Patriots Vs. Dolphins Live: New England Eliminated From Playoffs With 22-12 Loss

Full coverage of Pats-Dolphins


December 20, 2020

Final, Dolphins 22-12: The Miami Dolphins officially eliminated the New England Patriots from playoff contention Sunday, riding a dominant ground game to a 22-12 victory at Hard Rock Stadium.

New England allowed a season-high 250 rushing yards in the loss, which dropped Bill Belichick?s club to 6-8 on the season. Offensively, the Patriots failed to score a touchdown for the second consecutive game, managing just four Nick Folk field goals. 

It?s the first time the Patriots have lost more than seven games since 2000, when they went 5-11 in Belichick?s first year with the team. They had made the playoffs each year since 2008. 

Jakobi Meyers led all receivers with seven catches for 111 yards. Sony Michel, starting in place of an injured Damien Harris, averaged 7.4 yards per carry for New England, finishing with 74 on 10 attempts. Cam Newton completed 17 of 27 passes for 209 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions and was sacked four times.

Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa became the first rookie quarterback to beat the Patriots since 2013. Tagovailoa finished with just 145 passing yards but scored two rushing touchdowns. The Dolphins were without their top three receivers (DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and Preston Williams), top running back (Myles Gaskin) and top tight end (Mike Gesicki).

Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, edge rusher John Simon and center David Andrews all left the game with injuries.

The Patriots will close out the season with home matchups against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

Fourth quarter, 3:17, Dolphins 22-12: Touchdown, Dolphins.

The Patriots trail by 10 with less than four minutes remaining. Barring a late comeback, Tua Tagovailoa will become the first rookie quarterback to beat the Patriots since 2013.

Fourth quarter, 9:03, Dolphins 15-12: Sony Michel quietly is averaging 7.4 yards per carry today (74 on 10 attempts) and Nick Folk remains red-hot. He just drilled his fourth field goal to pull the Patriots to within three.

Fourth quarter, 12:55, Dolphins 15-9: The Dolphins continue to batter the Patriots on the ground, and they’ve reclaimed the lead.

Tua Tagovaila capped a 14-play, 90-yard drive by scrambling 3 yards for a touchdown on third-and-goal. J.C. Jackson had a bead on the Dolphins QB but jumped, allowing Tagovailoa to scoot away.

Miami is up to 188 rushing yards on the day. It added a successful two-point conversion — on a hook-and-ladder — to go up by six.

Third quarter, 4:20, Patriots 9-7: Cam Newton delivered a strike to Jakobi Meyers for 35 yards, then juked out Emmanuel Ogbah on an 11-yard carry to set up Nick Folk’s third field goal of the game, a 45-yarder.

He’ll want to have his fumble back, but this has been a productive game for Meyers, who’s up to 88 yards on six catches against a talented Dolphins secondary.

J.J. Taylor also received his first carry since Week 3 earlier in the series and drew an illegal contact penalty after lining up as a receiver and running a deep route.

Third quarter, 7:36, Dolphins 7-6: The Dolphins couldn’t turn Jakobi Meyers’ fumble into points.

New England’s defense held on third-and-long, and the successful fake punt that followed was wiped out by an ineligible man downfield penalty.

The Patriots will take over on their own 8-yard line.

Third quarter, 9:46, Dolphins 7-6: You can see why Miami entered today tied for the NFL lead in takeaways.

Xavien Howard just punched the ball out of Jakobi Meyers’ hands, resulting in a fumble that Elandon Roberts recovered. It was the second time a Patriots player has had the ball dislodged like that (Cam Newton in the first half).

Better ball-security is a must for New England against this aggressive Dolphins defense.

Also, the Patriots announced linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (arm) will not return. No official word yet on Stephon Gilmore.

Third quarter, 10:32, Dolphins 7-6: The Dolphins are on the board.

Miami opened the second half with a nine-play touchdown drive that featured just one pass. The Patriots have allowed 122 rushing yards to a Dolphins team that’s missing its leading rusher (Myles Gaskin).

Halftime, Patriots 6-0: Tua Tagovailoa guided the Dolphins into distant field-goal range in the final seconds of the first half, but Jason Sanders pushed a 52-yard attempt wide left.

The Patriots’ defense is pitching a shutout thus far, but Stephon Gilmore’s injury is a major concern, both for the team and for the cornerback himself, who is set to make a below-market salary of just $7 million in 2021.

Patriots linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley also has yet to return.

Miami will receive the second-half kickoff.

Second quarter, 2:00, Patriots 6-0: Stephon Gilmore was just taken to the locker room with a knee injury.

The star cornerback slid awkwardly on the Hard Rock Stadium turf away from the play. It was a non-contact injury, which always is a worrisome sign.

Gilmore, last year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year, missed three games with a knee injury earlier this season. He had to be helped down the tunnel by two Patriots staffers.

The Patriots quickly announced Gilmore is doubtful to return. Expect veteran Jason McCourty to take over his spot. Reserve defensive back Joejuan Williams is inactive today.

Second quarter, 4:15, Patriots 6-0: The Patriots narrowly avoided disaster on their latest possession.

Cam Newton fumbled while scrambling for a first down, and Xavien Howard scooped the ball up and returned it for a touchdown.

