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Dolphins make season debut against Patriots as college teammates Tagovailoa, Jones ready for first NFL clash



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Mac Jones spent most of his college career at Alabama watching from the sideline — first behind Jalen Hurts and then backing up Tua Tagovailoa.

Hurts was first to join the Crimson Tide program in 2016, followed by Jones and Tagovailoa in 2017. By the time they finished their respective runs in Tuscaloosa, each had been the starter on a national championship team.

For Hurts and Tagovailoa, it was the expected outcome for two highly touted recruits coming out of high school.

For Jones, who had to beat out freshman Bryce Young for the starting job last season on his way to becoming the school’s all-time single-season passing leader and leading Alabama to an undefeated record, it was another example of him exceeding outsiders’ expectations.

Now as Jones and Tagovailoa prepare to matchup for the first time as NFL starters on Sunday, it has cast a new spotlight on the former teammates in their new roles as key pieces of franchises hoping to dethrone the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.

“Looking back on it, it was pretty cool. We were all pretty close. We were there to help each other,” Jones said. “I guess that’s all in the past and we’re all doing our own thing now.”

In Jones’ case, that included beating 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton for the Patriots’ starting job. Bill Belichick’s decision to cut Newton at the end of training camp came as a shock to many around the league.

Jones’ teammates said he enters his first start having won the respect of New England’s locker room with poise and confidence rarely displayed by a rookie.

“I tell him he’s not a rookie. This is his offense and to lead it as such,” Patriots offensive lineman Trent Brown said. “We go as he goes.”

Tagovailoa said Jones’ fast ascension lines up with the potential he saw him display in college.

“Mac is fiercely competitive,” Tagovailoa said. “Mac is a ‘put my head down, I’m going to work and I’m going to do whatever I can, no matter who is on the other side, I’m going to do whatever I can to beat you guys.'”

Both will lead revamped rosters.

The Patriots added two of the top tight ends on the free agent market in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, along with receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Miami returns tight end Mike Gesicki and added playmakers at receiver, including Tagovailoa’s former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle.

Belichick said it has made Tagovailoa, the first rookie quarterback to win against him since 2013, more formidable.

“Tua is no rookie,” Belichick said. “He’s got a year of experience. We’ve seen him. We played against him, so we’ll deal with him.”


Jones will become the first Patriots rookie quarterback to start the season opener since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. Under Belichick, quarterbacks are 6-0 in their first career starts. Of those, Eric Zeier (Cleveland in 1995) and Jacoby Brissett (2016) made their first career starts during their rookie seasons.


Brian Flores’ path to becoming a head coach has direct ties to New England, where he spent 15 years and won three Super Bowl rings.

As he prepares for his third season in Miami, he has put most of the nostalgia behind him.

“I’m a Miami Dolphin. That’s where I’m at,” Flores said. “When we go up there, we’re going up there to play a tough competitive team and we’re going to compete as well. It’s a road game in a tough environment against a good team that’s well coached. We’ve got to prepare the right way to have some success. No, there is no nostalgia or anything like that.”


Twins Devin and Jason McCourty lived out a childhood dream when they became teammates in New England in 2018, ending that season celebrating a Super Bowl win.

The run ended this past offseason when Jason left in free agency to join the Dolphins and Flores. Like his new coach, Jason said this week hasn’t featured much reminiscing.

“I would be more excited if I could see his kids, but I won’t get a chance to see his kids. Him, eh, he’s all right,” Jason said with a laugh.

Jokes aside, Devin said even as opponents they will continue to savor being on the field together.

“We’ve had a lot of fun playing together the last three years,” he said. “But taking the field together as opponents, any time just being together living out this dream, we know it’s dwindling down. So, I think Sunday’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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Miami Dolphins fans ranked least rowdy fan base in the NFL



MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.  As more and more fans pack NFL stadiums across the country thanks to lessened COVID-19 restrictions, America seems to be embracing the return of parking lot tailgates, and, yes, “rowdy fans.”

However, it seems a South Florida team’s fanbase is lacking in that department.

According to a new survey by Bookies, Miami Dolphins fans rank as the least rowdy fan base in football.

Read more from ABC Miami.

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Miami Dolphins lose fifth straight game, 23-20, to drop to 1-5; Jacksonville Jaguars end 20-game skid with 53-yard FG for London win



LONDON, U.K. — The Jacksonville Jaguars ended their 20-game losing streak when Matthew Wright kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired in a 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in London.

Trevor Lawrence connected on a short slant pass to Laviska Shenault Jr. and the Jags (1-5) called timeout with 1 second remaining after the Dolphins (1-5) gambled on a fourth-and-1 from their 46 and came up short.

Lawrence threw for 319 yards and a touchdown as he and coach Urban Meyer finally earned their first NFL victories — even if it required a trip to Europe to get it done in a “home” game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Dolphins lost their fifth consecutive game, spoiling the return of Tua Tagovailoa, who made his first start in a month. The second-year quarterback threw two touchdown passes to Jaylen Waddle.

Wright had tied the game at 20 on a 54-yard field goal with 3:40 remaining.

