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Patriots’ playoff hopes still alive as defense buckles down to beat Dolphins

The New England Patriots extended the Miami Dolphins’ losing streak to five games in a 23-21 victory that has them on the edge of clinching a playoff spot. 

The Patriots will now head to the TV to watch the New York Jets, who they need to lose to get in as the final wild card team this week.

The Dolphins, now 8-8 just like New England, head into Week 18 needing to win and the Patriots to lose if they wish to make the playoffs. 

Miami had to go into this game with Teddy Bridgewater under center, as Tua Tagovailoa continues to be in concussion protocol. But while Bridgewater was having himself a solid game, he injured a finger in his throwing hand and had to come out, leaving rookie Skylar Thompson to take over. 

Bridgewater’s injury came on a crucial play, as he was picked off on a pass intended for Trent Sherfield and Patriots safety Kyle Dugger took that interception to the house for a 39-yard pick-six. 


It gave New England a 16-14 lead, and they would add to it later in the fourth quarter with an 11-play, 89-yard drive that resulted in Jakobi Meyers going up to snatch a pass from Mac Jones for a one-yard touchdown, a necessary score to leave home with a win. 

Thompson made a push late in the game, going 61 yards in nine plays for a Mike Gesicki touchdown that made it 23-21 with just under a minute to play. 

But the Dolphins couldn’t convert on the onside kick attempt, as Hunter Henry fell on it and allowed the Patriots to kneel out the clock. 

Jones finished the game with 203 yards and two passing touchdowns, his first coming on a seven-yard pass to Tyquan Thornton on the Patriots’ opening drive of the game. 

Skylar Thompson of the Miami Dolphins runs against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 1, 2023, in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Bridgewater would orchestrate a drive that saw Tyreek Hill rush for two yards to tie the game at seven immediately after the Patriots scored, and he added a nifty pitch to Raheem Mostert in the third quarter for a two-yard score to make it 14-7. 

Bridgewater finished the game 12 of 19 for 161 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Thompson went 12 of 21 for 104 yards. 


There wasn’t much run game for either team in this contest, with the Patriots totaling 77 yards to the Dolphins’ 86 yards. Rhamondre Stevenson had 42 yards on just eight carries, while Jeff Wilson Jr. had 45 yards on 15 carries. Mostert also had 29 yards on nine touches. 

With the Buffalo Bills on the schedule next week for the Patriots, they certainly are hoping the Seattle Seahawks can take down the Jets so they don’t have to worry about beating the current No. 1 seed in the AFC. 

Mac Jones of the New England Patriots checks a play against the Miami Dolphins on Jan. 1, 2023, in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

As for the Dolphins, they have the Jets on the schedule in Miami for Week 18. 

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