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Week 17 Game Recap: Miami Dolphins 27, New England Patriots 24


What you need to know

Miami Dolphins

There was nothing to play for except pride this week against the Patriots. Miami shocked the world and finished their season 5-11 after beating the Patriots in week 17. The Dolphins continued to fall down the draft board with the win this week and ended the season on a 2-game winning streak. The defense harassed Tom Brady and kept him to just over 50% passing this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued his rampage with DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. This game was full of trick plays, revenge pick 6ís for former players, and a chaotic lateral filled final play. The Patriots looked to emulate the Miami Miracle from a season ago and fell well short on the final play. Miami showed their desire to win when they ran a fake punt on the opening drive of the game. The leaping throw by Haack was off target and it was a turn over on downs to give the Patriots great field position. Even with the play having a negative result, it showed the Dolphins were serious this week and were going to do anything they could to win. This team suffered several injuries and traded away almost every key player but still found a way to end the season on a high note. There will be a lot of change in Miami this off season, but they are closer to competing than anyone thought earlier this season.

New England Patriots

If the passing game clicks (which hasnít happened much this season), the Pats should be okay. If not, itíll be an ugly exit from the playoffs.

Miami Dolphins

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 41 - 320 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 15 - 1
It has been a long season in Miami for anyone under center. After flipping back and forth between Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen they finally settled in with Fitzpatrick and let him do his thing. It paid off as Miami finished the season on a 2-game win streak and took down their division rival in the Patriots. Fitzpatrick was not afraid to take shots down the field and everything seemed to turn around when he started targeting DeVante Parker. Fitzpatrick played mistake free football this week against a Patriots defense that embarrassed the team earlier in the year. HE connected on a game-winning touchdown to Mike Gesicki with less than 30 seconds to go and ran in a 2-yard score to take a lead in the second half. The touchdown was a perfectly thrown strike to Gesicki in the middle of the end zone. The rookie tight end ran a late breaking route that created just enough separation for Fitzpatrick to squeeze the ball in. His touchdown run came on a scramble play after a big catch by Albert Wilson and then a trick play double pass by Wilson. Fitzpatrick was sacked twice and put the ball on the ground once, but the Patriots were unable to recover. This was a very fitting end to the season for Fitzpatrick and there is no word on what Miami is going to do next season. They are in line to try and draft the quarterback of their future and that may afford Fitzpatrick another season at the helm.

RB Patrick Laird, 60 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 21 - 0, Rec: 4 - 48 - 0 (5 targets)
The running back position has been a giant black hole for the Dolphins this season. Players have been traded, injured, and suspended to get all the way to Laird. He finished this week with under 2 yards per carry and did not come anywhere close to the end zone. The Dolphins went out and signed Samaje Perine from the Bengalís practice squad because they did not trust Laird. He was given 11 carries and Perine still got 5 despite being with the team for less than a week. Lairdís longest run went for 4 yards and he just did not look effective this week. He made a little more noise in the passing game and finished 4th on the team this week in receiving yards. Laird caught 4 of his 5 targets for almost 50 yards and his longest was a 20-yard catch and run down the sideline. Laird most likely does not figure into the long term plans for the Dolphins but they needed to start someone down the stretch.

RB Myles Gaskin
After being the most productive back for the Dolphins since Kenyan Drake was traded, Gaskins hurt his ankle in the win against the Bengals. He was placed on the IR earlier in the week and Miami signed Samaje Perine to take his place.

WR DeVante Parker, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 137 - 0 (11 targets)
Parker has gone from a 1st round bust and likely non tender candidate to a legitimate #1 receiver for Miami this season. He finishes the year with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. He had 4 games with more than 100 yards receiving and 2 games with 2 touchdowns. Parker avenged an early season egg against the Patriots where he was held without a catch. This week he caught 8 of his 11 targets and led both teams in receiving without any other player coming close to half of his yardage total. Fitzpatrick loves taking shots down the field to Parker and the big bodied receiver would go up and make the catch. This is not a high percentage play that is going to work all of the time, but it seemed to work more than it did not down the stretch this season. Parkerís longest catch this week went for 28 yards and Stephon Gilmore just could not stay with him this week. Parker will be the #1 next season, even when Preston Williams comes back. This Miami team could correct a few things in the off season and be much improved next year if they can bring their core back and stay healthy.

WR Isaiah Ford, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 7 - 54 - 0 (9 targets)
This week was all about pride and securing a spot on the team for next year. Ford has played well down the stretch and may have solidified a roster spot for next season after how well he played today. He was second on the team in targets with 9 and was also good for second in receptions with 7. Albert Wilson had 5 more yards, but Ford was the go-to receiver outside of Parker this week. He played the role of possession receiver this week and had his longest catch go for just 15 yards. Miamiís offense needed someone to make catches outside of Parker and Gesicki and Ford filled that role this week. He is not going to wow anyone with his speed and his route running still needs work, but the Dolphins look to have a young receiver to work with going forward.