The Dolphins took a 20-17 lead when Tagovailoa finished a seven-play, 91-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Waddle with 10:22 left in the game. Waddle caught the ball and stuck it over the goal line as cornerback Nevin Lawson tackled him.

Jacksonville grabbed a 17-13 lead early in the third quarter on James Robinson’s 1-yard run after he rumbled 24 yards on the previous play. The drive included a 29-yard reception by Jamal Agnew and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Miami safety Jevon Holland.

Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense started hot, scoring on their first drive, but squandering two other chances from inside the Jacksonville 10, settling for field goals both times.

On the opening drive, Tagovailoa completed eight of 10 passes and finished a 75-yard opening drive with a 6-yard slant to Jaylen Waddle to put Miami ahead 7-0. They converted three third downs including a 20-yard reception by tight end Mike Gesicki and Tagovailoa’s 7-yard scramble to the 6, setting up Waddle’s touchdown.

The Jaguars answered with big plays of their own, when Lawrence connected with Agnew for a 24-yard gain on their first play from scrimmage. The drive stalled, though, when Dan Arnold dropped a third-down pass at the 16-yard line. The Jags settled for a 40-yard field goal from Matthew Wright — their first field goal of the season — to make it 7-3.

After field goals of 33 and 24 yards by Jason Sanders, the Jaguars forced a three-and-out and got the ball back on the Miami 49 with 1:45 left in half, down 13-3.

Lawrence then finally exploited Miami’s depleted secondary, launching a perfect pass to Marvin Jones Jr. in the end zone for a 28-yard TD pass with backup cornerback Noah Igbinoghene in coverage to make the score 13-10 with 40 seconds left in the half.

Miami played without starting cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, who were both out injured.


Before Sunday, the Jags hadn’t won a game since beating Indianapolis 27-20 in the 2020 season opener, when Gardner Minshew threw three TD passes. The 20-game losing streak is the second-longest in the Super Bowl era.

Jacksonville’s win also snapped the London hex on rookie quarterbacks, who had been 0-5 since the NFL started staging regular-season games in England’s capital in 2007.

Now, it’s the Dolphins racking up losses. They haven’t won since beating New England in the season opener, back when Miami was considered a possible playoff team after a 10-6 season in 2020.

Miami is the only one of the four teams that played in London to not get a bye the following week.


Sunday’s game featured a rematch of quarterbacks from the College Football Playoff national championship game from the 2018 season. Lawrence and Clemson beat Tagovailoa and Alabama 44-16.


Dolphins: host Atlanta on Oct. 24.

Jaguars: bye week, then at the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Oct. 31.

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Miami Hurricanes nearly pull off comeback, fall short to Sam Howell’s 4 TDs and North Carolina, 45-42



CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Sam Howell threw two touchdowns and ran for two more as North Carolina held off Miami, 45-42, sending the Hurricanes to their worst record at the midway mark of a season in more than two decades.

Miami was in position to tie or win when reaching the North Carolina 16-yard line in the final minute, but linebacker Cedric Gray intercepted a tipped pass with 6 seconds left.

Ty Chandler ran for two touchdowns for the Tar Heels (4-3 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) in a matchup of two teams that began the season in the Top 15, but are trying to gain traction midway through the season.

The Hurricanes (2-4, 0-2) are 2-4 for the first time since 1997 when they were on NCAA probation and stuck with scholarship limitations.

Howell was 17 for 26 for 154 yards in the air with an interception while running for 98 yards on 17 carries. Chandler gained 104 yards on the ground on 18 attempts.

Howell’s touchdown runs covered 30 and 11 yards, both times pinballing off Miami defenders.

Miami nearly erased an 18-point deficit, pulling within 38-34 before stalling in North Carolina territory early in the fourth quarter. Then the Tar Heels drove 58 yards for a touchdown, aided by 30 yards on Miami penalties.

Freshman Jaylan Knight ran for two Miami touchdowns, including a 4-yard run to cap a 97-yard drive with 3:08 remaining that was followed by a successful two-point conversion pass play.

The Hurricanes, after using all their timeouts, regained possession at the 2:46 mark and picked up 56 yards before the interception.

Miami used Tyler Van Dyke, who made his third career starter and first away from home, at quarterback just days after it was announced that D’Eriq King would be lost to season-ending shoulder surgery.

Van Dyke, who was 5 for 15 and picked off twice in the first half, finished 20 for 45 with 264 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.

Miami’s first points came on Jahfari Harvey’s 33-yard return with a first-quarter interception.


Miami: The Hurricanes don’t seem equipped to overcome much adversity and they encountered more of it in their first true road game of the season. Miami lost team rushing and scoring leader Cam’Ron Harris to a lower-body injury on the first drive of the second half.

North Carolina: Receiver Josh Downs has scored on a touchdown reception in every game this season, including the team’s first TD on a 45-yard play Saturday. He has an eight game TD streak dating to last season. He made 10 of his 11 receptions in the first half, ending up with 96 yards.


Miami is home against No. 22 North Carolina State on Saturday.

North Carolina has a bye week before traveling to Notre Dame on Oct. 30.

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