BOSTON (CBS) — It’s over. Following an uninspiring 22-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots are officially out of the NFL’s playoff picture.
For the first time since 2008, the NFL playoffs will go on without the Patriots. New England will finish no better than .500, falling to 6-8 with Sunday’s defeat.
“Disappointed, but we didn’t deserve to win today,” Bill Belichick said after the loss in Miami.
A lot went wrong for the Patriots down in South Florida, so let’s jump right into the Ups and Downs of Sunday’s game before it sinks in that there are only two Patriots games left this season.
The Patriots will not be playing in the postseason for the first time since 2008, and that is a pretty big bummer. They have two games left but those games mean nothing, aside from the possibility of facing an 0-15 Jets team in Week 17.
The end was fitting too, with Cam Newton getting sacked on a fourth-and-3 on New England’s final possession to turn it over on downs. It was a play he absolutely couldn’t get sacked on, yet that’s how it ended. Could that be the final image of Newton in a Patriots uniform? We’ll find out next Monday night.
Miami was without three of their top receiving weapons, so the Patriots had to know going in that the Dolphins were going to try to get their offense going on the ground. That should have benefited the Patriots, considering Miami entered the game last in the NFL in terms of yards per carry.
But putrid isn’t a strong enough word to describe New England’s run defense on Sunday. It was beyond horrendous, as the Dolphins averaged six yards every time they ran the ball.
Salven Ahmed, who had 166 career rushing yards heading into the game, led the way with 122 yards on the ground. He averaged 5.3 yards on his 23 carries. Matt Breida had 86 yards on 12 carries, including a 24-yard scamper late in the fourth that bled the clock on a Miami touchdown drive.
New England’s front seven knew going in that they had to stop the run. Instead, they went out and played some real paper bag defense on Sunday.
Stephon Gilmore’s Leg
The star corner went down in the second quarter after he slipped on the turf while in coverage. Gilmore turned his right ankle as he tried to change direction, and stayed down for several minutes. He did not return, and may not be playing the rest of the season.
That would be unfortunate if that was Gilmore’s final play in a New England uniform, though after the game there was an encouraging update from Ian Rapoport.
Ja’Whaun Bentley (arm) and John Simon (hamstring) also left Sunday’s game with injuries, which isn’t great news for the New England defense.
Third Down Offense
The Patriots offense was just 2-for-9 on third down. Yuck.
Too Many Men Penalty
Uncharacteristic penalties have been a giant thorn in New England’s side this season. They got hit with another on Sunday, when the defense was flagged for having 12 men on the field on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Making the penalty worse was the fact that it came after a TV timeout following the end of a quarter. The Patriots had a whole TV break and they still came out with too many men on the field. That has happened far too often this season, and a big reason why the Patriots will only be playing football for two more weeks.
J.C. Jackson — Mr. Turnover
Jackson picked off his eighth pass of the season, and it was a biggie. Miami had driven the length of the field after starting at their own 2-yard line, but Jackson jumped in front of a Tua offering for Lynn Bowden in the end zone to keep the Dolphins off the board. Miami got nothing out of a 15-play, 95-yard drive thanks to Mr. Turnover.
It was Jackson’s 10th takeaway of the season, tying him for second-most in Patriots franchise history. His eight “catches” would tie him for eighth-most on the New England offense this season.
The Foot Of Folk
Nick Folk is nails, man. Absolute nails.
He was 4-for-4 on Sunday, and has now connected on a career-best 25 straight field goals. Nick Folk is the Patriots’ most dangerous offensive weapon this season.
A Kick Of Bailey’s
The punter is still great. Jake Bailey only punted twice — New England’s first two possessions — but they were both great kicks. Miami started at their own 22 and their own 2-yard line when Bailey kicked it away to them.
Yep, two of the three ups were guys who kicked the football. The 2020 New England Patriots!