One week after perhaps their most impressive performance of the season, the New England Patriots royally screwed up their playoff seeding in a stunning loss to the Miami Dolphins.
To recap: The Patriots beat the playoff-bound Buffalo Bills in convincing fashion in Week 16. and lost to the 5-11 Dolphins eight days later. New England now has to play in the wild-card round of the playoffs through no fault but their own for the first time in 10 years.
Good luck predicting which team will show up Saturday when the Patriots take on the Tennessee Titans, or the next week if the Patriots make it to the divisional round. Or the next week, or two weeks after that.
But one thing is for sure: the Patriots’ playoff path got considerably bumpier after Sunday’s loss and they have a tough road ahead.
Here are our top takeaways from Sunday’s loss. All stats via Pro Football Focus.
Tom Brady went 16-of-29. Of Brady’s 13 incompletions, three were drops. Brady’s accuracy rate was 65.5 percent. Wide receivers N’Keal Harry, Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu dropped passes.
Brady was 1-of-2 for 50 yards on deep passes.
Brady was pressured on just 16.7 passes. He was 2-of-4 for 58 yards with a drop while under pressure. He admitted after the game that his pick-six was just a bad throw. It was a really bad throw. Brady played much better in the second half.
LT Isaiah Wynn: clean
LG Joe Thuney: clean
C Ted Karras: clean
RG Shaq Mason: clean
RT Marcus Cannon: sack, hurry
RB Rex Burkhead: hurry
QB Tom Brady: hurry
TE Ben Watson: clean
TE Matt LaCosse: clean
RB Sony Michel: clean
— The Patriots’ offensive line had one of their best performances of the season. Former New England practice squad defensive end Trent Harris beat Cannon for the Dolphins’ only sack.
WR N’Keal Harry: 15 yards after contact per attempt, forced missed tackle
RB Rex Burkhead: 5.5 yards after contact per attempt, three forced missed tackles
RB James White: 3 yards after contact per attempt
RB Sony Michel: 2.72 yards after contact per attempt, five forced missed tackles
LB Elandon Roberts: forced missed tackle
— Harry is a wide receiver, but he should absolutely be getting more opportunities rushing the ball.
— The Patriots’ rushing attack was successful yet again this week. It was kind of an odd game since New England ran the ball well. Brady had a decent second half, and the Patriots’ defense only gave up 17 points. They should have won, but Brady threw a pick-six, cornerback Stephon Gilmore had his worst game of the season (we’ll get into that soon), the Patriots gave away potential points before the half and the defense couldn’t finish in the red zone.
CB Stephon Gilmore: seven catches on nine targets for 119 yards, PBU
CB Jonathan Jones: 5-5, 61 yards
CB JC Jackson: 6-8, 52 yards
S Patrick Chung: 5-8, 46 yards, TD, PBU
FS Devin McCourty: 2-4, 19 yards
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 1-1, 18 yards
LB Kyle Van Noy: 1-2, 11 yards
CB Joejuan Williams: 1-2, 9 yards
FS Duron Harmon: 1-2, 5 yards, PBU
WR Matthew Slater: 0-1
LB Shilique Calhoun: 0-1
DT Adam Butler: 0-1
— Gilmore’s performance was relatively shocking. He blanked Dolphins top wideout DeVante Parker in teams’ first matchup this season, and he gave up over 100 yards 15 weeks later. Bizarre.
Chung also didn’t play particularly well, and Jones and Jackson haven’t been as dangerous in recent weeks.
The Patriots will have to hope their secondary can revert back to its early-season performance for the postseason.
LB Jamie Collins: sack, four hurries
LB Kyle Van Noy: five hurries
DE Deatrich Wise: five hurries
LB Dont’a Hightower: QB hit, three hurries
DT Lawrence Guy: sack, two hurries
LB John Simon: QB hit, two hurries
LB Chase Winovich: two hurries
DT Adam Butler: QB hit, hurry
FS Devin McCourty: hurry
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: hurry
LB Elandon Roberts: hurry
— The Patriots blitzed Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on 18 of his 41 dropbacks. He went 11-of-18 for 147 yards while blitzed. Fitzpatrick was 11-of-18 for 101 yards with a touchdown while under pressure.
The Patriots were able to get past the Dolphins’ offensive line and to Fitzpatrick, but ultimately it didn’t produce the desired results of forcing him to make mistakes.
LB Kyle Van Noy: three stops
LB John Simon: three stops
DE Deatrich Wise: three stops, missed tackle
LB Jamie Collins: three stops, two missed tackles
DT Lawrence Guy: stop
DT Danny Shelton: stop
S Patrick Chung: stop
CB JC Jackson: stop
CB Joejuan Williams: stop
S Duron Harmon: stop, missed tackle
LB Dont’a Hightower: stop, two missed tackles
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: two missed tackles
LB Shilique Calhoun: missed tackle
CB Jonathan Jones: missed tackle
— The Dolphins can’t really run the ball, and the Patriots did a nice job of stopping them on the ground, holding Miami to 63 yards on 22 carries.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.