The defense was dominant, holding the Patriots to 12 points, 2 of 9 on third downs, 303 total yards, sacking Cam Newton 3 times and forcing 3 fumbles (1 recovered). The Patriots only held the ball for 22:34, which is a far cry from the first match-up.
The Dolphins running game surprisingly showed up big time. 240 yards on 42 carries. Both Salvon Admeh (122 yards) and Matt Breida (86 yards) showed up. The Dolphins averaged 6 ypc on the ground. The offensive line wore down the Patriots front 7 and the Dolphins were able to dominate time of possession by holding the ball for 37:26.
Injuries have completely decimated this team, especially in the passing game. With Parker and Gesicki out, the Dolphins were unable to attack downfield. Tua Tagovailoa only threw for 145 yards. The leading receiver was Durham Smythe with 5 catches for 40 yards. The Dolphins had to go run-heavy and throw short passes all day to win. Ultimately, the gameplan worked, but it was very hard to watch.
Another tale of two Tua's, but this time it wasn't by halves, but rather by type of player. Tua the passer had a terrible game, throwing for 145 yards and one interception. But Tua the foot player did what was needed to win, running for two touchdowns and making plays in the second half when it was needed most. It wasn't pretty on the stat sheet, but he did what was needed to win.
The Dolphins have guaranteed themselves their first winning season since 2016. Will it lead to their first playoff berth since 2016 as well? It is looking increasingly difficult for the Dolphins to get in. Even though they are 9-5 and own the last wildcard spot, the Ravens have two cupcake games against the Giants and Bengals (combined 7-19-1), while the Dolphins have to finish against the Raiders and Bills (combined 18-10). If the Dolphins can beat the Raiders, it may all come down to whether the Bills are resting their starters the last week of the season.