Ryan L. Fox
In Week 1 of the NFL season, the New England Patriots opened up with a home match-up against their divisional rival Miami Dolphins. It was also the debut of Patriots QB Cam Newton as he and the team ran all over the Dolphins 21-11.
Now fast forward to Week 15, the two teams met again for another showdown in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Dolphins were looking to punch their ticket into the postseason for the first time since 2016 with a win while the Patriots were trying to keep their postseason aspirations alive.
After 60 minutes under the Miami sun, any postseason aspirations that the team had were shredded and destroyed.
The game opened up with a scoreless 1st quarter from both teams. The closest that either team had a chance of scoring came from the Dolphins. Starting from their own 2, they got all the way down to the New England 3. But on 3rd and goal, QB Tua Tagovailoa’s pass to WR Lynn Bowden Jr. was picked off by Patriots CB J.C. Jackson in the endzone and brought back to the New England 4 to close out the quarter.
When the 2nd quarter began, the Patriots offense was on the move.
QB Cam Newton orchestrated the hurry up Pats offense down the field, running on 8 plays during the drive. But the Miami defense was able to hunker down at their own 27, including staying disciplined to Newton’s attempts to draw them offsides on 4th down. The Patriots winded up settling for a 41-yard field goal by K Nick Folk to take the early 3-0 with 8:50 left in the 2nd quarter.
Following another Dolphins punt, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 40. Newton once again led the offense down the field. They were able to get big chunk plays 2 plass plays (21-yard dump pass from Newton to RB James White on 3rd and 6 at the New England 44 and a 12-yard pass from Newton to WR N’Keal Harry at the Miami 35). The Patriots got to the Miami 21 where on 3rd and 8, Newton scrambled right side. The ball was knocked out of his hands by Dolphins CB Byron Jones and picked up by teammate CB Xavier Howard, who proceeded to run down the field for what appeared to be an 86-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
But upon further review, before Howard could recover the loose ball, it bumped into teammate DT Christian Wilkins. Wilkins’ foot was on the sideline when the ball bumped him, therefore the ball was ruled dead at the spot of touching. The touchdown was taken off the board and the Patriots got the ball back at the Miami 18.
After getting the ball back, the Patriots ended up settling for a 36-yard field goal by Folk to make it 6-0 with a little over 4 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.
The Dolphins tried to get on the scoreboard before the end of the first half but K Jason Sander’s kick curved wide left to end the quarter. Both teams went into halftime with the score being 6-0 in favor of the visiting Patriots.
When the 2nd half began, the Dolphins got the ball back as they began their first drive of the 3rd quarter on their own 28. Tua was able to lead the offense down the field with ease, only facing just one 3rd down on the drive (a 3rd and 1 from the New England 6 they were able to convert easily). They got down to the New England 1 where on 1st and goal from there, RB Salvon Ahmed bowled his way over the goalline for the score. Sanders booted the PAT through as the Dolphins took their first lead of the game 7-6 with 10:32 left in the 3rd quarter.
On the Patriots first possession of the 2nd half, they started off with a 4-yard run by RB Sony Michel on 1st and 10 from the New England 25. Then on the next play, Newton found WR Jakobi Meyers over the middle for a 20-yard pass. But Howard ended up punching the ball out and it was recovered by teammate and former Patriots LB Elandon Roberts at the New England 47.
The Dolphins drive ended up stalling and were forced to punt. But on 4th and 7 from the New England 44, the Dolphins ran a trick play as P Matt Hauck found ST/LB Kamu Grugier-Hill for what appeared to be a 14-yard pass to the New England 30. But the play was nullified due to an ineligible touch pass penalty on Grugier-Hill because he didn’t report as an eligible prior to the play. The Dolphins ultimately were forced to punt the ball away, giving the Patriots the ball back at their own 8.
The Patriots drive ultimately led to a field goal try in Miami territory as Folk booted his 3rd field goal of the game (this time from 45-yards) to help the Patriots regain the lead 9-7 with 4:20 left in the quarter.
The Dolphins ended up getting the ball back, starting at their own 10. After a couple of plays to get out from the shadow of the endzone, the Dolphins got a huge chunk play by Ahmed as he ran right side for 31-yards before being forced out at the New England 47. The Dolphins kept driving down the field, reaching the New England 19 before time ran out in the 3rd quarter.
When the 4th quarter began, the Dolphins had the ball at the New England 19. The quarter actually opened up with a ‘Too Many Men on the Field’ against the Patriots moving the ball to the New England 12. The Dolphins offense got all the way down to the New England 3 where on 3rd and goal, Tua avoided the Patriots pass rush and scrambled up the middle for the touchdown. The Dolphins decided to attempt the two-point conversion as Tua found Ahmed on a hook-and-ladder play for the score to make it 15-9 with 12:55 left in the 4th quarter.
