and a fumble recovery in Week 1.
Ja'Whuan Bentley led the team with nine tackles, while rookie Christian Gonzalez had seven tackles to go along with a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass break-up.
McDaniel, who is hopeful left tackle Terron Armstead returns after missing Week 1, praised the Patriots' defense and Belichick, its longtime architect.
"It's amazing that the orchestration of the defense is so consistent, so fundamentally consistent and sound," McDaniel said. "Very, very detailed. And the leader of the ship was at the same job when we were all like, 'What's an iPod?'
"The coolest part about what they do is it's not because they're entitled. It's because they work at stuff. You can really see it."
Miami has won four of the past five meetings with the Patriots. The Dolphins lead the all-time series, 59-53.
--Field Level Media