What We Saw: Week 18

Week 18 was one of the craziest of the season thanks to Jacksonville's stout defense

Patriots @ Dolphins

Final Score: Dolphins 33, Patriots 24

Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)


This was a very, very frustrating game for all Patriots fans thanks mostly in part due to ineffectiveness on defense, mistakes on offense, and, at times, very poor officiating. Let’s start with the first issue with this team on Sunday – the defense. New England came into this one missing Kyle DuggerDont’a Hightower, and Myles Bryant, three key starters on defense. They held Tua Tagovailoa to only 109 yards through the air but struggled to get stops on third down, with both Tua and Duke Johnson often extending drives on the ground. When a team can’t make stops on defense and loses the time of possession war, it’s hard to win football games.

On offense, rookie QB Mac Jones threw a pick-six early in the game that completely swung the momentum in Miami’s way for pretty much the entire game. Sure, the Patriots fought back and made it interesting, but they faced two 17 point deficits in this game which forced the ball into Mac’s hands even more. The problem was exacerbated when Mac, after orchestrating a nice drive to get the Patriots into Miami territory and on the verge of scoring, fumbled a snap and turned it over to the Dolphins. The Patriots never quite recovered from the mistakes by their young QB.

Finally, New England was impacted by poor officiating on multiple occasions which helped Miami put points on the board. The first, and most egregious, of the penalties was on a fake punt early in the game. The punter took the ball and ran it to the left side, sliding feet first before reaching the sticks. As he slid, Brandon Bolden dove head first at him. It was a dangerous play, but Bolden never made contact with the punter. Regardless, a flag was thrown and unnecessary roughness was called. This led to a field goal.



Next was a questionable roughing the passer penalty that gifted Miami 15 yards.



Then, later on, Tua apparently (in the eyes of the official at the top of the screen) got enough for the first down on this QB sneak. Tell me where exactly the ball is?



Finally, on what ended up being the game-clinching play, Matthew Judon was held by the RT with the official looking right at it. This it a textbook hold, with the tackle’s arm around Judon’s neck. Yet it went uncalled, and Tua scrambled for a game-clinching first down.




Sure, you’re getting the opinion of one salty Patriots fan. And don’t get me wrong – the Patriots didn’t deserve to win this game. They played like crap, but the fact that they played like crap and still had a chance to win goes to show that this team does have some heart and some fight in them. It’s just tough when you’re going up against the officials as well.

To cap off this disgusting game, the Patriots had one final play with three seconds left to come up with a miracle. You can imagine how that went…



New England Patriots




Mac Jones: 20/30, 261 yards, TD, INT, 2 Sacks, Fumble (Lost) | 3 carries, 4 yards


Sigh. Mac Jones has struggled down the stretch, and he made two very costly rookie mistakes on Sunday that led to a loss. First, on their first drive of the game while already down 7-0, Mac misread the defense and didn’t see Xavien Howard leave his man and stick around in zone coverage. This led to a pick-six that completely threw off New England’s game for the rest of the day.



Mac had plenty of time to make a better throw and he simply made a mistake that cost the team seven points. In fact, he had plenty of time to throw for a good chunk of the first half, that is until starting LT Isaiah Wynn went down with an injury and didn’t return. Mac had multiple passes tipped at the line of scrimmage in the first half, and for the most part the Dolphins played him tough.

Mac’s second costly mistake came late in the third quarter on a botched snap.



This snap came with Ted Karras at center instead of David Andrews, the starting center who was off on the sideline. Andrews would return to the game, and Mac ended up taking blame for the play in the postgame presser.

Through the air, Mac was good but not spectacular. At one point, Mac threw a ball that required Hunter Henry to make a spectacular diving catch. Many on Twitter applauded the throw, but it left me wanting more.



I thought Mac put a little too much air under this ball, and it cost Henry about 10 yards of YAC in my opinion. He threw a couple of other deep balls that were on point and he also made some good throws on the run including this one to Henry again.



As he has on multiple occasions in the last few weeks, Mac did enough to help the Patriots stay in the game and gave them a shot at the end to win. For a rookie QB, that’s not too bad. It would be nice to see Mac take a big second-year jump and become a fantasy-relevant QB.


Running Backs


Damien Harris: 11 carries, 37 yards, TD | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 36 yards

Rhamondre Stevenson: 4 carries, 34 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards

Brandon Bolden: 7 carries, 46 yards, TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards, TD


As we all expected in this game, Brandon Bolden was the fantasy star in this backfield, scoring two TDs and looking like the most dynamic player in the backfield for much of the game. On his first score of the game, Bolden hit the hole, made multiple defenders miss, then bounced it outside to get the Patriots back in the game.



His second TD was through the air on a short screen, and it was initially flagged for DPI on Hunter Henry.



After discussion, the referees picked up the flag once they determined that Henry was within one yard of the line of scrimmage, which can clearly be seen in the clip. Rhamondre Stevenson was shaken up early in the game on a big hit, and while he did return to action it’s possible that New England felt like it was best to take it easy with him.

