The New England Patriots should've started the 2021 NFL season with a win, but they threw it away with costly turnovers and dumb penalties.
An abundance of avoidable mistakes, particularly on offense, prevented the Pats from beating the rival Dolphins on Sunday afternoon as Miami left Gillette Stadium with a 17-16 victory.
Here are a few immediate takeaways from what we saw Sunday afternoon.
1. Mac Jones was excellent
You couldn't have asked for much more from Jones in his regular season debut. The 2021 first-round draft pick was very accurate, completing 29 of 39 pass attempts for 281 yards with one touchdown and zero turnovers. He completed passes to eight different players.
Jones' only touchdown pass came late in the second quarter and gave New England a brief 10-7 lead.
Jones' accuracy was impressive throughout the game, especially on this excellent third-down throw to running back James White.
The Dolphins blitzed Jones quite a few times, but he handled it well. He completed 14 of 19 pass attempts with a touchdown when under pressure. He didn't get enough credit at Alabama for his ability to stand in the pocket, deliver an accurate pass and take a huge hit in the process.
Overall, Jones was accurate and didn't make many mistakes. Even though the Patriots lost, they should feel really encouraged by their rookie quarterback's performance in Week 1.
2. Penalties, fumbles were huge problem
Penalties made the Patriots' job so much harder than it needed to be Sunday. They committed eight penalties for 84 yards, three of which were totally avoidable personal foul calls.
The Patriots' offensive line was flagged three times for 35 yards. Those penalties wiped out gains of 14, 33 and 17 yards.
Penalties were a problem in the preseason and it's carried over into the regular season.
New England was the least penalized team in 2020, finishing with just 62 in 16 games. That was 12 fewer than the next least-penalized team (Miami with 74).
The Patriots also fumbled the ball three times (lost two of them), including one by running back Damien Harris late in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the win for the Dolphins.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will have plenty of mistakes to showcase in film review this week thanks to all of these penalties and turnovers.
3. Pats defense stepped up despite loss
The Patriots defense only gave up 17 points. If that's a preview of what's to come over the next few months, New England is going to win a lot of games.
After giving up a touchdown on the Dolphins' first drive, the Patriots defense settled in and made life difficult for Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins' quarterback didn't play too well, completing 16 of 27 passes for just 202 yards with one touchdown and a fourth-quarter interception that could've cost Miami the lead.
The Patriots allowed only six points in the second half. Overall, the defense surrendered just 259 total yards, tallied two sacks and held Miami to 3.2 yards per rush.
4. Jaylen Waddle looks like the real deal
Jaylen Waddle was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and in Week 1 he showed why his talent and potential are off the charts.
He tallied four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown on six targets in his regular season debut.
Waddle hauled in a 36-yard reception on Miami's final drive before halftime. He made a great catch and moved the Dolphins into Patriots' territory, where they ended up settling for a game-tying field goal.
The rookie wideout got into the end zone on the Dolphins' first drive of the second half when he caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa.
Five wide receivers were selected in the first round of the 2021 draft. Waddle has the best chance to be this year's Justin Jefferson, and he's off to a great start after Sunday's performance.