The play was reviewed, however, and replays revealed the ball had touched the leg of defensive tackle Christian Wilkins while Wilkins was out of bounds. That resulted in a dead ball and allowed New England to maintain possession.

Nick Folk kicked a 36-yard field goal one play later to extend the Patriots’ lead. A gigantic break for Newton and Co.

Newton found James White for a first down on an impressive scramble drill earlier in the drive but missed multiple open receivers, including Jakobi Meyers in the end zone.

The Patriots forced a three-and-out on Miami’s previous possession, with Adrian Phillips running over running back Salvon Ahmed to record his first career sack.

Starting linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley is questionable to return with an arm injury.

Second quarter, 8:50, Patriots 3-0: A 45-yard Nick Folk field goal put the Patriots on the board. Folk has not missed a field goal since Week 2.

Cam Newton made some nice plays with his legs during the Patriots’ latest drive, picking up two first downs and ripping off an 8-yard run on first-and-10.

Folk came onto the field after Newton and N’Keal Harry failed to connect on third-and-3. Newton’s pass was off the mark, but it hit Harry in the hands. It also looked like Harry might have stopped his route, leading Newton to believe he’d be in a different spot. We’ll have to take a look at the coaches film on that one.

Newton also nearly threw an interception to linebacker Kyle Van Noy earlier in the driv.e

Second quarter, 15:00, 0-0: J.C. Jackson said this week he was motivated to catch Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who leads the NFL in interception.

He just narrowed that gap.

Jackson capped a 95-yard Dolphins drive by intercepting an errant Tua Tagovailoa pass in the end zone — the eighth pick of the season for the Patriots cornerback. Howard leads the league with nine.

Credit Chase Winovich with an assist. He beat his block to drill Tagovailoa and cause his pass to flutter.

Huge momentum swing for the Patriots’ defense.

First quarter, 9:11, 0-0: A drop by Devin Asiasi (on a less-than-perfect throw by Cam Newton) followed by another unsuccessful screen pass killed a promising Patriots drive.

Jake Bailey, Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel teamed up to pin Miami at its own 2-yard line.

First quarter, 11:30, 0-0: The Patriots went backward on their opening drive, losing 3 yards before punting. They tried a wide receiver screen to Damiere Byrd on third down that was blown up, continuing a trend that’s plagued this offense for much of the season.

Of note: Justin Herron is starting at left tackle today over Jermaine Eluemunor.

New England’s defense responded with a three-and-out of its own, capped by a great tackle in space by Shilique Calhoun.

Calhoun, who’s in his first game back from injured reserve, chased down Patrick Laird and wrapped him up just short of the marker.

First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Dolphins won the opening coin toss and deferred. Gunner Olszewski is back deep for the opening kickoff with Donte Moncrief out.

11:30 a.m.: Here are today’s Patriots inactives:

Joejuan Williams is a mild surprise, as this is his first healthy scratch of the season. The versatile DB locked down Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki in Week 1 but has hardly seen the field since then, playing more than 10 defensive snaps in just three of New England’s 13 games.

As Williams takes a seat, safety Terrence Brooks draws back into the lineup after back-to-back healthy scratches. Running back J.J. Taylor, who has not played since Week 2, also is active with Damien Harris down.

Speaking of Gesicki, the Dolphins will be down each of their top three pass-catchers today. Gesicki, DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant all are inactive, as is starting Miami left guard Ereck Flowers.

Ex-Patriot Isaiah Ford, who was elevated from the practice squad for this game, suddenly becomes Miami’s most productive receiver. He’ll be joined by rookies Lynn Bowden and Malcolm Perry — both of whom played quarterback last season and drew pre-draft interest from the Patriots — and special teamer Mack Hollins.

Certainly not an ideal setup for Tua Tagovailoa, who already was facing a stiff challenge against a New England team that hasn’t lost to a rookie quarterback since 2013.

9 a.m. ET: The New England Patriots are in Miami today for their 14th game of the 2020 NFL season, a rematch of their Week 1 win over the AFC East rival Dolphins.

The Patriots sit at 6-7 and would be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with another loss. The 8-5 Dolphins are looking to maintain their grip on the AFC’s third and final wild-card spot.

New England will be without leading rusher Damien Harris and wide receiver/kick returner Donte Moncrief, both of whom were ruled out Saturday. An additional 12 Patriots players are listed as questionable:

DT Adam Butler (shoulder)
DT Byron Cowart (back)
OT Jermaine Eluemunor (ankle)
K Nick Folk (back)
DT Lawrence Guy (shoulder)
OL Justin Herron (ankle)
CB J.C. Jackson (knee)
CB Jonathan Jones (neck)
G Shaq Mason (calf)
WR Matthew Slater (knee)
RB J.J. Taylor (quadricep)
RB James White (foot)

Nine Dolphins players are questionable:

RB Salvon Ahmed (shoulder)
LB Jerome Baker (knee)
G Ereck Flowers (ankle)
TE Mike Gesicki (shoulder)
WR Jakeem Grant (hamstring)
S Bobby McCain (ankle)
WR DeVante Parker (hamstring)
LB Elandon Roberts (chest)
LB Kyle Van Noy (hip)

Inactives will be announced at 11:30 a.m. ET. Kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium is set for 1 p.m. ET.

Click the link below to read our full game preview, and follow along throughout the day for up-to-the-minute pre- and in-game analysis.

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