WR Albert Wilson, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 2 - 20 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 5 - 59 - 0 (8 targets)
Wilson was all over the field for the Dolphins this week. He started by catching 5 of his 8 targets for 59 yards. His longest catch went for 24 yards and was immediately followed by a trick play that had him throw a 20-yard pass to Patrick Laird. The 24-yard reception was a deep shot down the field from Fitzpatrick on a 3rd and 2 play. Wilson found the void in the zone and was able to turn and run up field for a big play. On the very next play, Wilson caught a backwards pass from Fitzpatrick, evaded a defended and threw a screen pass back across the field to Patrick Laird for 20 yards. Fitzpatrick ran it in from 2 yards later in the drive and the Dolphins took a 17-10 lead. This offense stepped up down the stretch and Miami was able to beat the Patriots for the second season in a row during the final week of the regular season.

TE Mike Gesicki, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 34 - 1 (7 targets)
It was looking like a very quiet week for Gesicki after going off for 2 touchdowns a week ago. The Patriots defense held him in check until the last drive of the game and a go-ahead touchdown. Gesicki and Fitzpatrick had struggled to get on the same page to this point and had only connected on 3 of 6 passes. He was able to come up big when it mattered the most and scored a 5-yard touchdown with just 29 seconds left. It was a 1st and goal play from the 5 and Fitzpatrick found Gesicki across the middle for the score. It was a great route with Gesicki breaking to the outside before a quick cut back to the middle and Fitzpatrick delivering a strike. Before that touchdown saved the day, his longest catch had gone for 14 yards and it was looking like a down week. Gesicki is the tight end of the future for Miami and he has done nothing but solidify his spot for next year in the past few weeks.


New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 29 - 221 - 2 TD / 1 INT
Unfortunately for the Patriots, Tom Brady decided to save his worst performance of the year in the game that may have mattered most - against the lowly Dolphins. He had his worst game from an on-target standpoint, generally missing throws up and down and side to side, and it wasnít because of pressure. Perhaps his elbow was bothering him, but it was an unacceptable performance for a playoff quarterback. The game started off poorly, with an overthrow on a long comeback route to Philip Dorsett. The worst throw by far was a pick 6 on a duck that was in between two receivers, a basic layup for any defensive player. Brady also missed scores with bad throws on a 2nd and 3rd and goal sequence that should have been touchdowns. Not all was his fault, as his receivers had their usual fill or drops and bonehead plays. His two touchdowns were more receiver than his doing. The first was a throw to Elandon Roberts of all people, who lined up at fullback and went out in the flat after initially blocking. No defender bothered to cover him, and he simply ran from deep for a score. His second was a screen to James White, and Patriots linemen blocked well for White on the score. Bottom line - if Brady plays like this in the playoffs, the Pats will be one and done.

RB Sony Michel, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 74 - 1
On another day where the passing offense was lackluster, Sony Michel ran relatively effectively, getting what was blocked and them some on several plays. Unfortunately, the Pats committed more to the pass in what could be described as a bad gameplan. Michelís touchdown featured a nice block by Elandon Roberts, who paved the way for a narrow score. Beyond that, not much to speak of. The Pats would be smart to utilize the ground game more, whether Michel or Burkhead or White.

RB Rex Burkhead, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 48 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)
Burkhead was perhaps the best skill player for the Patriots, running hard on his limited touches. The gameplan didnít utilize him in volume though, which may have been a mistake. He should still see action in the playoffs.

RB James White, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 3 - 33 - 1 (3 targets)
Whiteís highlight was a screen touchdown with great blocking in front of him. Oddly, as with many weeks this year, he wasnít utilized much beyond that even with a dearth of quality receiving weapons at WR and TE.

WR NKeal Harry, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (7 targets)
Harry was finally targeted more, but could have had a bigger game with some better throws from Tom Brady. Harry was targeted at the goal line a couple times, but off-target throws sapped any touchdown potential on the throws. Itís good to see him getting targeted though, as he can even win contested catches as evidenced by his back shoulder grab - something the other receivers on the team arenít as capable of.

WR Julian Edelman, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (7 targets)
Once again, Edelman wasnít his normal self, as heís likely playing hurt. Without him, the passing game is really struggling, and itís unlikely one week will get him back to full strength.

WR Mohamed Sanu, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 35 - 0 (5 targets)
Sanuís worst error on the day was a bad drop, which is an improvement for him. He actually got slightly better separation than most days, but his biggest potential gain on a crossing route was an off-target throw.