What a finish. The Miami Dolphins defeated the New England Patriots with a series of laterals on the final play of the game to win 34-33. It will take some time to process what the heck happened for the Patriots, but there are some immediate takeaways we can analyze.
Tom Brady was incredible
Brady wasn’t perfect, but he completed 27 of 43 (62.8%) for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was decisive, flashed impressive arm strength and touch on the deep ball, and he looked like classic Brady.
Brady did fall on his face at the end of the first half when he ate the sack instead of throwing the ball away, costing New England at least three points, but that’s just one of a series of mishaps for the Patriots all day.
Rob Gronkowski, Josh Gordon, and Julian Edelman were excellent
Gronkowski caught all 8 of his targets for 107 yards and a touchdown, Gordon added 5 catches for 96 yards and drew a huge defensive pass interference penalty at the end of the game, and Edelman collected 9 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. The trio did all they could to win the game.
Gronkowski still doesn’t look like his old self, but it was good to see him involved in the game plan.
Chris Hogan disappeared again with only one target on the day (and in his defense, he was wide open in the end zone and Brady missed him).
The Patriots run defense was terrible
Miami picked up 189 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns on 21 carries for an average of 9.0 yards per carry. This is the second-straight week where the Patriots run defense has been atrocious and I have to believe that making Danny Shelton a healthy scratch played a huge part.
Whenever you let Brandon Bolden have 2 carries for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns, it’s a bad day at the office.
Hopefully the Patriots coaching staff can make the necessary adjustments because the run defense wasn’t this bad when Shelton was playing.
The Patriots secondary was excellent until the last play
Ryan Tannehill finished the day 14 of 19 for 265 yards and three touchdowns, but 69 of those yards came on the final play of the day. Up until that last play, where Rob Gronkowski was playing safety to defend the Hail Mary, the New England secondary had done a great job defending the Miami receivers.
Sure, Kenny Stills had 121 yards and a touchdown, beating both Jason McCourty and Devin McCourty all day, but no other Dolphins recorded more than one catch on the day.
This just makes the final play all-the-more frustrating.
Patriots punting units had a great day, Stephen Gostkowski did not
The New England Patriots blocked two punts on special teams, courtesy of recent signing Albert McClellan, although the Patriots weren’t able to capitalize fully on the great field position the second time around.
Gostkowski, on the other hand, did not have a great game, missing both an extra point and a reasonable 42-yard field goal. There were plenty of other things that went wrong for the Patriots, but Gostkowski’s missed and Brady’s decisions at the end of the half are at the top of the list for why the Patriots lost.
Patriots fail to clinch a playoff trip, have to wait for 10th straight division title
If the Patriots had held on, they would’ve won the AFC East and clinched another trip to the postseason. Instead, they have to wait another week or two as the Dolphins go on the road to face the Minnesota Vikings before hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars. New England needs one more win and also needs the Dolphins to record one more loss before clinching the division.
This loss also means that it’s even less likely for the Patriots to claim the top seed in the AFC as the Kansas City Chiefs managed to beat the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 in overtime to get to 11-2. Now the Patriots have to focus on getting a first round bye...
Patriots got some help in the playoff push from Adam Vinatieri and the Colts
Adam Vinatieri hit a 54-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half, which ultimately turned out to be the deciding points of the Indianapolis Colts 24-21 victory against the Houston Texans. This means both the Patriots and Texans lost and they have matching 9-4 records, with New England holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Texans finish out the year on the road against the Jets and the Eagles, before hosting the Jaguars in the season finale. The Patriots have to get past the Steelers next week and then beat the Bills and Jets.
The Patriots need to keep pace with Houston. They were lucky to get some help from the Colts.
Welp -- here goes nothing. Welcome to the Pats Pulpit Live Postgame Show!Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 9, 2018