The Miami Dolphins completed the season sweep of the playoff-bound New England Patriots yesterday, defeating Mac Jones, Bill Belichik and company by a score of 33-24. The win secures Miami’s first back-to-back winning seasons since the 2002 and 2003 squads went 9-7 and 10-6 respectively.
Like most of you, I’m sitting here wondering where this version of the Miami Dolphins were last week when they got trounced by the Tennessee Titans by 31 points, but alas, you can’t change the past. You can only hope to build towards a better future, and defeating arguably your most hated rival twice in one season while securing a winning record are positive building blocks, even if missing the playoffs sure does sting a whole lot considering preseason expectations for these Dolphins.
So, for the last time this season, join me as we take a look at the good, bad and ugly from yesterday’s victorious contest against the New England Patriots.
Miami’s rushing attack leads the way offensively
The Miami Dolphins had themselves a quality day on the ground against the New England Patriots – rushing the ball 43 times for 195 yards, good for 4.5 yards per tote.
Duke Johnson once again spearheaded the rushing attack – gaining 117 yards on 25 carries (4.7 yards per attempt). He also contributed one rushing touchdown.
Phillip Lindsay tacked on 40 yards on 11 attempts, while Tua Tagovailoa added 38 yards on 5 attempts – including a huge first down run late in the contest that all but sealed the Patriots’ fate.
Against a good defense like New England’s, a day like yesterday from Miami’s ground attack is not something to scoff at. The current recipe for success for this team seems to be playing opportunistic defense, combined with a solid ground attack and not turning the ball over. Hopefully they will be able to build on that for next year.
Tua Tagovailoa passed for just 109 yards against the Pats – doing little to cement his position as Miami’s franchise QB going forward
His rushing yards were critical to Miami’s win, however Tua Tagovailoa’s passing game was subpar on Sunday. Admittedly, Tua didn’t need to have an outstanding day passing the football, as Miami was cruising on the ground and the Dolphins’ defense provided a couple of key turnovers, yet his play left a lot to be desired in the accuracy and decision making department.
Many of us would have loved to see Tua finish the season firing quick, decisive passes like he was doing in the middle of the year, but much like the past few games, plenty of his passes were off target. The Patriots should have had multiple interceptions this game, but defensive backs don’t play wide-receiver for a reason, and due to a handful of drops from New England, Tua miraculously finished this game with zero turnovers.
Decision makers in Miami will have to spend a good portion of the off-season evaluating the play of their young, second-year quarterback to decide if Tua Tagovailoa should continue to lead the Dolphins next season, or if they should pursue a proven veteran option at the position with their stash of high draft picks and league-leading amount of cap space. While there are arguments to be made for keeping Tua, and there are arguments to be made for moving on, we will save those for future off-season columns.
San Francisco defeats Los Angeles to clinch playoff berth – hurting Miami’s 1st round draft pick in the process
Normally I root for the San Francisco 49ers, as my friend, George Kittle, is a standout player for that team (how’s that for a name drop?!), but that changed this year as Miami’s only first round pick is the one they acquired from the 49ers during a trade this past off-season.
When the 49ers came back from 17 points down to stun the Los Angeles Rams in overtime on Sunday, Miami’s first round pick took a hit, as San Francisco clinched a spot in the playoffs with the victory.
They’ll face off with the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs, and odds-makers already have the 49ers as 3 point underdogs. A first round loss for San Francisco is good for Miami’s draft pick, so there will be plenty of Dolphins fans wearing their boots and greeting their loved ones with a hearty “HOWDY!” this week.
How are you feeling after Miami’s bittersweet victory? Do you think Miami will move on from Tua Tagovailoa in the off-season? In your opinion, did Sunday’s victory secure Brian Flores’ job for next year? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!