21-5 was no match for Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins on Sunday as they defeated New England 22-12 and eliminated the Patriots from playoff contention. The loss also forces the club to miss the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Dolphins Pick Up Win, Inch Closer To Postseason
Miami was heading into Week 15 after a tough loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and were looking to even the season series between the Dolphins and Patriots. Miami is currently in the hunt for a playoff spot and after a comfortable but hard fought 22-12 win against New England, the Dolphins are one game closer to securing a playoff spot. But still, they’re in two more must-win situations currently with the state of the AFC Playoff picture.
Miami Has First 100 Yard Rusher In Multiple Seasons
The Dolphins looked strong in the win, especially in the run game, despite the slow start. They had their first 100-yard rusher in multiple seasons, Salvon Ahmed, who vowed before the game he’d do it for his sick grandmother. He delivered with 122 yards and a trip to the end zone. New England has struggled with rushers all season, and Sunday it led to its demise. The Patriots have allowed nine teams, including Miami, to rush for more than 100 yards, and today the Patriots allowed more than 250 total rushing yards from multiple players.
Along with Ahmed’s career-high 122 yards, RB Matt Breida finished with a season-high 80 yards and while Tagovailoa had just nine yards, he added two crucial rushing TDs.
“I think it just came down to executing. I think that’s what it comes down to every week. You just got to execute what the plays is called and go out there and do that all week,” Ahmed said on the offensive execution. “We practice hard as a team and just kind of go out there and execute. That’s what we expect.”
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Dolphins Blew First Half Opportunities
Although the Dolphins ended up with 22 points, Miami went into the halftime locker room with no points on the board and a six-point deficit. It saw a missed field goal from kicker Jason Sanders in the half as well as a red zone interception in the end zone from Tagovailoa after he got hit that left multiple scores on the board.
Miami Made Halftime Adjustments
The Dolphins came out of the locker room with new energy and scored a TD on the opening drive of the second half. This game was more proof of the difference head coach Brian Flores has made on the team and culture around the organization.
“I think we overcame a tough first half. That just speaks to the resiliency and the mental toughness of this team,” Flores said on the second half turnaround. “(We) did’t play great in the first half, got down into the red zone, turned it over. This team, we don’t go in the tank. We just keep playing. We just battle through. And that’s what they did.”
Tagovailoa Boomed On Ground, Had Quiet Day In Air
In the air Tagovailoa was rather quiet and caused more problems with his legs than his arm. He finished the game with just 147 passing yards and one INT, the only turnover of the game for the Dolphins. It is now back-to-back games he has thrown a pick and he will look to turn it around next week in primetime in the biggest game of his young career against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Tagovailoa Knows Improvements Are Still Needed, But Proud Of Performance
In a postgame interview Tagovailoa was asked about how he felt about his play during his first game against Belichick.
“I think there’s a lot of things that I need to continue to work on. It’s a continuing learning process for me as well. Going up against a Bill Belichick defense, that was a tough challenge for us offensively,” Tagovailoa said. “But like I said, I think the offensive line did a tremendous job and, in both the run and the pass game, and then you also had the running backs doing their thing as well.”
Miami Defense Shines Again
On the defensive side of the ball the Dolphins were just as effective holding the Patriots to 12 points and no TDs. They also held QB Cam Newton to a 25.1 QB rating.
Miami did a good job limiting the strong New England rushing attack too. Holding Newton to just 38 yards on nine carries and RB Sony Michel to 74 yards on 10 carries. The Patriots had 117 rushing yards on the day but could not make it to the red zone consistently and finished the game with just one trip leading to zero points.
“Just stopping the run, keeping Cam (Newton) out of the pocket, keeping him from running the ball, keeping him from throwing the ball, quarterback runs and stuff like that, just keeping him in the pocket basically. That’s about it, (that’s what we did well),” defensive tackle Raekwon Davis said.
Dolphins In Do Or Die Head To Vegas
Miami will be heading to Las Vegas to face off against the Raiders where the Dolphins will need to win in order to stay in the race for the seventh and final playoff spot.
Kickoff is set for Saturday at 8:15 p.m. eastern in a Saturday Night Football primetime matchup.
“https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″>– Garrison Pulley is a Sports Contributor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. Like and follow on Follow @gcooperpulley Follow @FPC_Dolphins and Facebook.