Dolphins turn tables on Patriots, romp to 22-12 victory in Week 15

Kyle Crabbs
·3 min read

Remember back in Week 1 when the New England Patriots ran all over the Miami Dolphins’ defense for 200+ yards and demoralized Miami to the tune of 21-11? That game dropped the Dolphins to 0-1 on the season and introduced a slew of questions around the Dolphins’ defense that lingered throughout the first month of the year as Miami’s defensive struggles set the tone for a 1-3 start. That feels like centuries ago today on the heels of the Miami Dolphins’ latest contest — a 22-12 rematch victory over the Patriots that featured the Dolphins flipping the script on New England to the tune of a whopping 250 rushing yards.

Miami turned to the ground game in large part because they had no choice — Miami learned shortly before the football game started that they would be without WR DeVante Parker, TE Mike Gesicki, and WR Jakeem Grant; all of which were questionable entering the weekend. With none of the above available, rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was tasked with throwing to WR Lynn Bowden, TE Durham Smythe, WR Isaiah Ford, and WR Mack Hollins as his top targets. The rookie finished 20/26 passing for 145 yards and one interception on the day, but he did add two rushing touchdowns in the second half to help the Dolphins churn the clock and take advantage of a New England Patriots game plan that was centered around shortening the game and playing physical in the trenches.

Turns out Miami had the same idea — and they executed better.

Rookie running back Salvon Ahmed rushed 23 times for 122 yards and a score, logging Miami’s first 100-yard individual performance since 2018 when RB Kalen Ballage did so against the Minnesota Vikings. The Dolphins as a team surpassed 200 yards rushing for the first time since 2016 when running back Jay Ajayi was the bell-cow back. If that doesn’t illustrate how good of a performance Miami had today on the ground, nothing will.

The Dolphins found plenty of movement up front — but the success in the trenches wasn’t exclusive to the offense. The Dolphins limited New England to 117 yards on 22 carries and refused to let the Patriots reach the end zone, marking eight consecutive quarters since the Patriots’ offense reached the end zone and nine consecutive quarters since Cam Newton led the Patriots into the end zone. Miami also extended their streak of consecutive games with a turnover and nearly saw another fumble return brought back to the red zone by cornerback Xavien Howard. Howard’s return was called back upon review when it was determined that the ball touched DL Christian Wilkins while out of bounds, but Howard collected a turnover with a strip to set up a short field in the second half nonetheless.

The Dolphins should be plenty proud of today’s performance and the entire body of work for the 2020 season — but there’s more work to be done. Miami plays next on Saturday night against the Las Vegas Raiders with a chance to secure win No. 10 and try to move closer to a postseason berth in the second year of the Brian Flores era.