Ja’Wuan James learned much from his training camp battles with Cam Wake.
On Sunday, he was just happy Wake was schooling someone else.
“He made me feel a little bit better about myself,” James said with a chuckle.
“I’ll say that. During practice and all throughout camp, I was like, ‘Am I the only one getting beat like that?’ He made me feel a little bit better about myself. It was fun going out there and playing ball.”
While Wake terrorized the Patriots with two strip-sacks Sunday, James kept a clean sheet. He kept Ryan Tannehill upright in four impressive quarters, a strong debut for the Dolphins’ first-round pick.
As an offensive line, Sunday’s win silenced many of its doubters — at least for now. New England had 10 sacks in two games against Miami last year; on Sunday, the Patriots managed just one. Furthermore, the Dolphins churned out 191 yards on the ground, averaging 5 yards a carry.
“I think that we all just worked together today,” said new left tackle Branden Albert. “All the running backs, they ran the ball hard. I still feel like we got Ryan hit a little bit too much. He did good a job staying in the pocket. We ended up winning the game.”
The Dolphins’ special teams, shaky in the preseason, was a rock Sunday.
Rookie Chris McCain set the tone in the opening minutes, blocking Ryan Allen’s punt and setting up the Dolphins’ first touchdown.
Meanwhile, Caleb Sturgis’ injured groin looks just fine. He nailed all four of his field goal attempts and had touchbacks on five of his eight kickoffs. Brandon Fields punted just twice, but averaged 50 yards per kick.
And Jarvis Landry handled return duties without a major miscue. He did get popped on one return, but hung onto the football.
This and that• Sunday’s game was the third sporting event held at Sun Life Stadium in 40 hours, but the playing surface held up well. Nearly 200,000 people combined to attend the Brazil-Colombia friendly on Friday, the University of Miami-FAMU football game Saturday, and Dolphins-Patriots on Sunday.
• The Dolphins now have won consecutive games against the Patriots for the first time since 2000. Miami improved to 34-14-1 in home openers.
• The thermometer read 89 degrees at kickoff Sunday, making it the fifth-warmest home opener in team history. The Dolphins are now 10-2 in games where the temperature is 89 degrees or warmer.
• Lamar Miller’s 4-yard touchdown catch on the Dolphins’ opening drive was the first scoring reception of his career.
• Dolphins inactives: C Mike Pouncey, LB Philip Wheeler, LB Jordan Tripp, DT Bruce Gaston, T Jason Fox, G Billy Turner, DE Terrence Fede.
• Wake, Tannehill and Jason Trusnik served as the player captains Sunday, while Dan Marino and Jason Taylor were the alumni captains.