Week 15 Recap: New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

Week 15 Recap: New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

by December 20, 2020 1 comment

In an AFC East matchup with significant playoff implications, the Miami Dolphins (9-5) defeated the New England Patriots (6-8) to solidify a divisional transition of power. The loss leaves the Patriots with multiple questions as their early offseason approaches, while the Dolphins remain firmly in the playoff hunt. 

First Half

Defense ruled the first half, as the initial three drives resulted in punts. Miami drove down the field at the end of the first, but Tua Tagovailoa made a rookie mistake near the goal line. With the pocket collapsing, the Alabama product forced a ball towards Lynn Bowden that J.C. Jackson easily intercepted. 

On the subsequent possession, Cam Newton and the Patriots put together a 69-yard drive that resulted in a Nick Folk field goal. New England’s defense continued to stymie the Dolphins, shutting down their next possession. The Patriots once again drove into Miami territory before Newton fumbled while running down the sideline. The ball was picked up by Xavien Howard, who ran 86 yards untouched into the end zone. However, upon review, it was revealed that a Dolphins defender was out of bounds and made contact with the ball before Howard picked it up. As a result, New England got the ball back and Folk converted a 36-yard field goal to push the lead to six. 

Unfortunately for the Patriots, Stephon Gilmore suffered a non-contact leg injury that could be serious in Miami’s final drive of the half. The Dolphins attempted to put points on the board, converting a 4th-and-8 to get into field goal range. However, Jason Sanders’ 52-yard attempt was wide left. New England’s lead remained at 6-0 heading into halftime. 

Miami’s Comeback Seals the Deal

Miami took the lead on the opening drive of the second half, as Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida tore apart New England’s subpar run defense before Ahmed found the end zone on a first-and-goal. 

Prior to the game, the key to winning for the Patriots would be avoiding turnovers. They successfully did so in the first half, but stumbled out of the gates in the second, as Jakobi Meyers was stripped by Howard. Fortunately for New England, Tagovailoa and the Dolphins were unable to turn that mistake into points.

Field goals remained the theme of the day for the Patriots, as a 45-yard Folk kick gave them the lead again. Trailing 9-7, the Dolphins continued to dominate New England on the ground. After a long drive, Tagovailoa scrambled three yards into the end zone. Miami was successful on the two-point conversion, stretching their lead to 15-9.

Folk continued his big day on New England’s ensuing possession, converting a 42-yard field goal to bring the Patriots within three points. Miami proceeded to march down the field and punch in a 1-yard Tagovailoa rush to put the game out of reach.

Ahmed was the player of the game for Miami, rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown. His consistent presence kept the Dolphins’ offense on the field, which eventually proved to be enough to secure the win. 

Highlights 

With the loss, the Patriots are officially eliminated from playoff contention. This result took a long time, but New England’s 11-season streak of reaching the postseason has finally been broken. As for Miami, the Dolphins control their own destiny moving forward. If they win out in their remaining two contests against the Raiders and Bills, they’ll make the postseason. If they drop one of those games, Baltimore could sneak in and take the final playoff spot. It is the end of an era in New England, while Miami stays alive.

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