It was a good run.
On this day, the metaphorical tombstone officially read, “Patriots, 2001-2019.”
On this afternoon, the Patriots’ historic run and one of the best dynasties in all of sports came to an end. The departure of Tom Brady combined with losing multiple defensive starters has officially led to the worst Patriots season since 2000, when Bill Belichick took over. This was signaled when the Buffalo Bills clinched the AFC East, on Saturday, for the first time in 25 years.
The notion was stamped with approval by the Miami Dolphins as they ran over the Patriots, delivering the former Kings of the AFC East a 22-12 defeat. This loss drops the Patriots to 6-8 and officially crushes any playoff hopes they still might have had.
This season, the Patriots fell behind two AFC East opponents (the Bills and Dolphins) for the first time in 20 years. They won’t finish first or second in the division for the first time since 2000. They’ll miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Both seasons were the last two seasons Brady wasn’t the starting quarterback.
Now, the Patriots will focus on the future. They’re behind two divisional opponents, both who have their franchise quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa. The Pats will undoubtedly search for their own next offseason.
Of course, you can’t put all the Patriots’ problems on the shoulders of quarterback Cam Newton (who threw for 208 yards Sunday). The Patriots have a laundry list of issues with this 2020 team. The offense is subpar and that was seen Sunday as the group failed to score a single touchdown. Jakobi Meyers (111 receiving yards) looks to have a bright future but the offense needs more weapons next season.
They also need a better defensive line. Against Miami, the Pats, once again, failed to stop the run. The Dolphins went into this game last in the NFL in yards per carry (3.63) and proceeded to run for 242 yards against the Patriots. Miami scored three rushing touchdowns against the Pats on Sunday.
The Pats made it close in the first half but allowed all 22 points scored in the second half.
Tagovailoa ran for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to seal the win to keep the Dolphins on track for their first playoff berth since 2016. The Dolphins are guaranteed to make the playoffs with wins in their final two regular-season games.
New England was led by Nick Folk, who made four field goals.
In addition, the Patriots lost cornerback Stephon Gilmore — the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year --to a knee injury in the second quarter; he did not return.
New England also lost starting linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (arm injury).
The Patriots failed to get into the end zone for the third straight game, and they could not rally. Tagovailoa scored a 3-yard, go-ahead TD with 12:55 left before Folk kicked a 42-yard field goal with 9:07 left to cut the Miami lead to 15-12. Tagovailoa put the game away with a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 3:17 remaining.