They will need both Stevenson and Damien Harris to ball out in Buffalo on Saturday night. Harris scored a touchdown of his own, a short run up the middle after a Miami DPI penalty in the end zone. Harris didn’t get as many opportunities as we’re used to and it was likely due to poor game script after the Patriots were down 17-0 in the first half and 27-10 later in the game. Two seventeen-point deficits are not conducive to a big game on the ground.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Kendrick Bourne: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 24 yards | 1 carry, 8 yards

Jakobi Meyers: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 70 yards, Fumble (Lost)

Hunter Henry: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 86 yards

Jonnu Smith: 1 carry, 5 yards

Nelson Agholor: 3 targets, 1 reception, 23 yards


Mac Jones threw a couple of deep balls to Jakobi Meyers, which made up for most of Jakobi’s yardage on the day. Here’s an unreal catch by Meyers which announcer Spero Dedes called “perfect”, a term I would disagree with,



Like the Hunter Henry catch shown in the Mac blurb, this one was a tad overthrown. Speaking of Henry, he was kept out of the end zone like the rest of New England’s receiving corps, but his two long catches paced the Patriots through the air.

Kendrick Bourne had two notable plays on the day. His first was this long catch and run which very nearly resulted in a first down right before the half.



Bourne also ran the wrong route on a 3rd and 10 at one point, leading him to run into Nelson Agholor as Mac threw it into empty space. The miscommunication clearly upset Jones as he was seen yelling at Bourne shortly after.

Jonnu Smith had his weekly carry for five yards and didn’t contribute anything else on the stat sheet. Hopefully this team is able to find some way to use him more in 2022 because right now that contract is looking pretty bad.

N’Keal Harry returned to the game this week and I spotted him on one play, that was it. I hope that the N’Keal Harry experiment in New England will finally come to an end once the season is over.



Miami Dolphins




Tua Tagovailoa: 15/22, 109 yards, TD, Sack | 5 carries, 38 yards


When I look at this line I wonder to myself just how this Dolphins team beat the Patriots with a QB who barely broke the century mark through the air. Tua Tagovailoa didn’t make any mistakes on paper, but he had multiple bad passes that should have been intercepted. Here’s one that Devin McCourty flat-out dropped:



Tua’s most notable plays came on two crucial third downs. This first one came on third and long, went for 23 yards, and helped extend a drive that ended up resulting in the game-winning field goal..



Finally, his scramble on third and eight with under two minutes to play essentially sealed the game for Miami.



If you couldn’t tell by the tweet, this play made one Patriots fan very, very unhappy.



Tua is now 3-0 in his career against the Patriots. He’s a gamer. He’s got fight in him. He’s not an elite QB and never will be, but he’s got guts and can win a big game. He’s a more athletic Tim Tebow with less aura around him. Tua is at times extremely frustrating, but for the most part I think he’ll end up giving the Dolphins a chance to win more often than not, and today was no different.


Running Back


Duke Johnson: 25 carries, 117 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards

Phillip Lindsay: 11 carries, 40 yards

Myles Gaskin: 1 carry, -1 yard | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 11 yards

Michael Palardy: 1 carry, 1 yard


Duke Johnson was the motor that powered this offense on Sunday, carrying the rock like a lead back on a day where the Dolphins were pretty much able to do whatever they wanted on offense. They chose to grind the Patriots’ defense down via the ground game, and it worked.

Johnson’s two most notable plays were a 27 yard run early in the third quarter (Miami’s longest play of the game) and his touchdown just a few minutes later.



The touchdown came one play after a pass interference penalty on Jalen Mills in the end zone gifted Miami 1st and goal on the one.



Other than these two plays, Johnson was nothing more than steady Eddy. He kept falling forward, fighting for extra yards, and otherwise just ran hard. It’s a different style of football than what we all thought Duke Johnson played, but at this stage of his career, he’s embraced the new role and is, umm, running with it.

Myles Gaskin apparently caught three passes. I don’t remember any of them. He’s been relegated to the third-string RB in this offense and I doubt he’ll be a meaningful part of this offense in 2022.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Mike Gesicki: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards

Jaylen Waddle: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 27 yards, TD

DeVante Parker: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Durham Smythe: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 32 yards

Mack Hollins: 1 target


Unless your name was Jaylen Waddle, you really weren’t a factor in this game. Even Waddle only had five catches, which was enough to set the rookie reception, with four of them coming on Miami’s opening drive. His final catch on the drive was this fantastic touchdown grab in the back of the end zone on a play where he somehow went uncovered by New England’s defense.



Now let’s give this play the Nickelodeon treatment for no good reason!



Later in the 1st half, Waddle dropped what likely would have been another touchdown.



Waddle had the corner beat, and even Devin McCourty appeared to be beaten on the play as he cheated up to try jumping the route before realizing his mistake. It appeared that Waddle started to turn and run before he had the ball secured, likely because he saw McCourty out of position and nothing but open field in front of him. The Patriots truly caught a break on this drop, and it was the difference between a Flex day and a monster WR1 day for Waddle.

DeVante Parker has historically burned the Patriots, but he got the full J.C. Jackson treatment in this one and was held to only two catches. This was his biggest missed opportunity, an easy touchdown if not for a great play by Jackson to knock it away at the last minute.



Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.