BOSTON (CBS) — Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The Patriots suffered a brutal loss in Miami on Sunday. Not much went right for the Patriots in their first-ever Week 18 game, as they fell to the Dolphins, 33-24, in fairly brutal fashion.

The game started ugly, didn’t get much better throughout despite the Patriots cutting it to a three-point game late, and then ended really ugly. It was a pretty typical trip to Miami for the Patriots.

Mac Jones had a pair of turnovers that led to 10 Miami points, the defense couldn’t make a stop when they needed it (kinda like Week 1), and the Pats had some really brutal penalties (plus a few that didn’t go their way). But the Patriots didn’t exactly play like a team that deserved — or really wanted — to win on Sunday, doomed by a horrendous start.

“Obviously played poorly, coached poorly, didn’t do anything very well,” Bill Belichick said after the loss. “Just too many mistakes, way too many. We’ll go look at the film, turn the page here and make some corrections and move on to next week.”

The Patriots lost three of their final four games, which doesn’t exactly instill much faith in the team heading into Wild Card weekend. The Patriots will be on the road next weekend, with a visit to either Buffalo or Cincinnati up next. If the Raiders win on Sunday night, it’ll be Patriots-Bills Part 3. If the Chargers win, it’ll be Patriots-Bengals.

But before we look ahead, we unfortunately have to look back at the Ups and Downs from Week 18. Just a warning: There are a lot more Downs than Ups. A lot more.

Downs

UGLY Start For Defense

On Miami’s opening drive, the Dolphins marched 77 yards in 13 plays and finished off with a beautiful Tua-to-Waddle touchdown on great play-action fake by the quarterback. The drive took over seven minutes off the clock, as Miami picked up six first downs (four passing, two rushing) and went a perfect 3-for-3 on third down, including the scoring play.

The Patriots defense had no negative plays on the drive, and only one play went for no gain for the Dolphins. Yuck.

UGLY Start For Offense

New England’s third offensive play of the game went for a touchdown. For Miami.

Jones threw a truly awful pick-six, with Xavien Howard jumping Jakobi Meyers’ route and returning it 37 yards for the score. It gave Miami a 14-0 lead.

It was Jones’ fifth pick in the last four games. Not great.

McCourty’s Dropped INT

The veteran safety was gift-wrapped an interception when Tua airmailed a third-and-3 offering right into his mitts. But McCourty dropped it, which let the Dolphins run a fake punt on the next play. The drive stayed alive when Brandon Bolden was called for unnecessary roughness for trying to tackle punter Michael Palardy.

That Call

That unnecessary roughness call was pretty bogus, as Bolden was going for a ball carrier who happened to slide when he saw the special teams ace coming at him. Palardy slid well ahead of the line to gain, and Bolden only barely made contract with Palardy’s shoulder. Not his head, neck, torso, hips, or lower body, as the rule states,

It was a bad call, and it was costly as the Dolphins added a field goal to the scoreboard. Pretty big since the Patriots pulled to within a field goal in the final three minutes.

4th And 1

The Pats lined up to go for it on a 4th-and-1 at midfield with just over a minute left in the half. But they had no desire to go for it, attempting to draw Miami offsides. Instead, Jones was hit with a false start and the Patriots punted away.

The double dip before halftime just doesn’t exist on New England’s to-do list anymore.

Mac’s Fumble

Throwing a ball to the Dolphins wasn’t enough for Mac. He also coughed up a snap at the Miami 23 to squander a golden scoring opportunity late in the third quarter.

Not a very great game to build off for the rookie quarterback as he prepares for his first career playoff game.

Guy’s Penalty

When it rains it pours. It was actually raining a little bit in Miami, but the pouring we’re talking about is poor play by the Patriots.

The Patriots actually forced a three-and-out after Jones’ fumble, but even that was wasted when Lawrence Guy lined up in the neutral zone on the ensuing punt. Instead of the Patriots taking over, the Dolphins retained possession and added a field goal (mostly thanks to the Patriots defense giving up a 23-yard Tua scramble on a third-and-3) to take a 27-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Once an unmatched strength, New England’s special teams play has been reallllllllly iffy this season.

Barmore Hurt

In addition to giving up that first down scramble to Tua on third-and-8 late in the game that all but sealed the win for Miami, Christian Barmore was hurt on the play. And it did not look good.

Not having the big rookie would be a massive blow to New England’s defensive front next weekend.

The Final Play

This is how the game — and the regular season — ended for the Patriots.

USUALLY, you don’t want your lateral to go to the opponent, especially when they’re a tip toe away from the end zone.

Ups

J.C. Saves A Score

After the dropped pick by McCourty and fake punt kerfuffle, J.C. Jackson made a touchdown-saving play in the end zone for New England. He played a DeVante Parker fade perfectly and swatted the ball away from the receiver, forcing Miami to settle for a field goal.

At least someone made a play on defense on Sunday.

Bolden On Offense

He pulled the Patriots within 10 points when he turned a short pass from Jones into an 18-yard touchdown with 6:32 left in the fourth quarter, making it a 27-17 game. He was the leading rusher on Sunday with 46 yards and a touchdown off seven carries, and added a pair of catches, including his fourth-quarter score.

Hunter Henry

Henry made some big plays, finishing the game with five receptions for 86 yards on six targets. That included this incredible catch early in the fourth quarter:

There weren’t many good plays on offense, but that was certainly one of them.

Touchdown Drives In Fourth

It was too little, too late, but the Patriots offense looked like an actual offense on two of their possessions in the fourth quarter.

The first scoring drive included that Henry catch and ended with Bolden’s 18-yard score. It was a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive.

After the defense forced a three-and-out, the offense made the most of it with another touchdown drive. It started with a lovely deep ball by Jones to Meyers that went for 39 yards and flipped the field for New England. A few plays later, Mac hit Damien Harris with a short pass that turned into an 11-yard game on second-and-8. Nelson Agholor drew a PI flag in the end zone, and a play later Harris took it into the end zone from a yard out to make it a 27-24 game.

That was as close as the Patriots would get, before things really fell apart on the final play.

 

CBSBoston.com Staff