FOXBORO (CBS) — Damien Harris was not a happy camper after his late fumble cost the Patriots a shot at a Week 1 win over the Miami Dolphins. But he isn’t going to let the mistake define him, either.
Harris capped off an overall frustrating afternoon for the Patriots on Sunday by coughing up the football at the Miami 9-yard line with 3:31 to play. Xavien Howard forced the fumble and recovered the ball to ultimately seal a 17-16 win for the Dolphins.READ MORE: Want To Know Everything About The Long Snapper Position? Let Bill Belichick Regale You With Some History
Harris entered his third NFL season as New England’s lead running back, and he ran over the Miami defense for much of the day on Sunday. He finished 100 yards on his 23 carries and 17 more yards on a pair of catches.
But that fumble is going to be on everyone’s minds when they see New England’s 0-1 record this week. After the game, Harris shouldered the blame for his costly mistake.
“It was a tough play. Obviously, I have to do a better job holding onto the ball in a critical situation like that,” said Harris, who had been carrying a football during his down time last week to work on his ball security leading up to Sunday’s Week 1 clash. “But it’s a long season and I’m not going to let this one mistake define me. I’m ready to move forward.”
Veteran running back James White said he spoke with Harris after the game to let him know the loss wasn’t squarely on him.
“Obviously, one play isn’t the reason why we lost the football game. There were many plays that we left out there and that’s what I told him,” said White. “He played a very good football game aside from that and he’s a great player. He has a lot of talent. He’s going to keep competing. I told him it’s a long season to go and we’re going to need him, so he’s got to keep his head up.”READ MORE: The List Of Six Rookie Quarterbacks Who Have Beaten Bill Belichick's Patriots Is Insane
“Damien’s obviously very disappointed, but it doesn’t go all on Damien,” rookie quarterback Mac Jones said after the loss. “There’s a lot of things I could have done to be better, to not even be in that situation, take some bigger chunk plays. He played his heart out. It is what it is.
“He’s going to be better from it,” added Jones. “He’s a great dude and he’s going to work hard, and that’s what he does. And that’s what we’re all going to do.”
Harris’ fumble was the fourth overall by the Patriots on Sunday, and the second that the team let Miami recover. Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson also gave the football back to the Dolphins in the first half, which will no doubt land him in Bill Belichick’s dog house for the foreseeable future. Mix those turnovers with eight penalties, and the Patriots did not put themselves in the best position to win.
But they were in a position to win, thanks in large part to Harris’ contributions in the first 56 minutes. Unfortunately for him, that final touch is the one that led to the final outcome.
“At the end of the day, we lost the game and that is what is most important to me and what is most important to this team. We just have to be better,” said Harris. “There were tough situations that came up and the fumble was the toughest to overcome. But that’s part of the game.
“I’m not going to let this mistake define me. It’s time to move forward,” he added. “We have another challenge this upcoming week so it’s time to focus on that.”MORE NEWS: Trent Brown Returns To Practice, But Kyle Van Noy Absent Again Friday
That next challenge for Harris and the Patriots will come against the 0-1 New York Jets in the Meadowlands next Sunday. The Jets allowed 111 rushing yards in their loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 1.