Turnovers, Johnson’s Rushing Difference in Win Against Patriots
The Dolphins forced three turnovers, including two for scores. Duke Johnson’s 25 rushes for 117 yards led a rushing attack that helped Miami have a 33:36 to 26:24 edge in time of possession. It was just enough to hold off the Patriots, 33-24.
Miami’s 43 rushes for 195 yards were enough to protect Tua Tagovailoa. Tua only had to throw five passes in the second half. He was only 14-22 for 109 yards and a seven yard touchdown to Jaylen Waddle for the game.
Quick Start Helps Continue Miami Magic
With 11:53 gone in the game Miami was already up 17-0. The biggest play was Xavien Howard’s 37 yard interception return for a score on third and two. Mac Jones, who had a fumble inside the Dolphins 25 as well, was bated into the pick by Howard.
The Dolphins also had a 17 point lead at 27-10, which helped limit the Patriots abiltiy to run the ball. It also gave Miami enough of a cushion to hold off a late New England rally. Drives of 75 and 76 yards in the fourth quarter enabled the Patriots to to cut the lead to 27-24.
Tua Does Enough to Help the Seal the Win
A 15 yard pass to Durham Smythe and an 11 yard run on third and eight were Tua’s two biggest plays in the second half. It helped the Dolphins run off all but the last fourteen seconds of the game. Pinned at their own two yard line New England would fumble a lateral. Miami pounced on it in the end zone for the final margin.
The win made Brian Flores 4-2 against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, including the last three games. The Dolphins clinched back to back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-03, and the first season sweep of New England since 2000.
Win Leads to Huge Offseason
For all that Miami did well the defense still gave up nearly five yards a rush and 134 on the ground. Tua averaged less than five yards an attempt. The Dolphins only sacked Mac Jones twice, and he didn’t face much pressure overall.
Keeping Duke Johnson, who was crucial in Miami’s last wins, certainly could not hurt the Dolphins running game. There are still a lot of question at running back outside of him. Wide Receiver, the offensive line, edge rusher, and running stopping defensive linemen and line backers, need to be addressed in the draft and free agency.
With as much as ninety million dollars of cap space there is definitely a potential to fill many of these holes. Given how many areas of need there are for Miami management must spend wisely. The Dolphins also have fewer draft picks than the past two years. The offensive line in particular must be improved for Tua and the offense to take steps forward. It also would go a long way towards making the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and Flores keeping his job.
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