The Patriots were able to respond to the Dolphins’ touchdown with a 42-yard field goal by Folk, his 4th of the day, to make it 15-12 with 9:03 left in the quarter.
After getting the ball back on their own 25, the Dolphins offense went to work. Like on their previous possession, the Dolphins relied heavily on the ground game. They were able to grind the Patriots defense down, getting all the way down to the New England 1. On 1st and goal from the 1, Ahmed took the handoff and seemingly bowled his way over for the score. But on the official scoring review, Ahmed's knee was down before the ball broke the plane. That made it 2nd and goal on the half-yard line. From there, Tua bulled his way behind the center and over the goalline for the score. Sanders booted the PAT through the uprights as the Dolphins lead grew to 22-12 with the 3:17
Down by two scores and with time running down, the Patriots decided to go to the air. On the first play of the drive, Newton found Meyers deep right side to the Miami 49 for a 26 yard pass play. He then followed that up with two pass plays to RB James White for a total of 19 yards down, getting down to the Miami 30. But then Newton was sacked for a 7-yard loss on the following play before the 2-minute warning, putting the Patriots in some trouble.
After the 2-minute warning, Newton found TE Dalton Keene and then White on back-to-back pass plays down to the Miami 23. Facing a 4th and 3 from there and with the clock ticking down, Patriots ended up going for it rather than settle for the field goal. This ultimately proved costly as Newton ended up getting sacked back at the Miami 32, forcing the Patriots to turn the ball over on downs.
Miami got the ball back at their own 32 with 1:08 remaining in the game. They simply ran the ball twice to run the clock out as the Patriots simply allowed time to expire.
When the clock read 00:00, any sort of playoff hopes that the Patriots had going into the game had all evaporated. The streak of 11-years of making into the playoffs was snapped.
Now the only thing the Patriots can do is try to finish the season with a .500 record at 8-8 and go into the offseason watching the playoffs from home rather that participating like they used to.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Cam Newton – 17-for-27 for 209 yards for a QB Rating of 86.8; 9 carries for 38 yards (4.2 yards per carry)
RB Sony Michel - 10 carries for 74 yards (7.4 yards per carry); 1 catch (on 1 target) for 8 yards
WR Jakobi Meyers- 7 catches (on 10 targets) for 111 yards and 1 fumble loss
K Nick Folk - 4-for-4 on field goals for 12 points
LB Terez Hall – 13 tackles (12 solo, 1 assist)
CB J.C. Jackson - 4 tackles (solo, 1 assist), 1 interception, 1 pass defended
S Adrian Phillips – 7 tackles (6 solo, 1 assist) and 1.0 sacks
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
.500 - The winning percentage of rookie QBs against the Patriots this year (1-1)
.381 – The winning percentage of rookie QBs against Bill Belichick during his career (8-21)
7 - The number of games this season where the Patriots have scored 20 points or less (1-6)
11- The number of takeaways by Patriots CB J.C. Jackson (8 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries), the most by a Patriots defender during the Belichick Era
19 - The number of seasons that the Patriots had a record better than .500 under the (2001-2019)
14:52 - The difference in time of possession between the two teams for the game (Patriots - 22:34; Dolphins 37:26)
250 - The total amount of rushing yards by the Miami Dolphins, the most rushing yards allowed by the Patriots defense this season
Did You Know That...
- Even with the victory over the Dolphins, because the Buffalo Bills beat the Denver Broncos 48-19 on Saturday, they ended up winning the AFC East Division Title in 2020. This snapped an 11-year run by the Patriots (2009-2019) atop of the AFC East, which is an NFL record
- This was the 4th consecutive season since 2017 that the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins have split the season series where the Patriots won the first game and the Dolphins won the second game
- The 250 yards rushing allowed by the Patriots was the most yards allowed by a Patriots defense since Week 12 in the 2013. In that game, the Patriots allowed 280 yards rushing for the game in a 34-31 OT home victory against the Denver Broncos
While we get closer and closer to the end of the season, this part of the Postgame Notebook is something that Patriots fans should keep an eye on the most.
Going into their Week 15 showdown against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots’ playoff chances were as followed:
According to the NY Times NFL PCG (Playoff Chance Generator), the Patriots had a 3% chance of making the playoffs while having less than 1% chance of winning the AFC East, a first-round bye, and making the Super Bowl.
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, the Patriots Patriots had a 2% chance of making the playoffs, a 0% chance of winning the AFC East and getting a first-round bye, and less than 1% chance of making the Super Bowl.
But with the loss to the Dolphins, the Patriots are officially eliminated from the playoffs. There is no more postseason hope, no more path, no more hoping for other teams to lose.
