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Home » Patriots Secure Playoff Spot with Win Over Dolphins

Patriots Secure Playoff Spot with Win Over Dolphins

02 January 2023, Monday
Gillette Stadium was tranquil on Sunday afternoon, a fitting representation of the Patriots' current season. Instead of the regular dominance they had achieved with Tom Brady, they are headed towards insignificance. The offense was stagnant once again, and all were eager to see something to prevent the Dolphins from putting an end to the Patriots' season.

There will definitely be months of the offseason to discuss the fact that the Patriots' current manner of playing football is far from sustainable. That, instead of being propelled by an offensive that contributes consistently, they have to be saved every week by their defense. That was the case again in the 23-21 victory over the Dolphins. Kyle Dugger's 39-yard pick-six in the third quarter surely spurred the team and the fans alike. Now, due to their own accomplishments, the Patriots control their own destiny and qualify for the postseason if they beat the Bills in Buffalo next week.

The Patriots have been incredibly impressive this season, scoring seven defensive touchdowns in four consecutive games. After a Saturday night discussion among the defense about needing to get points, it appears that the defense has been masking an offense that has only scored more than two offensive touchdowns in two games this year.
On Sunday, the offense did just enough to get the win - an 11-play, 89-yard fourth-quarter drive was capped off with a 1-yard touchdown reception by Jakobi Meyers. It is clear that when the season eventually ends, the decision of who will lead the offense in 2021 will be critical.

The Patriots have rarely been able to score touchdowns as easily as they did this time, making their touchdown all the more impactful. This was due to the fact that it was the first time their offense was able to match the intensity and level of play put forth by their defense throughout the game.

"When I arrived, I was really motivated because I knew our defense was so good," declared quarterback Mac Jones, who completed 20 of 33 attempts for 203 yards and two TD passes. "We've got to do better offensively. We've said that a lot. At the end of the day, though, we just have to keep trying to win, play together, be able to finish strong, and score more points so our defense isn't having to carry us."

This is a classic Bill Belichick-inspired defense-first team, and it was evident in their successful containment of the NFL's most dynamic receiver pair during their latest outing. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle mustered only 55 and 52 receiving yards, respectively, the least they had combined for since Week 5. Tua Tagovailoa's absence can be attributed to some of the struggles in the air, but the team's problems were exacerbated when Teddy Bridgewater injured his finger, leaving Skylar Thompson to fill in.

The Dolphins put up a good fight as they drove for a late touchdown, but Hunter Henry had to recover an onside kick in order for the Patriots to secure the win. As a result, the Gillette Stadium crowd was brought back to its usual roar.

"We just need to find ways to come out on top," McCourty said. "We don't know the plan yet, but this is the time of the year when we need to figure it out. I can't remember which game it was after or before, but I'm certain we don't have the type of people in the locker room who will give up easily."

This season has been a difficult one for the Patriots, having lost four of their last five games and with their playoff chances on the line. There are questions concerning why head coach Bill Belichick entrusted the development of quarterback Jarrett Stidham and the offense to Matt Patricia, a former defensive coordinator. This has raised questions about whether Stidham is the team's long-term answer at quarterback. Despite a late push for the playoffs, these queries still linger.

Just before the Patriots sealed their win, Brady clinched yet another division title in Tampa, despite a rather poor season for him. It's been a while since the Patriots were only concerned about gaining home-field advantage, something that Brady had typically achieved by that time. His mark on New England's football scene is still huge.

In the post-Brady era, the New England Patriots are in for a new kind of experience. The days of dominance are behind them, but they are now learning to be resilient. On Sunday, they demonstrated this in a big way. Even if they make it to the playoffs next week, it may be still be an upset, but the Patriots are now living the same kind of day-to-day struggle their opponents have been dealing with for years. It might be disappointing, but it could also still be quite surprising.

"Football is a lot like the game of life," remarked David Andrews, the center. "You're going to come across some tough times, you'll get back up and keep on pushing. It teaches you a lot about yourself and your teammates."
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