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Miami Completes Season Sweep of New England, Win 31-17

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots have traditionally struggled to win in Miami. Unfortunately for a team in desperate need of a win, Sunday was no different. Despite hanging within striking distance for much of the game, New England was never able to turn the scoreboard in their favor. The Dolphins recovered from an early 7-0 deficit and never looked back. The AFC East battle finished in a 24-17 Miami Dolphins win.

New England refused to go down without a fight. Ultimately, their comeback bid fell just short..

Patriots Strike First

The game started slowly for both offenses. The Patriots received in the first half, but the teams traded punts on their opening drives. New England punted again on their next possession, giving Miami the ball back on their own 20-yard line following a Bryce Baringer kick into the end zone. Following a 15-down pass and a short run, Christian Barmore made the first big play of the game for the Patriots. He sacked Tua Tagovailoa for a six-yard loss and pumping up the Patriots defense. The sack also seemed to frazzle Tagovailoa. On the next play the Dolphins QB threw a pass into the arms of Patriots safety Kyle Dugger. New England snagged the game’s first turnover and it didn’t take long to turn it into points.

Following the interception, the Patriots took only two plays to score. Mac Jones found Kendrick Bourne who took it to the house. The 24-yard touchdown reception gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead.

Miami Battles Back

Despite the turnover and resulting New England touchdown, Miami was not down for long. They took just 3:10 to travel 75 yards for the game-tying touchdown, tying up the score at 7-7. The score came off of a 42-yard completion from Tagovailoa to Tyreek Hill. New England’s defense seemed to have a communication issue on the play. CB J.C. Jackson was on the outside with LB/DB Marte Mapu playing safety in the middle. Hill simply ran in between the two defenders, and effortlessly scored the Dolphins first touchdown of the afternoon.

End of the first quarter: Tied 7-7.

The Patriots were not able to reciprocate. A 10-yard holding penalty on Bourne brought the ball back to the Patriots own 17-yard line and two plays later they were punting for the third time.

Miami followed up with another touchdown drive, this one much more methodical. The drive started and penultimately ended on defensive penalties called against the Patriots. The Dolphins converted two fourth downs on the drive. First a fourth-and-four from the New England 42. Tua Tagovailoa saw the field open up in front of him and ran eight yards toward open turf and a first down. On their second conversion, from the Patriots eight yard like, a quick pass to Tyreek Hill picked up two yards when they only needed one.

It appeared the Patriots would hold the Dolphins to a field goal attempt when Tagovailoa’s pass on third and goal sailed over Hill’s head in the end zone. But pass interference was called against J.C. Jackson. Miami got a fresh set of downs from the one-yard line. One play later a completion to Cedrick Wilson, Jr. gave Miami a 14-7 lead.

Nothing is More Important Than Ball Security

Trailing by a touchdown, the Patriots offense did not appear flustered. To the contrary, New England put together a lengthy drive of their own. They took the ball 52 yards in nine plays, using up 4:22 in game time. As opposed to the beginning of the season when the defense would immediately go back on the field quickly, the offense provided them with a breather. Keys to the drive included some hard running by Rhamondre Stevenson and completions to Demario Douglas and DeVante Parker.

But just a play after hitting Parker on a crisp slant, the Jones sailed one down the sideline in his direction. Jalen Ramsey, playing in his first game with the Dolphins, slid over and grabbed the interception. He returned the ball 49 yards all the way back to the Patriots’ 40-yard line. Instead of scoring the game-tying touchdown before halftime, Miami had the lead and the ball, in addition to receiving to start the second half. Although the Patriots defense was able to hold them to a field goal, it gave the Dolphins a 17-7 lead at halftime.

We Have a Game!

Despite losing momentum heading into halftime, the Patriots quickly turned that around after the break. On Miami’s very first play of the second half, Tua Tagovailoa fumbled Patriots LB Anfernee Jennings dove in and corralled the loose ball, giving the Patriots possession deep in Miami territory.

Although they began in the red zone, the drive quickly went nowhere. A Christian Wilkins sack of Mac Jones took the offense off the field on a three-and-out, bringing on the field goal unit. PK Chad Ryland was at least able to add three points off of the turnover, cutting the Dolphins lead to 17-10.

Once again the Dolphins didn’t let some adversity slow them down. When they got the ball back they quickly double their lead. A 77-yard drive was sparked by long gains on passes to Tyreek Hill (22 yards), Jaylen Waddle (23 yards) and Chase Claypool (15 yards). Raheem Mostert took a handoff for a one-yard touchdown run to make it 24-10 Miami.

