There would be no epic comeback this time for the New England Patriots.
With the opportunity to take over the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Patriots came up short in Miami Gardens, Fla., falling to the Dolphins, 24-20.
Although the Patriots did take the lead in the fourth quarter, 20-17, the defense couldn’t hold the Dolphins – not even to a field goal – in their ensuing drive, and Tom Brady ran out of magic in the final minute of the game.
Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola combined for 270 yards, and Edelman scored a 24-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The ball was moving through the air, but the Patriots could not establish much of anything in the run game.
LeGarrette Blount led all rushers with just 47 yards on the ground. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen couldn’t get much going.
1. The playoff picture
The Broncos gave the Pats an open door to home field advantage throughout the playoffs by losing last Thursday, but they couldn’t take advantage of it. Now, not only do the Patriots not have home field advantage, there’s a strong chance they lose the bye altogether if the Bengals pass them in the standings. The Bengals hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Patriots, which would give them the No. 2 seed over New England if they finished the regular season with the same record.
2. Miss you, Gronk
Brady had no issues racking up the yardage on Sunday against the Dolphins. He finished with 364 passing yards and two touchdowns – but had one big pick to close out the game. That’s because his favorite red zone weapon, Rob Gronkowski is out for the season. The Patriots had five chances to score in the red zone and win the game. Each pass fell incomplete to Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman (twice), Michael Hoomanawanui, and finally, the interception intended for Austin Collie. It’s a problem that the Patriots can expect to have going forward without the massive target.
3. Secondary concerns
Mike Wallace was the big-splash free agent the Dolphins signed over the offseason, but he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this season in Miami. On Sunday, Wallace and the rest of the Dolphins receiving corps stepped up when the team needed them most. Wallace finished with six receptions for 105 yards and a 39-yard touchdown. The TD came over Pats cornerback Marquice Cole, who had replaced a then-injured Kyle Arrington. Ryan Tannehill had his way with the Pats secondary, throwing for 312 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. Tannehill completed six of his last seven pass attempts – 66 yards total – including the 14-yard pass to Marcus Thigpen for the Dolphins’ go-ahead TD late in the fourth.