The Miami Dolphins have had little trouble beating lesser opponents but haven’t defeated a team that currently possesses a winning record.
Miami (5-2) will look to continue its success against the dregs of the NFL when it battles the AFC East-rival New England Patriots Sunday at Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Dolphins’ five wins this season have come against squads with a combined 8-25 record and a lowly .242 winning percentage. The Patriots (2-5) are one of those foes, as Miami notched a 24-17 road win in Week 2.
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa passed for 249 yards, and Raheem Mostert rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns in that encounter.
While Patriots coach Bill Belichick may have recorded his 300th career regular-season victory in last week’s 29-25 win over the Buffalo Bills, Tagovailoa is 5-0 when starting against the legendary Belichick.
“It’s a team win every time, that’s basically what it is,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday. “Nothing to do with myself, the defense also has to get stops. It’s a team win for everything and a team loss for everything. High regards for coach (Belichick).”
Belichick may need to post win No. 301 on Sunday to keep the last-place Patriots in the AFC East race.
New England is three games behind Miami, which leads the division by one game over Buffalo and 1 1/2 games over the New York Jets.
The Patriots stunned the Bills last Sunday when Mac Jones tossed a 1-yard scoring pass to Mike Gesecki with 12 seconds left.
New England has scored 46 points over the past two games after tallying just 55 over their first five.
Jones passed for 272 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo.
“Really just want to build off the momentum and continue to do it, do it over and over again,” said Jones, who was sharply criticized for his performance in recent weeks. “Stick to the process, have expectations for yourself and don’t pay attention to the other expectations.”
Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien cautioned that Jones is still in development mode.
“He’s only a third-year player,” O’Brien said. “You aren’t talking about a guy that’s been around for 12 years. Every game is a learning situation for him. Certainly, he has a lot of experience relative to his rookie year and last year, but he’s still a young player.”
New England ranks 31st in scoring offense (14.4 points per game) and 25th in total offense (294.3 yards per game), while the Dolphins lead the NFL in both categories — 34.3 points and 462.3 yards per game.
Tagovailoa has been solid with a league-best 2,092 yards and is tied for second with 15 touchdown passes. Receiver Tyreek Hill leads the league in receiving yardage (902 yards) and touchdown receptions (seven) and ranks third in catches (53).
However, Hill missed Wednesday’s practice with a hip injury, and Tagovailoa sounded very concerned.
“No one can emulate what Tyreek does on the field,” Tagovailoa said. “If we couldn’t have Tyreek, that would be tough. But the show goes on. We’ve got to continue to play. Somewhere down the line we’re going to get Tyreek back.”
Hill injured the hip during Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The availability of Mostert (fifth in the NFL with 474 rushing yards) also is uncertain due to an ankle injury that caused him to miss practice Wednesday.
Other Miami players who missed practice Wednesday were safety Jevon Holland (concussion) and fullback Alec Ingold (foot).
Defensive end Keion White (concussion) sat out for New England. Among the Patriots who were limited were defensive tackle Christian Barmore and tight end Hunter Henry (ankle).
New England has lost five of its last six matchups with Miami. The victory came on Jan. 1 last season when Tagovailoa was sidelined with a concussion.