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New England Patriots

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 20: Salvon Ahmed #26 of the Miami Dolphins scores a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the third quarter in the game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Now it’s truly official. The Patriots are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after the Miami Dolphins handed them their eighth loss on Sunday, a 22-12 final at Hard Rock Stadium in Week 15. Despite their chances dropping to virtually zero before Sunday, The Pathâ„¢ has finally closed up for good.

The Patriots couldn’t accomplish two of the most fundamental goals in winning football games, as their inability to score touchdowns or stop the run on defense ultimately doomed them. Kicker Nick Folk scored all of the points for the Patriots as he went 4-for-4 on field goals.

Miami rushed 42 times for 250 yards (a 6-yard average) and three touchdowns as a team on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium, moving away from the passing game and toward the ground attack more as the game went along. The Dolphins’ pass defense, meanwhile, limited Patriots quarterback Cam Newton to just 17-of-27 passing for 209 yards, an 86.8 rating.

The Dolphins also forced a turnover with a fumble by wide receiver Jakobi Meyers after making a catch in the second quarter. In addition, Cam Newton fumbled the ball in bounds but narrowly avoided a turnover and Miami touchdown return, as the review showed that a Miami player touched the loose ball while out of bounds.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was 20-for-26 for just 145 yards and an interception through the air on Sunday. But on the ground, Tagovailoa ran for two of Miami’s three touchdowns.

The Patriots left the game with multiple injury concerns. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (knee), center David Andrews (calf), and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (arm) all had to leave the game early with injuries.

Sunday’s loss ends a streak of 11 straight seasons making the playoffs for the Patriots, as well as a 19-year streak of finishing the season over .500.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.