The New England Patriots were officially eliminated from the 2020 NFL postseason with Sunday’s 22-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots actually were favored over the Dolphins right before kickoff after wide receiver DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki were declared inactive. New England still couldn’t beat its AFC East rivals, and it will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Here’s what we learned about the Patriots as they fell to 6-8 on the season, guaranteeing they won’t finish above .500 for the first time since 2000.
PATRIOTS NEED UPGRADES IN FRONT SEVEN
The Dolphins were down all of their starting skill-position players (Parker, Gesicki, running back Myles Gaskin and wide receivers Preston Williams and Jakeem Grant). It didn’t matter on the ground.
Miami ran the ball 42 times for 250 yards with three touchdowns. Rookie running back Salvon Ahmed, who began the season on the practice squad, ran 23 times for 122 yards with a score. Matt Breida, who’s struggled in his first season with the Dolphins, ran 12 times for 86 yards.
The Patriots need to fortify their front seven with stouter linebackers and defensive linemen this offseason.
PATRIOTS TIGHT ENDS DON’T GAIN ANY GROUND
Rookie tight end Dalton Keene caught one 3-yard pass on two targets and fumbled. Fellow rookie tight end Devin Asiasi dropped his only target.
Wide receiver N’Keal Harry, a 2019 first-round pick, caught just one 12-yard pass. Fellow second-year wideout Jakobi Meyers led the team with seven catches for 111 yards with a lost fumble on 10 targets.
Quarterback Cam Newton went 17-of-27 for 209 yards and was sacked three times.
SPECIAL TEAMS IS STILL KING
Patriots kicker Nick Folk was 4-of-4 on field-goal attempts and put up every point his team earned.
New England’s punt coverage team might be their best overall unit. The Dolphins weren’t able to return either of Jake Bailey’s punts. Miami started from their own 22- and 2-yard lines after punts.
The Patriots seem to win the field-position game every week. Most times, that hasn’t mattered on the scoreboard.
JC JACKSON REMAINS A BALL HAWK
The Patriots third-year defender intercepted his eighth pass of the season. He wasn’t perfect, letting up four catches on six targets for 34 yards with the pick, but his ability to make a play on the ball has been incredible this season.
Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went 20-of-26 for just 145 yards with no touchdowns and the interception.
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore left Sunday’s game with what was officially called a knee injury. Gilmore might have actually injured his hamstring on the non-contact injury.
Gilmore is due just a $7 million salary next season. He was expected to get a raise or traded after the season. If it’s a severe knee injury, who knows what will happen with the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. It’s really unfortunate timing for Gilmore, who has been the Patriots’ best defender for three straight seasons.