The Patriots are out. Bye Bye New England, try again next year (maybe).
Injury Bug Bites
This time of the year, many teams are struggling to keep their playoff hopes alive. They need all hands on deck and any sort of injury could be costly. Unfortunately for the Patriots, they suffered injuries to two key players of theirs.
In the 1st quarter of the game, starting LB Ja’Whaun Bentley ended up leaving the game due to an arm injury. He didn’t return for the remainder of the game.
Then in the 2nd quarter on the Dolphin’s last possession of the half, starting CB Stephon Gilmore went down and was holding onto his right knee in pain. He had to be helped off the field and into the locker room by trainers as he was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Then in the 4th quarter, starting C David Andrews ended up leaving the game due to a right hamstring issue and did not return.
Although the Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs, you don’t want to see players go down with injury at this point in time of the season. They still have something to play for whether it be for pride, to try and hit a contract incentive, or to look good for that next big paycheck.
Hopefully they can make a recovery and be able to suit up for next week and try to finish the season strong.
The Path is No More
For the past few weeks, all you heard about was ‘The Path’. For those who don’t know what ‘The Path’ was, normally it’s just the ‘Path to the Playoffs’ that teams that are in the hunt for a playoff spot late in the season need to go on in order to make it into the postseason. It just basically scenarios where they have to win a game and another team(s) has to lose.
Because the Patriots were in that situation and not sitting on top of the AFC like in years past, this was all the talk. But the pretzeling and reasoning by Patriots fans and media (looking at you Mike Felger) that the team would be able to make the playoffs was just asinine and laughable.
According to their beliefs, the Patriots simply just had to show up for each game and the opposition would crap themselves or find new ways to lose. That being the Patriots and having Bill Belichick as your coach would be more than enough to win. This belief grew even stronger after the team had reached 6-6 after throttling the LA Chargers in Week 13. Some were even saying that the team would sweep the rest of the way to go to 10-6 and be able to clench the AFC East division while the Buffalo Bills would crap themselves.
Unfortunately for them, they didn’t take into effect that the Patriots were short in talent in the key skills on offense (i.e. wide receiver, running back, and tight end). This was definitely on display in the team’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams the following week to put the team at 6-7.
Still, people thought the ‘Path’ was still open and that the next opponent up (the Miami Dolphins) would be a cakewalk because they have a rookie QB starting, they already beaten the same Dolphins team in Week 1 at home, and the old train of thought that the ‘AFC East blows’ .
Well after today’s loss to the Dolphins, those people are going to be eating a giant, giant piece of humble pie and wash it all down with a glass full of their tears.
The Dolphins, even with missing some of their best offensive players (RB Myles Gaskin, WR DeVante Parker, TE Mike Gesicki), still showed up to play and proved to be more than a handful. In fact, they punched the vaunted Patriots defense and ran all over them and then stifled one of the NFL’s best rushing offenses and made them look inept.
Patriots fans and media people need to understand that games are not won on paper or on social media that many, they are won on the field. You can’t expect your team to show up, expect the opponent craps all over themselves, and then come away with the W.
Now with two weeks left in the 2020 NFL season, Pats nation can only simply watch and wait for the end to come. There is no Path. There is no postseason. There is no Super Bowl party. There is no Duck Boat Parade. That’s it.
Thank you for coming, try again next year.
Fox Fist Bump Present
I know that it’s ‘Tis the season to be giving’ but I am only giving the Fox Fist Bump to K Nick Folk.
It seemed like he was the only one who showed up to this game. He went a perfect 4-for-4 for the game, including hitting 3 field goals from 40 yards and out. Going into the game, he had hit 20 consecutive field goals since Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks.
With 2 games left in the season and the way that the offense is stalling out deep in enemy territory, it won’t surprise me if Folk gets to tack on a few more field goals.
The Lump of Coal of the Game
With Christmas just a few days away, I think I will change this into lumps of coals.
This week’s Lump of Coal goes to the Patriots defense.
Last week, they got their asses handed to them by the Rams to the tune of 186 yards with RB Cam Akers making up 179 yards of that total. This week, they yielded a season-high 250 yards rushing to the Dolphins and allowed another rookie RB in Salvon Ahmed to run for over 100-yards for the second consecutive week (Ahmed finished the game with 122 yards on 23 carries and had 1 TD). Not to mention that allowed another RB in Matt Breida to rush for nearly 100 yards as well (Breida actually finished the game with 86 yards on 12 carries).
What’s even worse about this is the fact that this is the same Patriots defense (for all intents and purposes) that held the Dolphins to just 87 yards the last time these two teams met back in Week 1.
Their play was so bad, I had to double check my with my cable provider that I was watching the New England Patriots playing. Woof!
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