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5 takeaways from the Patriots’ crucial late-season win over the Dolphins

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New England headed into the regular season finale and qualified for the playoffs.

Matthew Judon celebrates the Patriots’ victory over the Dolphins. Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The Patriots beat the Dolphins 23-21 on Sunday, keeping their playoff hopes alive with one week left in the regular season.

New England went 8-8 and scored an important victory with a timely offense and effective defense.

Here are some takeaways:

The offense struggled again but played enough to win.

Mack Jones finished the game 20-of-33 for 203 passing yards with two touchdowns. He was able to avoid turnovers — an underrated achievement in the context of the game — and showed some of his abilities when given time in the pocket.

Still, it was a far from ideal display from New England. Jones and the Patriots were sidelined for most of the third quarter after scoring on the first possession. It was a stretch that included four punts and a sequence at the end of the half where the offense ran out of time.

Much of the problem stemmed from the offensive line struggles, which also consistently failed to defend Jones. Miami was able to generate pressure, recording two sacks and four quarterback hits.

If the Patriots face the Bills in Week 18, Jones and the offense will have to find a more consistent way.

The defense produced turnovers and made a difference to victory.

While the Patriots were facing Dolphins backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (and finished with three-stringer Skyler Thompson), they had some challenges against Miami. The biggest of these was an injury to the Patriots’ secondary, losing their trio of cornerbacks while facing a speedy Dolphins duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

In the end, Waddle had 52 yards on three catches and Hill had 55 yards on four passes. Neither player was completely shut out, but New England’s Patchwork He was a promising display from the secondary. Jonathan his Jones produced a turnover when Hill bobbled a pass into the fourth quarter.

In the end, it was the turnovers that proved the difference in the game. In addition to Jones’ interception, Kyle Duggar’s pick 6 for his 39-yard was a momentum play.

New England even added a third interception if Devin McCourty held up when a misunderstanding between Hill and Bridgewater left him isolated with the ball in sight. But in that moment, McCourty made a rare mistake, dropping the nominee for disappointment.

Kyle Duggar continues to play clutch.

Duggar, who already has two defensive touchdowns in 2022, increased his mileage on Sunday by intercepting Bridgewater in the third quarter and running it backwards to regain the lead for New England. I was.

Another timely play by Duggar, he finished the game with a total of five tackles and two deflected passes, earning an interception score.

The 26-year-old has a combination of instinct and athleticism that makes him a weapon in Bill Belichick’s defense. Among injuries in the secondary, Duggar was one of several standouts for the Patriots in a much-needed week.

special team problem

With regular punter Jake Bailey on the disabled list with a back injury, the Patriots again turned to backup Michael Paradis.

Paradis looked unsteady for most of the day, failing to land a punt inside the 20-yard line (pushing multiple punts into the end zone for touchbacks). On other occasions, he was unable to hit the ball deep enough.

On back-to-back punts to open the second half (following back-to-back Patriots three-and-outs), Paradis gained just 31 and 28 yards, respectively. After his second of these short punts, the Dolphins took over his 41-yard line for the Patriots and immediately put the ball down for a touchdown.

The punt wasn’t New England’s only special team challenge. I was able to seize the opportunity of The sequence ended with a touchdown to Hill, limiting the drive to 14 plays.

To add to that, Nick Faulk missed an extra point in the second half to cap off a difficult day on New England’s special teams. In many ways, the Patriots were lucky that these failures didn’t come at a greater price.

Lingering Injury Concerns and Week 18 Matchups

With this win, the Patriots still dominate the team’s playoff fortunes. A win over the Bills in Buffalo in Week 18 guarantees a wildcard spot.

New England could technically win even if they lost, but that would require other outcomes (some still to be decided in Week 17) to go down the right way.

Other early considerations ahead of the regular season finale are the status of Jonathan Jones and Jacobi Myers (among other players). Both players suffered injuries towards the end of Sunday’s win. neglected Injury concerns in his post-match media availability.

Myers, who suffered a shoulder injury while scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown, also said:need to do it” Ready to face the Buffalo.

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