The Patriots will head into the postseason with a bad taste in their mouths. They dropped their season finale to the Dolphins 33-24 Sunday afternoon in Miami.
With the loss, the Patriots finish the season 10-7, good for either the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. They’ll now wait on the result of the Sunday Night Football game – if the Raiders win, the Patriots will head to Buffalo for round three against the Bills. If the Chargers win, it’s on to Cincincatti.
To open the game, the Dolphins marched down the field going 77 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. The drive heavily featured rookie Jaylen Waddle, who caught four passes for 25 yards and the score, putting Miami up 7-0.
Things didn’t get much better when the offense got the ball. Facing a 3rd & 1, Mac Jones was intercepted in the flat by Xavien Howard, who returned it for a touchdown. It was 14-0 Miami just seven minutes into the game.
Getting the ball back, the Patriots managed just one first down before being forced to punt. The Dolphins then broke out a fake punt which came up short, but Brandon Bolden was called for a questionable unnecessary roughness call. That extended the Dolphins’ drive to close the first quarter. Miami would eventually come away with a field goal, taking a 17-0 lead.
The Patriots finally responded on their first drive of the second quarter. A Jones 35-yard rollout completion to Hunter Henry and a Kendrick Bourne end around were the big plays, with Brandon Bolden finishing things with a 15-yard touchdown run. That made the score 17-7.
After a Dolphins punt, the Patriots had a chance for a double score.Facing a 4th & 1 from midfield with 90 seconds to play in the half. They elected to take a penalty trying to draw Miami offsides, punting the ball away. Heading into the half, the Dolphins led 17-7.
A 13-play, 50 yard drive to open the first half resulted in a 43-yard Nick Folk field goal, making it 17-10 Dolphins. The Dolphins went right back up two scores, with a pass interference call on Jalen Mills setting them up at the one yard line. Duke Johnson punched it in to set the score at 24-10.
When it looked like the Patriots were ready to respond, they had another miscue. Jones fumbled a snap from Ted Karras, and Miami recovered the ball. They then ran 6:30 off the clock, taking the game into the fourth quarter. A forced punt was negated by a positional penalty on Lawrence Guy, and the Dolphins ended up kicking a field goal to go up 27-10.
Going into their hurry-up offense, the Patriots went 75 yards in 4:23, with Brandon Bolden catching a screen for the score. After a quick stop by the defense, Jones led them down the field again. A deep completion to Jakobi Meyers and pass interference drawn by Nelson Agholor in the end zone allowed Damien Harris to punch the ball in from the one. The drive covered 76 yards in 1:56 and put the Patriots within a field goal, 27-24, with 2:53 to play.
As has been the pattern at times this year, the Patriots never got the ball back to complete the comeback. Tua Tagovailoa gained 11 yards on a 3rd & 8 to chew an extra minute off the clock.
A punt downed the Patriots inside the five, with time for one last play. One attempted lateral ended up in the hands of a Dolphins defender, adding six garbage time points to the total.
Mac Jones finished the game 20-of-30 for 261 yards with a touchdown and interception. Brandon Bolden led the team in rushing with 46 yards on seven carries with a score – he also caught two passes picking up 20 yards and scoring another touchdown. Hunter Henry was the leading receiver with five catches for 86 yards.
Ja’Whaun Bentley led the team with 17 tackles. Kyle Van Noy added a sack, and Adrian Phillips and J.C. Jackson both broke up passes.
Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.