When the Patriots play in Miami at the end of the season, expect things to be a little weird

Patriot

The Patriots are 2-8 ahead of 2000 against the Dolphins in Miami since December 1.

Kenyan Drake and Dolphins stun the 34-33-year-old Patriots in Miami in December 2018. Jim Davis

Welcome to Season 10, Episode 17 of Unorthodox Preview, a serious yet light-hearted, nostalgic-hued look at the Patriots’ weekly matchup.

Oh, this is going to be weird. These late-season Patriots-Dolphins matchups almost always do the trick, no matter the time.

Especially when there is a Miami background.

In Bill Belichick’s 22 seasons as coach, the Patriots are 10–11 with the Dolphins in the December/January game. In games in Miami, given the Patriots’ overall consistent excellence during that period and their habit of playing their best football late in the season, it’s almost impossibly bad: The Patriots went 2-8 against the Dolphins from December 1, 2000. Since then.

Some of the strangest games of this Patriots era have happened in Miami during the final quarter of the season. Some had major consequences, and some were a minor pothole in the road for the Duck Boat Parade. A sample:

Week 15, 2004: Dolphins 29, Patriots 28. The Patriots went 12–1 and won the AFC East. The Dolphins were 2–11 and had the worst record in the AFC. But AJ Feely found Darius Thompson on fourth-down heve for a 21-yard touchdown, with 1 minute 23 seconds remaining, and the Dolphins pulled off the mess of the season against a team that was about to win their third Super Bowl. in four seasons.

Week 17, 2005: Dolphins 28, Patriots 26. The Patriots rested many starters, putting themselves in a not-so-secret position to play the dangerous Jaguars in the wild-card round. Matt Cassell threw a touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson at the end of regulation to draw the Patriots to within 2, but left a 2-point conversion effort unfinished. It may be the least disappointing loss of Belichick’s Patriots career.

Week 17, 2015: Dolphins 20, Patriots 10. This was perhaps the most intriguing strategic approach of Belichick’s Patriots career. There were real stakes in this game—the Patriots had a chance at the No. 1 seed—but Belichick and his staff took all kinds of half-measures, starting Tom Brady, resting some starters, but not the first. Tried to protect them by running at 16. 18 plays. The Patriots faced Peyton Manning and the Broncos on the road in the AFC Championship Game, losing 20–18, in one of the more valiant performances in Brady’s career defeat.

Week 14, 2018: Dolphins 34, Patriots 33. Ah yeah, ol’ pass and double-lateral that culminated in Kenyan Drake overtaking the Patriots free safety [checks notes] Rob Gronkowski in the corner of the end field on the final game. rescue rescue didn’t stop.

So, yes, history suggests it may have emerged victorious in some way. While Dolphins coach Brian Flores, a branch of the Belichick coaching tree that doesn’t bang its head on all other branches, would love to improve his record to 4-2 against his former boss, there is no real bet on the ending other than pride. for dolphins.

There are football bets for the Patriots, and they should be very well read about for what they are by the time afternoon play begins. The three teams ahead of him in the AFC playoff standings (the Chiefs, Bengals and Titans playing Saturday night) play against him this weekend.

The Patriots can still win the AFC East if they win and lose to the Bill Jets in a game that is played side-by-side with the Patriots-Dolphins, but since counting on the Jets has anyone found happiness?

Get it started, Bailey, and let’s get it started…

Three players I’m looking for besides QB

Ramondre Stevenson: Damien Harris, who has been battling a hamstring injury since the first Bills game, is better off resting on Sunday to try to avenge the blunder that cost the Patriots the season opener. This probably means a bigger workload for Stevenson—and a chance to avenge his own misconduct. Remember, he too stumbled into losing to the Dolphins, and this put him in the Steven Ridley Fumblers Purgatory for a few weeks by Belichick. Stevenson played just five snaps in the opener, then didn’t get another until Week 5 against the Texans, when he ran for 23 yards on 11 carries. Stevenson has since emerged as part of a dynamic, hard-running 1-2 punch with Harris, posting his first 100-yard game en route to the Browns in Week 10, 78 significant yards in Week 13. Won. at Buffalo, and rushing 19 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns in his best performance last Sunday against the Jaguars. Stevenson enters the regular-season finale with 572 rushing yards. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Stevenson eclipses the 700-yard mark for the season on Sunday against Miami’s 11th-ranked run defense (108.3 yards per game).

