Tagovailoa’s 42-yard TD to Waddle extends Miami’s lead over Pats

MIAMI — With so much attention on Miami Dolphins All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill, some might have forgotten about Jaylen Waddle.

The second-year receiver gave fans a reminder of what he can do to close the first half Sunday, reeling in a 42-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Tua Tagovailoa to put the Dolphins up 17-0 over the New England Patriots.

Waddle was quiet for most of the first half, recording just one catch for 8 yards on his lone target, but Tagovailoa found his former college teammate between three Patriots defenders for his second career passing touchdown of 40 or more yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

It was an impressive throw from Tagovailoa; Waddle had 0.8 yards of separation from Jalen Mills when the pass was thrown. Waddle did the rest from there, reaching a top speed of 20.8 miles per hour on the play, according to Next Gen Stats.

Before the score, Miami’s offense largely centered around Hill, who finished the half with 77 yards and six catches on eight targets.

The Dolphins’ defense also figured into the scoring. Safety Brandon Jones recorded more quarterback pressures than any other defensive back in the NFL in 2021, and he picked up where he left on Sunday.

Jones strip-sacked New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones midway through the second quarter, deep in the Patriots’ territory. Linebacker Melvin Ingram corralled the loose ball and returned it two yards for the Dolphins’ first touchdown of the 2022 season.

Mac Jones turned the ball over twice in the first half as Miami built a 10-0 lead. He also threw an interception to Jevon Holland on the Patriots’ first drive of the game.

Brandon Jones, the third-year safety out of Texas, showed blitz late pre-snap and came around the edge completely unblocked. He led all defensive backs last season with 5 sacks and 13 pressures on 89 pass rushes.

The Dolphins have five defensive touchdowns since the start of last season, tied with the Eagles for second-most behind the Cowboys, who have six.

Perhaps in a reflection of their overall pass-protection struggles on the prior drive, the Patriots subbed out first-round pick Cole Strange at left guard on the drive that resulted in the strip-sack, inserting veteran James Ferentz in his place.

Contributing: ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss

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