The end of the New England Patriots regular season is upon us.
In what will be their 17th game of the regular season, the Patriots are in Florida to face the Miami Dolphins in a final set-up before the playoffs. Their hopes for the # 1 spot died Saturday as the Kansas City Chiefs minded their own business, while the only way they can take the division is if the New York Jets clinch a memorial victory over the Buffalo Bills. Essentially, this game seems to be more of a final overhaul than anything else.
Following a 40-point victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Patriots will now advance to the Dolphins and focus on propping up their run before the postseason. So while the outcome of this game probably won’t have much of an effect on the playoff standings, it will matter for a team still waiting to catch up. Can New England keep up the momentum in the playoffs? Stay here to find out! Let’s Dance!
January 9, 4:25 pm ET | Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida | Broadcast information
Before the game
Inactive Patriots: S Kyle Dugger, LB Dont’a Hightower, RB JJ Taylor, QB Jarrett Stidham, TE Devin Asiasi, | OL Yodny Cajuste (COVID), DB Myles Bryant (COVID)
Inactive Dolphins: WR Preston Williams, RB Salvon Ahmed, TE Hunter Long, LB Vince Biegel, DE Darius Hidge | CB Noah Igbinoghene (COVID), DB Sheldrick Redwine (COVID)
The Patriots will be without their best tackler and defensive signal Sunday as Kyle Dugger (hand) and Dont’a Hightower (knee) are inactive. Dugger missed the practice week, while Hightower was mostly limited. JJ Taylor, Jarrett Stidham, and Devin Asiasi continue to serve as healthy scratches, while their regular partner in crime, Shaun Wade, is ill but not on the inactive list. Yodny Cajuste and Myles Bryant continue to occupy the COVID list while N’Keal Harry and Joejuan Williams will return to the lineup after being controversial healthy scratches last week.
The Dolphins have some former starters who have healthy scratches as their injury report was empty Friday. Preston Williams, Salvon Ahmed, and Vince Biegel are some notable names.
New England had their pick on the coin toss, as the visiting team and Matthew Slater correctly picked heads. New England postponed their pick to the second half, which means Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins will go on offense.
Jake Bailey’s kickoff was returned to the Miami 23-yard by Dolphins newcomer Phillip Lindsay. That’s where Tagovailoa and company opened up, firing a screen pass to rookie Jaylen Waddle, who racked up nine yards on the first play from the scrimmage line. Tagovailoa hit Waddle again for a gain of four on the next play, resetting the chains. Two plays later, the Dolphins hit Waddle again for his third catch of the day, giving him the NFL record for most catches in a season by a rookie. Miami had a couple of first downs to midfield before an invasion penalty from Carl Davis gave them five more yards. Miami moved the ball with relative ease early on, effectively using its RPO style on New England’s underdeveloped defense. At third and third from New England’s 25-yard line, Tagovailoa hit Myles Gaskin for a gain of seven to move into the red area. On the next two plays, Miami scored nine yards and set up another third down where Tagovailoa would hit Waddle in the end zone for a touchdown. A great first trip to Miami. [Patriots 0 : 7 Dolphins]
New England opened its first series with a pair of runs by Damien Harris following a touchback from Miami. At 3rd and 2, Jones attempted his first pass of the day and delivered a strike to Xavien Howard, who returned it for a touchdown. [Patriots 0 : 14 Dolphins]
Backing off after a disastrous first drive, the Patriots were back on the ground, but Miami received a penalty for too many men and New England picked up five free yards. Harris converted for the first down for a gain of six before the Patriots flipped him through the air on a running back screen for a gain of five. Back on the ground, the Patriots fed Brandon Bolden, who was brought down for a loss of one, going up third and 6, that’s when Jones’ pass was deflected down the line forcing a punt. After the march, it was announced that starting tackle Isaiah Wynn would be questionable if he returned with an ankle injury, while running back Rhamondre Stevenson was in doubt with a head injury.
Miami started at its own 11-yard line after a solid punt from Bailey. They started on the ground with a seven-yard dash from Duke Johnson, before Tagovailoa threw another RPO and fed Durham Smyth for a 19-gain. Miami faced another third down after a pair of runs, this time with three yards to go. turn into. An overthrow of Tagovailoa fell in and out of Devin McCourty’s arms, leading to a false punt attempt that should have been unsuccessful, but Miami was rescued due to an unnecessary phantom rude call. The album lives for Miami. With his new series of casualties, Miami ran a screen before letting the clock run out on the fourth.
When the second quarter opened, rain began to fall in Miami Gardens. Faced with another third attempt, Miami returned to the RPO for a gain of 11 on the ground and a first attempt. Sean Davis, called up to the practice squad, stayed down after the play and eventually left the field. With a new series of downs inside New England’s 20-yard line, the Dolphins kept him on the ground with the rain mounting. That led to a third-and-seven in which Tagovailoa tested JC Jackson in DeVante Parker’s coverage, but saw the pass rejected in the end zone. Miami kicker Jason Sanders converted on a 30-yard field goal to extend the lead. [Patriots 0 : 17 Dolphins]
Gunner Olszewski returned the next kickoff at New England’s 26-yard line. Mac Jones’ first pass attempt was knocked down again, before he finally landed with a non-running back, hitting Hunter Henry for a 36-yard gain. Damien Harris made a six-yard pass before Kendrick Bourne finished for nine. New England faced a 3-inch inside Miami’s red area and opted to feed Brandon Bolden, who led him into the end zone from 15 yards. [Patriots 7 : 17 Dolphins]
The Dolphins’ next drive ended before it began when a third-down catch by Kyle Van Noy forced a three-out. New England has started catching up with the Miami RPOs.
More updates coming soon!