Drives ending in punts by each team brought the end of the third quarter with Miami still up by 14 points.

Another New England Comeback?

The fourth quarter began the way the third ended, with the teams trading punts. This resulted in the Patriots getting the ball on their own 19-yard line with 13:47 to play in regulation. Ezekiel Elliott sparked the drive with a pair of hard runs, which resulted in 22 total yards. Mac Jones hit Hunter Henry and Demario Douglas for a pair of nice gains, then Elliott ran for another seven yards. Rhamondre Stevenson then entered at running back and kept things going. Another completion to Henry, coupled with a run and a reception for by Stevenson got the ball down to the Dolphins three-yard line. Down 14 points with less than ten minutes to play, New England had entered four-down territory. They would need all of them.

The next three plays from the Patriots went incomplete pass, run for no gain, incomplete pass.This set up a fourth and goal from the three. Jones found JuJu Smith-Schuster open, who trotted into the end zone to cut the deficit in half. New England trailed 24-17 with 8:33 to play in the fourth.

Could the Patriots have their second consecutive fourth quarter comeback? Was this game destined for overtime?

Miami Takes Advantage of a Second Chance

New England just needed one more stop in order to get the ball back to the offense and have a chance to tie the game. For a moment, it appeared the Patriots defense had done just that.

Miami got a nice gain on the ground from Mostert for 10 yards and a first down. Three plays later on third-and-nine, Tagovailoa went across the middle to Tyreek Hill. Hill was brought down by the legs as he made the catch. Myles Bryant brought him down to the turf three yards behind the first down marker, but the first down was granted and Miami kept moving.

After a couple of runs and a short pass, Mostert was given the ball again on the New England 34-yard line. He needed four yards for the first down and was stuffed short of the needed yardage. But the Miami running back kept pumping his legs trying to pick up the first down and the Patriots did not bring him down. As this was happening, LB Jahlani Tavai punched the ball out of Mostert’s hands for a fumble. As New England was ready to collect the loose ball, whistles began to blow, seconds after the ball was already out. The officials determined that Mostert’s forward momentum had been stopped and therefore it was no fumble. Miami kept possession.

On the next play Tagovailoa hit Waddle in the open field and the wide receiver ran it the rest of the way. Instead of Patriots ball with a chance to tie in the final minutes, the fumble blown dead and subsequent 31-yard touchdown pass made the score 31-17 Dolphins lead with 2:49 to play.

For all intents and purposes the game was over. New England would turn the ball over on downs on their final possession. A third down pass from Mac Jones was nearly intercepted by Dolphins DB Byron Jones. A hit by JuJu Smith-Schuster knocked the potential interception loose, but a flag was thrown. An unsportsmanlike penalty was called on the Patriots wide receiver, costing them a down. Since that down was fourth, Miami got the ball back and the game was over. Dolphins win, 34-17.

Awful Officiating

Patriots-Dolphins is the eighth game that has been covered by Patriots Football Now. Officiating was never questioned in any of the previous games, but there was some suspect calls on Sunday in Miami.

Pass interference called against J.C. Jackson in the in the second quarter was not good. Instead of the Dolphins kicking a field goal, they scored a touchdown.

An ineligible receiver penalty was called against the Miami offense line in the third quarter. Replays showed this to be the correct call. The flag was inexplicably picked up by the officials without explanation, resulting in a 20-yard gain for Miami’s Salmon Ahmed.

With 6:26 to play in the third quarter DeVante Parker was hit in the head by the Dolphins DeShon Elliott. The crown of Elliott’s helmet his Parker in the facemask as the ball arrived. The defenseless Parker was injured on the play, helped off the field, and did not return. No penalty was called.

On the Patriots final offensive play, the unsportsmanlike penalty against Smith-Schuster was called for taunting Byron Jones. There are two problems with this: the flag was thrown before Smith-Schuster “stood over” Jones and he really didn’t stand over Jones at all. Appeared the flag was thrown for the hit on Jones, which was legal. Instead of picking it up, the officials just called it for a different reason. Christian Wilkins and the Dolphins defense then attempted to start a fight after the play but no penalties were called on them. So instead of a penalty on Miami, or offsetting penalties, a bizarre call against Smith-Schuster ended the game.

Injured Patriots

LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (hamstring), WR DeVante Parker (head) and WR Kendrick Bourne (knee) all left the games with injuries and did not return.

What’s Next…

The New England Patriots (2-6) host the Washington Commanders (3-5) next Sunday at 1 PM EST.

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