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Patriots slip past Dolphins, keep playoff hopes alive

Jan 1, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Dolphins safety Eric Rowe (21) takles New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Dugger returned an interception for a touchdown to headline a strong second-half defensive effort, and the New England Patriots kept their postseason hopes alive with a 23-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

New England (8-8) is in line to secure a playoff berth should it record a win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 18.

Dugger intercepted Teddy Bridgewater and returned it 39 yards to the end zone to stake the Patriots to a 16-14 lead with 2:51 left in the third quarter.

Mac Jones later capped an 89-yard march with a 1-yard scoring strike to Jakobi Meyers to hand Miami (8-8) its fifth straight loss.

Jones completed 20 of 33 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Tyquan Thornton had three catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, and Meyers hauled in six receptions for 48 yards.

Bridgewater exited the game with a finger injury following Dugger’s interception. Bridgewater threw for 161 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 12-for-19 passing.

Skylar Thompson took over under center and threw a 4-yard TD to tight end Mike Gesicki with 1:04 remaining, but the Dolphins couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick.

After New England went three-and-out, Miami took just 2:45 to move 41 yards in five plays. The Dolphins seized a 14-7 edge after Raheem Mostert found himself on the receiving end of a 2-yard TD pass from Bridgewater early in the third quarter.

Nick Folk booted a 49-yard field on the Patriots’ following possession to make it 14-10.

Jason Sanders had a chance to give the Dolphins the lead before the break but pushed a 51-yard field goal wide right with 6:21 left to play in the first half.

New England also had a chance to move ahead when it got the ball with just under two minutes remaining, but only managed to gain 20 yards, sending the teams into intermission knotted at 7-all.

A defensive holding penalty allowed the Patriots to set up shop at the Miami 11 on their opening drive, and they took advantage, as Jones found Thornton three plays later for a 7-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

However, the Dolphins immediately answered with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that Tyreek Hill punctuated with a 2-yard rush to even the score.

–Field Level Media

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