Cam Newton Shines as Patriots Beat Dolphins in 1st Game Without Tom Brady

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2020

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton shouts as he warms up before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne/Associated Press

It's a new era for the New England Patriots, but it seems the winning ways will continue for this organization.

Cam Newton replaced Tom Brady as the starting quarterback and took care of business with two rushing touchdowns while leading the Patriots to a 21-11 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 1.

While there were no fans at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, New England still protected its home field while playing well on both sides of the ball. The run-heavy approach also led to 217 rushing yards with an average of 5.2 per carry.  

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 191 yards for Miami, but it wasn't enough to keep his team competitive in the first game of the year. 

     

Notable Performances

Cam Newton, QB, NE: 15-of-19, 155 passing yards, 75 rushing yards, two rushing TDs

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Sony Michel, RB, NE: 10 carries, 37 rushing yards, one TD

Julian Edelman, WR, NE: five catches, 57 receiving yards, 23 rushing yards

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, MIA: 20-of-30, 191 passing yards, three INTs

Myles Gaskin, RB, MIA: nine carries, 40 rushing yards

DeVante Parker, WR, MIA: four catches, 47 receiving yards

     

Cam Newton Provides New Dimension to Patriots Offense

Brady didn't have more than 64 rushing yards in any of the last eight seasons. Newton finished with 75 rushing yards in his first game in New England.

The 31-year-old looked like his old self at times running the ball, including with his two rushing touchdowns:

Consistency was a bit of an issue, but the first two scores came on extended drives of at least 75 yards.

Even when he wasn't scoring, he was extending plays with his legs and picking up key yards while impressing those watching along:

After a slow start, Newton developed solid chemistry with Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry as bright points in the passing game. The rushing attack also helped with Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, J.J. Taylor and James White all contributing to more than 200 yards on the ground.

Newton could still use more help down the field, and producing more sustained drives will also be necessary against better opponents.

Still, it was a quality Patriots debut from the former MVP.

     

Ryan Fitzpatrick Turnovers Kill Offense

Fitzpatrick helped the Dolphins stay competitive last season and easily won the job over rookie Tua Tagovailoa, but he couldn't do much against the Patriots in Week 1.

The veteran quarterback killed drives with his errant throws, leading to three interceptions:

The last hope at a comeback ended with an interception in the end zone to seal the win for New England.

The Patriots lost several key players from last season, including Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy to free agency and Dont'a Hightower and Patrick Chung due to coronavirus-related opt-outs. However, this unit still played like one of the best in the NFL in Week 1.

The Dolphins did have some positive moments, including a touchdown run by Jordan Howard:

Myles Gaskin played well out of the backfield, while Jerome Baker was a star defensively with 17 tackles, a key strip at the goal line and a sack:

These provide some hope for the future, but they were not enough to earn a win Sunday.

     

What's Next?

The Patriots will be on prime time next week for a Sunday night game at the Seattle Seahawks. The Dolphins will stay within the AFC East for Week 2 for a home game against the Buffalo Bills.