Winners and losers from the Patriots’ demoralizing loss to the Dolphins in Week 15
Bill Belichick's record against rookie quarterbacks seemed to hold up against Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins as the New England Patriots defense triggered a shutout in the first half of Week 15.
But then the Dolphins offensive did what most intelligent teams did against New England in 2020. Miami ran the ball. Again. Once again. And again. So the momentum changed in the second half when Miami won 22-12.
New England playoff hopes are officially dead. The Patriots are eliminated from the playoff competition for the first time since 2008. The Dolphins' playoff hopes are still alive. (They would have been dead if the Patriots had won.) And so the Patriots can ponder off-season, free story, and the 2021 NFL draft.
Here are the winners and losers of this game.
Loser: Defensive player Steve Belichick
The Patriots had a clear advantage over quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who finished the game 20 of 26 for 145 yards with one interception and two sacks. But New England just couldn't stop the run, an ongoing problem throughout the season. With so many teams in today's NFL showing their passing game primarily, the Patriots' weakness wasn't their biggest criticism. But make no mistake: it's a problem. It took center stage on Sunday in Week 15 when the Dolphins had 42 carry for 250 yards and three blistering touchdowns. Add the 12-man Patriots on the field penalty for defense when you get out of time off in the fourth quarter. It was a tough day for the younger Belichick.
Winner: CB J. C. Jackson
He stole points from the dolphins with an interception of the red zone on Tagovailoa. The rookie quarterback foolishly floated a ball to the sideline, where Jackson was in a better position for the ball than the intended target. https://twitter.com/NFL/status/1340726139904348161 That was perhaps Jackson's easiest catch of the season. And with Xavien Howard on the other side, it was probably twice as cute. The two cornerbacks are tied for eight interceptions, most of them in the NFL.
Loser: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels
The Patriots had problems on the first drive, a script from McDaniels. Yes that's right. He had 10 days (the Patriots last played on Thursday evening) to put together a first ride. But on that first carefully planned drive, McDaniels and the Patriots Offensive managed to lose ten feet. The rest of the game wasn't much better. He made a few nice wrinkles. The most notable: a fake bubble screen that produced a 36-yard pickup on a simple inclined rod by Jakobi Meyers. But these simple misdirections were too far and too little between 2020.
Winner: Safety Kyle Dugger
On a day when the Patriots were struggling to defend the barrel, Dugger was strong and physically. His five tackles do not adequately describe how he was able to influence the game. Its explosiveness is breathtaking, which is a good sign of a patriotic team in dire need of young playmakers.
Loser: QB Cam Newton
There are so many factors that contributed to Newton's rough performances, but - stop when you hear this - the Patriots didn't throw the ball well in week 15. And Newton was the guy who threw him. He finished 17 of 27 for 209 yards with three sacks. He's a product of uninspired gaming calls. It is a product of a reception corps that made Meyers number 1. He's a product of a tight-end group that doesn't play a role in the passing game. He is a product of an offensive line that Justin Herron selected as left winger in the sixth round. It's been a difficult season for Newton to make a career-changing comeback. And he didn't stand out in the game that ended the Patriots' playoff hopes.
Winner: S Adrian Phillips
Much like Dugger, Phillips struck the Dolphins on a day when New England urgently needed a knock. Phillips ended up with seven tackles, one sack, and one tackle against the loss.
Loser: CB Stephon Glimore
In the first half he suffered a knee injury. It was hard to see. He is Defending Defensive Player of the Year. His contract expires after 2021. He's one of the Patriots' best players. An injury - especially one with a long recovery - is not what Gilmore or the Patriots need. https://twitter.com/MikeGiardi/status/1340736530101506051
Winner: specialists Jake Bailey and Nick Folk
Bailey had two punts for 93 yards, including one that landed within the 50-yard line. Folk was 4 out of 4 on field goals with a long of 45.
Winner: WR Jakobi Meyers
He continued to campaign strongly for the title of heir to Julian Edelman. Meyers finished with seven catches for 111 yards. He stood in the slot and outside. He showed up at big moments, as evidenced by his 35 yard catch with 2:50 in the game. This young receiver's game has so much going for it. Since N'Keal Harry continues to strive to have a consistent effect, Meyers has not done so. He could be one of the top recipients on the list in 2021.
Winner: RB Sony Michel
We showed so much love for Damien Harris, a former third-round favorite, this year. And Sony Michel, a former first-round winner, didn't get the same praise. But when Harris dealt with an injury, Michel jumped back into his role as a powerback. He did well: 10 carry places for 74 yards.
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