This is not the New England Patriots that have dominated the AFC East for the last two decades. Tom Brady is gone, and Cam Newton has been trash all season. The Patriots will have their worst season since 2000, they will not win the division, and even with a win, the Patriots at 7-7 would have been a longshot to get into the postseason. However, beating the Patriots and sealing their coffin with a 22-12 win was sweet nonetheless. The most important thing is the Miami Dolphins are alive and well at 9-5 and go on the road seeking to get in the playoffs, as the AFC playoff bubble is stacked, with 10-6 possibly not being enough to get in.
It was a tough beat for the Dolphins before the game even began as leading rusher Myles Gaskin was inactive again due to COVID protocols. At the same time, their three top receivers, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, and Jakeem Grant, were sidelined with injuries. This meant Tua Tagovailoa would have to be on top of his game, as his favorite weapons were unavailable. The Dolphins would also need a strong effort from their defense, and that is exactly what they had, as they kept New England out of the end zone, bending but not breaking by allowing five field goals.
The first half was hardly a Rembrandt for the Dolphins as they trailed 6-0 after two quarters. The Dolphins had one good drive in the first quarter that ended with an interception by J.C. Jackson on the last play of the quarter. The Patriots managed two field goals by Nick Folk in the second quarter. The Dolphins appeared to have a touchdown, but Xavien Howard's scoop and score from a Newton was reversed when the ball hit off Christian Wilkins, who was out of bounds. The Dolphins did have a shot at points before halftime, but Jason Sanders missed a 52-yard field goal.
The Dolphins came out strong out of the locker, going 72 yards in nine plays to take a 7-6 lead as Salvon Ahmed scored from the one. Ahmed had a big day for Miami, rushing for 122 yards on 23 carries. The Dolphins had a chance to take control of the game as Jakoby Meyers' fumble was recovered by Elandon Roberts. This extended Miami's turnover streak to 19 games. However, the offense sputtered as a fake punt first down throw by Matt Haack was wiped out by a penalty. The Patriots got the ball and drove down for a field goal to regain the lead. Penalties were an issue all day for Miami, who were flagged seven times.
While the Patriots were settling for field goals, the Dolphins were finishing drives and regained the lead in the fourth quarter on a three-yard run by Tua Tagovailoa. Miami went for two and made it on a brilliant hook and ladder from Tua to Isaiah Ford, who pitched it back Ahmed for the conversion. The Patriots would again drive into Miami territory but settled for a field goal again, as the Dolphins led 15-12 heading into crunch time. The Dolphins would respond with a time-consuming 11-play drive that resulted in a second touchdown for Tua.
The Patriots faced desperation down 22-12 as time was running down, they again got into Miami territory. Still, the game ended when Emmanuel Ogbah took down Cam Newton for the third time today. With the win, the Dolphins are 9-5 heading into the final two games of the season against the Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills on the road. Tua Tagovailoa had an up and down game, passing for just 145 yards with one interception as he was missing his three top targets. The Dolphins' defense was solid as the Patriots were held without a second straight game touchdown. Miami has the tiebreaker edge over the Ravens as there will be at least one ten win team missing the playoffs in the AFC.