The Miami Dolphins saw their postseason dreams slip further away as the New England Patriots secured yet another AFC East Division title with a 23-16 win at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Miami (5-7, 1-3 AFC East) fell behind early due to a sloppy turnover, careless penalties and brutal special teams miscues, and the Patriots (9-3, 5-0) held a 17-10 halftime lead. The Dolphins finished the game with just 277 yards of total offense, and they had a turnover and eight penalties for 90 yards.
However, the Patriots allowed the Dolphins to hang around as QB Tom Brady, an MVP candidate, had his worst game of the season. New England finished with a season-low 321 yards of offense, and Brady had a season-worst 74.8 passer rating.
Still, it wasn't enough for the Dolphins.
Miami managed to cut the deficit to only a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining, but the ensuing onside kick bounced harmlessly into the arms of a New England player.
When the game turned: The Dolphins got a 33-yard field goal from K Dan Carpenter with 8:28 remaining to trim the lead to 20-13. The Patriots responded by embarking on a 16-play, 77-yard drive that took 7:18 off the clock and resulted in a 20-yard FG by New England K Stephen Gostkowski.
Highlight moments: New England took a double-digit lead early in the second quarter when WR Wes Welker shook his defender and made a silky, 7-yard touchdown grab. … Miami rookie QB Ryan Tannehill faked a dive, booted left and dove across the goal line with the ball outstretched between a pair of defenders for a dramatic 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
- Tannehill -- 13 of 29 for 186 yards, 1 interception, 1 rushing touchdown.
- Dolphins WR Brian Hartline -- 5 catches for 85 yards
- Dolphins DB Reshad Jones -- 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception
- Patriots LB Brandon Spikes -- 4 tackles, 2 passes defended
- Patriots RB Stevan Ridley -- 19 carries, 71 yards, 1 touchdown
- Welker -- 12 catches, 103 yards, 1 touchdown
What they said:
- Dolphins RB Reggie Bush to the South Florida Sun Sentinel on amassing just 277 yards of offense: "We had some missed opportunities out there. It comes down to execution."
- New England DL Vince Wilfork to the Palm Beach Post on the struggling Dolphins: "This team is 5-6 but they shouldn't be; they're a lot better."
- Ridley to the Associated Press on the game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter: "We pounded away on a great defense, and they finally gave in a little.”
Numbers you should know: Brady had a streak of 202 straight passes without an interception snapped by Jones in the first half. … Welker made it five consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving. … Welker also set a new NFL record with his 16th career game with at least 10 catches and 100 yards.
Injury update: Patriots -- OL Dan Connolly left in the first half with a back injury. His status going forward is unclear. WR Julian Edelman was seen in crutches after the game and the extent of his injury is unknown. Dolphins -- OT Jake Long left the game with a triceps injury in the first half and was replaced by rookie OL Jonathan Martin, who filled in for him on the left side. Long's status is unclear.
Going forward: Patriots -- The next two weeks pits New England against the league's elite teams. The Patriots host the Texans and 49ers in consecutive night games and have a chance to make a statement. However, this much is clear: a repeat of Sunday's performance against the Dolphins will result in two defeats. Dolphins -- This loss didn't hurt as much as expected. Nearly every other team in contention for the final wildcard spot in the AFC lost on Sunday. A trip for a game against the 49ers is looming, but following that are games against the Bills and Jaguars, so a winning streak isn't out of the question. Coach Joe Philbin should have his veterans buying in for at least one more week.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Miami Dolphins from blogger Dave Carey, follow @CBSDolphins