The New England Patriots will have to play on Wild Card weekend this season. In a year in which they desperately needed the bye, they crumbled in the end and failed to take the now 5-11 Miami Dolphins seriously, losing 27-24 to their division rivals in their regular season finale.
With a late score on a screen pass to James White, everyone thought it was over. However, a late march down the field and touchdown by Mike Gesiki ended all of the hopes for the second seed.
Here are the observations made during New England's final regular season game.
Patriots sleep from start to finish, fail to take Dolphins seriously
The Patriots failed to show up on Sunday. Everyone thought the team we saw last week against a good Bills defense would be there to stay. Instead, they went start to finish with a sleepy, nonchalant showcase. They stumbled through the first quarter with very little life.
The offense could accomplish nothing at the start. Tom Brady missed several early throws and threw a pick-six to former Patriot, Eric Rowe. The playcalling by Josh McDaniels failed to benefit the team. In result, they only mustered together one first down on their first three drives.
The defense confused everyone to start. The defensive scheme didn't make much sense. One would think the best secondary in the league would play man coverage against a team like the Dolphins. As good as DeVante Parker has been lately, one would think the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore could take Parker one-on-one. Early on, New England used some heavy blitzes with no safety help to attack Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, the pressure was minimal and Fitzpatrick found the open guy in a poorly designed zone coverage scheme.
Eventually, the Patriots would adjust some things on both sides of the ball and tie the game before the end of the first half. But in the end, the defense did not make enough adjustments to stop a Fitzpatrick-led offense, and Brady and the crew did not make enough plays to win the game.
Sony Michel looks good again
Many people were saying throughout the week that Sony Michel had his best game in a Patriots jersey against the Bills. He built on that strong performance with another day of strong running.
Michel appears to be hitting the hole much quicker than before. His downfield running style has caused Michel to be a little too patient for a hole to open this season. Unfortunately, with a banged up offensive line, many times holes have not opened up for him.
Now, Michel's waiting too long in the backfield might be a thing of the past. The last three games have been leaps and bounds better for Michel, as he's been hitting the hole quicker and the offensive line has looked better.
With this performance, Patriots fans can only hope Sony Michel is here to stay. He finished this game with 18 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Absences of McCourty and Brooks hurt Patriots' secondary
One has to think that with the absence of two very good secondary pieces missing from today's game, the Patriots defense would struggle a little bit. Both Terrence Brooks and Jason McCourty missed the Week 17 game, and the result was just that - a struggling defense.
A banged-up Patrick Chung saw a lot of action on Sunday and struggled much like he did last week. He was constantly beat by tight ends, across the middle. He also gave up the game-winning touchdown in man coverage.
This season has not been a good one for Chung. He has either been quiet, hurt or underperforming. He is probably a player who could benefit from a week's rest.
Elandon Roberts has a moment he will never forget
Elandon Roberts caught a 34-yard touchdown pass while left all alone in the flat. It was a spectacular moment that could be one of the highlights of this season for New England.
Not to mention, this throw marked Brady's 540th regular season touchdown pass. He is now in second all-time, behind only Drew Brees.
Roberts has been great as a lead blocker lately and now is apparently contributing in the passing game.
Defense can't hold Fitzpatrick
Time and time again, Fitzpatrick was able to find the open guy against this defense. One of the main focal points was to play zone and blitz extra men to pressure Fitzpatrick. Those blitzes did absolutely nothing.
Despite several attempts to pressure Fitzpatrick, the Patriots only registered two sacks. That is an appalling stat for a team that constantly weakened their back-end help to bring extra blitzers.
This could have been one of the more poorly schemed games the Patriots have had in a while. The defensive gameplan made little sense. Where for most team's it is not rocket-science to shut down a 4-11 team on offense, the Patriots' coaching staff and players made it look like it was.
This was not an encouraging effort for the league's supposed number one defense. They have a lot of things to correct from this game before going on to the playoffs.
Patriots end 12-4 this season, have third seed going forward
If there is a positive to draw off this game, winning 12 games in a season is no small feat.
Brady could be gone. McDaniels and other staff members could leave as well. Take some time to appreciate another 12 win season. Although, after this ugly display and a limping team, it might understandably be hard.