Jacobi Meyers: Back in Week 1, the receiver didn’t bowl big numbers (six catches, 49 yards), but just about every play he made, and he immediately established himself as any rookie quarterback Mac Jones could bend. Meyers’ four catches in the opener resulted in third-down conversions, including a 22-yarder and 6 plays on the third, when the Dolphins sent Jones home. Meyers has been Mr. Reliable for Jones ever since. In addition to the Buffalo Outliers when the Patriots passed just three times, Meyers had at least four goals in every game, including two games each of 12 goals (Buccaneers, Colts) and one in 14 (Saints). He had one catch for 8 yards against the Panthers, but he had at least four receptions in every other game, with a high of nine against the Saints. He doesn’t have a 100-yard game, but he has at least two of the 94 yards, and because of that week-to-week consistency, he ends the season with more than 80 catches and over 800 yards. Almost certain to do. Consider it a compliment to a player who is making himself the quintessentially smart, reliable patriot.

Jaylen Waddle: The Patriots found out what this talented receiver from Alabama was up to early on. The rest is from the league onwards. Waddell took four catches for 61 yards against the Patriots in his NFL debut, including a 17-yarder on the first play from scrimmage, a 36-yarder that helped set a field goal, and a 3-yard TD reception that hit the Dolphins. Kept forward to start the second half. That game was the first scene of an exceptional rookie year – his next catch would be his 100th catch, and he would need 12 yards to reach 1,000. Last week he was named Dan Marino Most Valuable Player. Think the prize for this is a pair of Isotoner gloves?

complaint of the week

A minor complaint, I know, but did anyone else moan on Monday when the NFL announced it was moving the game from 1 to 4:25? If I could, I’d start at 1 p.m. for everything, including the Super Bowl, all World Series games, and heck, even “Saturday Night Live.”

key matching

Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa vs. Patriots Pass Defense

Here’s a question: How would you rate the future prospects of three current NFL quarterbacks who were teammates on Alabama’s 2017 national championship team?

Without hesitation, I would order them like this: Jones, Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa. And there’s a decent-sized gap between them, Jones has the most job security and the best position, the Hurts are slowly winning over the skeptics in Philadelphia, and Tagovailoa holds his quarterback of the future status with the Dolphins. But in only 22 games, he has made a weak hold. in his career.

Tagovailoa was actually the most liked of the three, going to No. 5 overall for the Dolphins in the 2020 draft, a pick before the Chargers picked Justin Herbert, a decision that is looking at regrettable, Tagovailoa is not a bust, but his limits regarding the strength of his arm have become clear. He averaged 7.0 yards per attempt, 19th in the NFL and only 10.3 yards per completion, tied with Jaguars rookie Trevor Lawrence in 27th place.

Tagovailoa, who has thrown for 2,544 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, has had some modest success operating the run-pass option, and he is actually 2-0 against the Patriots as a starter. In the 14th week last season, he was good enough for 20 for 26 for 145 yards with an interception in the Dolphins’ 22-12 win. In the Dolphins’ 17-16 win to start the season, he was low-skilled 16 of 27 for 202 yards, with one touchdown and one pick.

Overall, the Dolphins’ play rate at 221.8 yards per game ranks 16th in the NFL. With four interceptions and five fumbles (one loser) in the last three games, Tagovailoa has been plagued by fault lately. Patriots cornerback Jesse Jackson picked him on week 14 last year. That opportunity should come Sunday for Jackson, who has nine interceptions this season for the Patriots’ fourth-ranked near defense (192.4 yards per game), to continue his ballhawking manner.

Prophecy, or Nat Moore was not Stanley Morgan…

It’s been 17 weeks since the Patriots lost to the Dolphins, but that early defeat is still somewhat behind them.

Had they won that game – and assuming everything went the way and order afterwards – they would have entered this weekend with an 11-5 record (tied with Titans and Chiefs) and Will keep an inside track at No. Seed.

Instead, they are almost certainly going to end up as a wild-card team. One loss can make such a difference, and the first loss of the season happens.

The Patriots were muddy throughout the game, fumbling four times (losing two), going 1 for 4 in the red zone, and scoring eight penalties. The defense also failed to take up the offense and stalled after Harris’ misadventure.

It is a crucial Sunday that the Patriots show that they have permanently reduced the physical and mental mistakes they have made in the opener and at other times mixed this season, against the Bills just two weeks ago.

There won’t be many surprises. The Patriots know that the Dolphins will attack Jones. The Dolphins know the Patriots will try to set up a run. The Patriots’ defense should have little trouble with the Dolphins’ offense, which averages only 85.8 rushing yards per game. They know Tagovailoa will rely on Waddell and unhelpful tight end Mike Gesicki in a limited passing game.

The Patriots don’t need to avenge their first week’s loss. After all, those are the teams that will have at least one more game after Sunday. But it would be wise for them to play with more discipline than that day. The playoffs are pointed, and undisciplined teams don’t get to stay around for very long. Patriots 24, Dolphins 20.