Dolphins secure winning season and sweep rival Patriots in finale – The Mercury News

The Miami Dolphins’ season isn’t heading into the post season, but it ended on a high note and ended with a win that secured a sweep of an opponent who had dominated their division over the past two decades.

Win in the finale over the New England Patriots, 33-24 on Sunday evening at Hard Rock Stadium Many wondered what could have happened if the dolphins hadn’t missed many opportunities, like falling off the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars during a 1-7 start.

Instead the Dolphins were preoccupied with playoff contention when they took the field against the Patriots after an embarrassing loss to the Tennessee Titans last Sunday, but they left to make something going into the off-season. .

“I am proud of this team,” said Dolphins coach Brian Flores. “I am proud of his fighting skills, his resilience, his ability to fight adversity. We had our ups and downs. This is a year that I will definitely remember.”

Miami (9-8) won for the first time in a row since 2003 After finishing 10-6 last year. The Dolphins completed the Patriots’ season sweep for the first time since 2000, after winning the season opener at Foxboro. They have won three consecutive series with New England and four of their last five.

The Patriots (10–7), who have already secured a playoff spot by entering the final week, are the AFC’s No. 6 seed following the Las Vegas Raiders’ overtime win against the Los Angeles Chargers on “Sunday Night Football”. After have fallen from No. 5. They move on to face the third seed Buffalo Bills.

Outside the opening drive, the Dolphins did it mostly on the ground – and with the defense scoring twice. Duke Johnson ran for a touchdown on 117 yards and 25 carries.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, now 3-0 in his career against the Patriots and 2-0 against former Alabama teammate Mac Jones, was 15 of 22 for 109 yards, receiving nearly half the passing yardage in the opening series. was doing.

“I never see it as another quarterback versus me,” he said. “It’s always our offense versus their defense. … I don’t really dive into all ‘Me versus Mac.’

“I’m just happy that we can end this season with a win, and we’ll see what’s in store for us this off-season.”

Tagovailoa’s 11-yard scramble was crucial in securing the win after New England’s late rally on third and -8 for the first time less than two minutes, and he finished for 38 yards, including a 23-yard scalper. .

“He scored some big runs in critical conditions, when we needed him, he scored for the first time,” said Flores of Tagovailoa. He said, ‘He threw very good. Thought he swung the ball well, drove the ball well. So he led us and gave us a chance to win the ball game, especially towards the end when we needed a drive. ,

Jones finished 20 of 30 for 261 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Dolphins scored two touchdowns in the first nine minutes to begin Sunday’s action.

First, on the opening drive Where Jaylen Waddell Broke the NFL Rookie Reception Record, he caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa, who took 8 for 8 on Sunday, completed all seven of his passes in the opening series for 54 yards and touchdowns.

A minute and a half later, after a scoring drive of 7:26, Dolphins cornerback Xavian Howard stopped Jones and returned him 37 yards for a touchdown.

“I think the pace changed when we scored on the defense,” Howard said. “Everyone was excited, and after that everyone came to play.”

After leading up to a 17 on 30-yard Jason Sanders field goal, the Patriots scored for the first time in the middle of the second quarter. Running back and ex-Dolphins Brandon Bolden ran 15 yards for a touchdown. Jones had a 35-yard pass and before that Hunter Henry got New England to field the Dolphins.

The Patriots got within a right after a Nick Folk field goal in the middle of the third quarter, 17–10, with Johnson running outside the 1-yard line during a 4:31 period. This put Miami up 24-10.

The Patriots were driving just outside the Miami Red zone when Jones mishandled a photo from down the center for a fumble that was recovered by outside linebacker Jaylen Phillips. This eventually led to another Sanders field goal for a 17-point lead, 27–10.

Bolden scored a receiving touchdown with 6:32 remaining to start the late rally, and Damien Harris scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown with 2:53 to reduce New England’s deficit to three, 27–24. I punched.

In the final game, the Patriots were left with the least amount of time and, after back up, linebacker Sam Aguaven picked up a lateral effort for a defensive touchdown as the season ran out of time.

Dolphins defenders Christian Wilkins and Andrew Van Ginkel had Jones’ sacks on Sunday. With two more in the final, Miami finished the season with 49 sacks, tied for the team record in 1983 and matched in 2005.

Miami picked up a pair of fourth downs against New England while on-field punter Michael Palardi. At first, the Dolphins made a mock run, in which Palardi took advantage of slipping short from the yard, but Bolden was called for a personal foul, though he avoided helmet-to-helmet contact during the dive on Palardi. appeared for. In the final game of the third quarter, New England made an illegal formation, giving Miami a fourth-and-first loss on one.

The Dolphins, having missed the post-season for the fifth consecutive season, will now begin a crucial off-season where they determine whether they move forward with Tagovailoa or pursue a top-tier quarterback. To do Prominent free agents such as defensive end Emmanuel Ogba and tight end Mike Gesicki And find out how to fix an offensive line that struggled most of the season.