2. It is sad to see the Patriots’ streak ending with 11 consecutive playoffs and 19 consecutive seasons of victories. How long has it been since the Patriots missed the playoffs? In 2008, 31-year-old Tom Brady had a new scar on his knee and an uncertain future, Flores was an assistant to the Patriots Special Teams, Newton was behind Tim Tipo and a guy named John Brantley in the depth-of-center chart at the University of Florida. But make no mistake: the finish is apt. The right team won on Sunday. The appropriate teams will play in the post-season.
3. It was fun and beneficial in many ways to have Newton around this season, and in the first two weeks of the season it seemed like this could work out satisfactorily. But he cannot throw the ball with the timing, touch and accuracy needed to be successful in the NFL. Because of this, you feel hopeless when the Patriots are late, as they did in the second half after carrying the dolphins goalless in the first half. Well I’ll say it: I’m probably playing Jarrett Steedham right now.
4. The Patriots received some decent offers in the attack. Sony Michel did a good job stepping in for Damien Harris, running 74 yards on 10 carts. Jacoby Meyers had his moments, with 35 yards off his 111 yards, although he also desensitized. But a goal attack in all areas will not succeed. And that’s their insult on Sunday, because the midfielder, even on days when he has good numbers (17 out of 27, 209 yards) can’t do anything with any consistency.
5. The Patriot missile defense was adequate at times. They came with an acceleration of 124 yards per match, and a 23rd place in the league. They fought some brutal games. The Niners ran 197 yards against them in Week 7 and Bills for 190 in Week 8. But they also held five opponents for under 100 accelerated yards, including Dolphins to 87 at the opening. With Cam Akers running 171 from 186 yards on the ground last week, one of the questions that entered Sunday was whether Miami, which averaged just 3.6 yards per load, would be able to find the same holes.
6. As it turns out, not only did they find holes, but they punched holes in the running defense whenever they needed them. It took some time – the dolphins ran 75 yards before halftime and 175 after that – but once the dolphins got momentum into the running game, the Patriots had no solutions. The dolphins immediately adhered to it more in the second half, and it paid off again and again. In their first post-intermission possession, the Dolphins’ team walked the field with nine plays – eight of them, including Ahmed’s one-yard run which gave them a 7-6 lead. Dolphins covered 72 yards on the road, 62 on the ground.
7. The Dolphins win because they’re stuck running, and the Patriots, who lost Ja’Whaun Bentley to an arm injury early, had no solutions. Quarterback Toa Tagovilwa put the Dolphins team ahead, 15-9, with a superb lead in third place and a goal of 3 with 12:55 to play. The landing spanned 14 runs and 90 yards that included nine runs for 71 yards, including 31 yards that Ahmed exploded. Taguviloa added a second half to land just over three minutes earlier, giving Miami a 10-point lead (22-12) that would have been 100 as well. Therese Hall was gritty, making 13 tackles (12 solos), but the man, doing this team needs some full back.
8. The infraction was so inappropriate that it got to the point where we wait for the inevitable trilogy to end so we can enjoy watching Jake Bailey Pont. He won the AFC Player of the Year awards last season, but he hasn’t won them this season. It could have happened last week after a performance against Rams that included 71 Yards Punt. He had another lovely couple on this one, including a first-quarter kick that set Miami in 2. Yes, it’s the new fact: The Patriots’ best player may be the gambler.
9. Kicking wasn’t bad either. Nick Falk was the whole foul, going 4-to-4 on field aiming attempts and stretching his string to 25 straight shots, which is his best career. Folk, 36, did well for a man who scored 55 percent of his 2017 field goals, was out of NFL at 18, was the last time he kicked in the Arizona Hotshots from the NFL, and they got the call just last year after Mike Nugent blew the test.
10. One of the things that I was hoping to see on Sunday and that I wanted to see during the last two matches is an apparent attempt to engage the narrow endings of rookie Dalton Kane and Devin Asia. Both were active on Sundays, but were again either afterthought or ineffective, and combined for a single hunt (by Kane) for two yards on three goals. Asia dropped a touchable ball with room to run on the second possession. Between them, a pair of third-round selections have masters, both by Kane. There were many factors holding them back – no training camp, injury, or Newton’s inability to find them when they were open – but it’s important to get evidence now on whether either of them can play.
11. At first, it seemed that Taguvilwa might join the long list of rising midfielders who Belechek would disappoint. Dolphins went 95 yards on 15 passes in second possession, chewing 9 minutes 11 seconds on the clock, still ending with a zero on the scoreboard. Taguvilowa, hit by Chase Weinovich, forced a throw into the end zone that the always opportunist JC Jackson shot.
12. It was Jackson’s eighth selection this season, and it was the first glaring example in this game of the kind of fatal errors that young midfielders can make against the teams Belisik coaches. Taguvilwa recovered well, completing 20 of 26 passes for 145 yards and adding a quick touchdown. It’s hard to believe now that this team shut down Justin Herbert just two weeks ago. It’s hard to believe a lot of things right now.