The New England Patriots saw their playoff hopes dashed as the six-time Super Bowl champions went down 22-12 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
A defeat to the Los Angeles Rams in the Patriots’ previous outing had ended their streak of 17 straight seasons with 10 or more wins and 11 successive division titles, both of which were the longest such runs in NFL history, and Bill Belichick’s team will now not be involved in the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Meanwhile, former Patriots star Tom Brady combined with another ex-New England player as Antonio Brown scored his first touchdown for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.
There was also a big win for the Seattle Seahawks, who clinched a playoff berth for the ninth time in 11 seasons thanks to a 20-15 win over the Washington Football Team.
PATRIOTS’ POSTSEASON STREAK COMES TO AN END
For the first time in 12 years, there will be no New England in the postseason. They are now 6-8 in third place in the AFC East and officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Though the Patriots led at halftime, Cam Newton could not pick the Dolphins lock and help find a way to the end zone, with New England failing to score a touchdown.
Newton finished with 209 passing yards, while Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa produced a decisive performance, with two rushing scores to go along with 20-of-26 passing for 145 yards as the hosts tallied 22 points in the second half.
While the Patriots will be observers this postseason, Miami (9-5) have their playoff fate in their own hands, needing only to win their final two games.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 20, 2020
BRADY BREAKS ATLANTA AGAIN AS BROWN GETS OFF THE MARK
While Newton may not be the man to take the Patriots forward, New England’s former stalwart and legendary QB Brady inspired Tampa to a tight 31-27 win over the Falcons.
In the 2017 Super Bowl, Brady led the greatest comeback in championship game history as he inspired New England from 28-3 down in the third quarter to a 34-28 overtime success against Atlanta.
The prize on offer was considerably less substantial this time around, but Brady broke Falcons hearts again as he turned around two 17-point deficits.
Atlanta raced into a 17-0 lead by halftime and then restored that cushion after Tampa got their first touchdown early in the second half.
Yet it was to be Brady’s day, with the 43-year-old finishing completing 31 of 45 throws for 390 yards and two touchdowns.
He rounded it off in style, picking out Brown – a midseason signing for the Bucs – with a 46-yard touchdown pass as the seven-time Pro Bowler got off the mark for his new team.
The Bucs are now 9-5 for 2020, ensuring just their third winning season since 2007, when Tampa last made the playoffs. Victory over Detroit Lions next time out will be enough to secure postseason football.
Coming back to Tampa with the W pic.twitter.com/639YAKQYlg
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 20, 2020
SEAHAWKS PLAYOFF-BOUND, BEARS AND COWBOYS IN THE MIX
The Chicago Bears remain firmly in the hunt for an NFC wildcard spot after they overcame the Minnesota Vikings 33-27.
Chicago, who started the campaign 5-1 before a six-game losing streak saw them drop off the pace, put in a poor offensive showing in a 19-13 defeat to the Vikings in Week 10 but showed no such inefficiency this time in their NFC North divisional contest.
— NFL (@NFL) December 20, 2020
The Dallas Cowboys are also still in the mix despite missing running back Ezekiel Elliott for their clash with the San Francisco 49ers.
Elliott sat out a game due to injury for the first time in his career, having suffered a calf bruise in the loss to the Baltimore Ravens on December 8, but the Cowboys managed without him.
Even with a 5-9 record, the Cowboys – who beat the Niners 41-33 – can still qualify for the postseason, with Washington’s defeat to the Seahawks having helped their cause.
That win in Washington booked a playoff spot for Seattle, who improved to 10-4 for the season.
Seattle made life tough for themselves in the fourth quarter, having led 20-3 in the third, but got consecutive sacks before an unsuccessful Hail Mary attempt ended Washington’s comeback hopes.
QB Russell Wilson, Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde all topped 50 yards rushing for the Seahawks, with the latter scoring a touchdown on a 50-yard run.
Week 15 scores
Green Bay Packers 24-16 Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-27 Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens 40-14 Jacksonville Jaguars
Dallas Cowboys 41-33 San Francisco 49ers
Indianapolis Colts 27-20 Houston Texans
Miami Dolphins 22-12 New England Patriots
Chicago Bears 33-27 Minnesota Vikings
Tennessee Titans 46-25 Detroit Lions
Seattle Seahawks 20-15 Washington Football Team