It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but when plays needed to be made, the New England Patriots made enough of them to knock off the Miami Dolphins and keep their playoff hopes alive on Sunday.
The Patriots certainly benefitted from rough quarterback play for a Dolphins team that was playing without their starter, Tua Tagovailoa. Both Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson took snaps under center in the game and combined for 265 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
But don’t expect any sympathy from a Patriots team that had nearly their entire starting cornerback unit out for this game. Jonathan Jones was the only starter left, and even he went down with a scary injury late in the game.
The Patriots got big contributions from their reserve players at the position on a day that didn’t yield as many sacks as the team hoped from the defensive front, especially from Matthew Judon and Josh Uche. But defensive tackle Christian Barmore did his part in harassing both Bridgewater and Thompson throughout the game for one sack and three quarterback hits.
And the team also benefitted from a game-breaking pick-six from safety Kyle Dugger.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Patriots got big contributions from tight end Hunter Henry and rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton, who hauled in the first touchdown pass of the game. It was a promising sight for a Patriots team that’s still desperate for explosive playmakers on offense.
Thornton could clearly be that player for the team following a game where he hauled in three receptions for 60 yards.
The win on Sunday keeps the Patriots in control of their own destiny with an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a road win over the Buffalo Bills in the regular season finale. Depending on how things shake out, the Bills might be in a position to rest their starters against the Patriots, which could keep New England in the thick of things in January.
It’s remarkable how a team that has seemingly been dead for multiple weeks has now suddenly sprung to life with a chance to punch their ticket to the big dance.
These 2022 Patriots really are something else.