The Week 18 matchup vs. the Miami Dolphins didn’t go as planned. With a chance to capture the AFC East with a win and a loss by the Buffalo Bills against the New York Jets, the New England Patriots didn’t get either of the outcomes they needed.
The Patriots fell to the Dolphins 33-24 after a furious comeback attempt fell short in the fourth quarter. Also, the Bills defeated the Jets 27-10 to win their second consecutive AFC East crown.
Patriots Lose to Dolphins 33-24: How it Happened
The Patriots dug themselves a 17-0 hole early in the game as they were again bitten by their notoriously slow starts on both sides of the ball. The Dolphins began the game with a demonstrative 13-play, 77-yard TD drive to go up 7-0.
Mac Jones then threw a pick-6 to Dolphins star Xavien Howard on his first throw of the game. Just like that, the Patriots were down 14-0 in the first quarter. The offense couldn’t avoid a three-and-out on their next possession and the Dolphins marched 77 yards again to secure a field goal to push the lead to 17-0.
The Patriots didn’t appear to wake up until midway through the second quarter when Jones led the offense on a scoring drive that culminated with a 15-yard TD run from Brandon Bolden.
In the third quarter, Jones led another scoring drive that ended in a field goal and suddenly the Patriots were within a TD at 17-10.
Unfortunately, the next two possessions would prove to be the backbreakers for the Patriots. The Dolphins drove 75 yards and finished off the drive with a 1-yard TD run from Duke Johnson. He had 117 yards and a TD on 25 rushes. The Dolphins ran for 195 yards total, which will likely be a focus of the Patriots’ next opponent the Buffalo Bills.
On the next possession, with the Patriots down 24-10, Jones fumbled and the Dolphins recovered. Miami got a field goal out of the possession to bury the Patriots 27-10. To Jones and his teammate’s credit, they fought back into the fourth quarter.
A 10-play 75-yard drive drew the lead down to 27-17. The Patriots’ defense stiffened forcing a three-and-out possession and Jones responded. He led his second fourth-quarter scoring drive with a Damien Harris TD run with just under three minutes remaining drawing the Pats within three points at 27-24.
The Dolphins got the ball back and the Patriots still had all three of their timeouts. They forced Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins into a 3rd-and-8 situation with 1:56 remaining. Belichick took his first timeout knowing that a defensive stop would give Jones and the offense back the ball after a punt with a little over 1:30 left on the clock and at least one timeout in his pocket.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, Tagovailoa came up with his biggest play of the day, and the worst combination of events for the Patriots. He scrambled for the first down, slid inbounds to keep the clock moving, and perhaps worst of all, the Pats’ rookie defensive tackle Christian Barmore was injured on the play and had to be carted off the field.
New England wound up forcing the punt, but had with just 11 seconds left on the clock, the Patriots had to resort to a trick play inside the five-yard line. It led to a pick-6 from WR Jakobi Meyers and the final score was 33-24.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to the loss.
Twitter Reacts to Patriots Loss
According to NESN’s Zack Cox, ESPN Patriots beat writer delivered some bad news about the injury to Barmore.
The rookie took a hard hit on the play as he attempted to chase Tagovailoa down. It was an overall crushing sequence for the team as Barmore’s impact on defense will be felt during the postseason.
Here is a look at the injury:
Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard noted Tagovailoa’s spotless record against the Patriots as well as the Bills and Dolphins’ recent dominance over New England.
Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels took time to recognize Jones’ strong rookie season.
Henry McKenna of USA Today had Jones’ comments about his costly pick-six
The Patriots will travel to play the Bills in the Wildcard Weekend with a few areas to address.
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