Dolphins dominate Patriots 33-24 in regular season finale
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Jaylen Waddle landed a touchdown and set the NFL record for receptions in a rookie year, Duke Johnson rushed for 117 yards and the Miami Dolphins ended their season beating the New England Patriots 33 -24 in the playoffs on Sunday.
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Xavien Howard returned an interception for a touchdown and Johnson landed a touchdown for Miami (9-8), who finished with a record-winning second in a row and once again had no playoff spot in show for it.
Brandon Bolden two touchdowns – one on the ground, one on reception – for the Patriots (10-7), who are heading into the playoffs as a wild card. But they were swept away by the Dolphins for the first time since 2000 and the result handed the AFC East title to the Buffalo Bills, whose game against the New York Jets was not yet final when the Patriots game. -Dolphins ended.
New England needed a win over Miami to keep the AFC East prospects alive. The Patriots have previously played in wildcard games under coach Bill Belichick – but never made the playoffs during Belichick’s days as a wildcard. The previous 17 playoff appearances of his years there have come after a division title.
This streak didn’t end easily, however.
New England only needed eight minutes to reduce a 27-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to 27-24. Mac Jones connected with Bolden for 18 yards on a screen to bring New England down to under 10, and the Patriots got a save to get the ball back.
Jones started the next possession by finding Jakobi Meyers for a 39-yard gain with 4:40 remaining to place the Patriots deep into Miami territory, Damien Harris came in a yard a few minutes later and just like that, the Patriots were inside Three.
Miami took over with 2:53 to go, out of 25, with no downtime and Tua Tagovailoa having thrown for the grand total of 2 yards in the second half.
He ended up sealing things with his feet, not his arm. Facing a third and eight of his 42 with just under two minutes to go and New England close to reclaiming the ball, Tagovailoa traveled 11 yards.
And soon, game over.
Johnson rushed for more yards than Tagovailoa passed (109) and that didn’t matter. Miami has found a way.
Jones completed 20 of 30 passes for 261 yards for New England. The Patriots recovered the ball with 3 seconds left, requiring 98 yards for a score, and Miami’s Sam Eguaoven was credited with recovering a fumble that became a late-game touchdown.
It was 14-0 in Miami in a flash. Waddle netted three catches on Sunday after breaking Anquan Boldin’s 2003 NFL rookie record of 101 catches – and the Dolphins got it in their first four games. He capped practice with his sixth touchdown of the year, capturing a 7-yard pass from Tagovailoa to open the scoring.
Howard jumped in front of a Jones pass and returned it for 37 yards in the ensuing third play of New England possession, giving the Dolphins a two-point lead and they would never be left behind. It was 17-7 at halftime, Johnson scolded early in the fourth for a 27-10 lead and it looked like Miami had done the job.
Appearances were deceptive, but the dolphins held on.
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New England lost OL Isaiah Wynn to an ankle injury in the second quarter. He walked up the tunnel leading to the locker room without too much difficulty. RB Rhamondre Stevenson (lead) and DB Sean Davis (shoulder) also struggled with first-half injuries for the Patriots and DL Christian Barmore was injured in the Tagovailoa scrum with 1:48 remaining. For the Dolphins, S Eric Rowe limped in the third quarter with a back injury and did not return.
Miami became just the second team to win their two AFC East meetings against New England in the past 21 years. Buffalo did it in 2020; prior to that, Miami and the New York Jets both did in 2000.
Patriots: Joker game next weekend.
Dolphins: Quarterback speculation season begins.
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