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Miami at New England

Dolphins charge to finish, beat Pats for sixth straight

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots are headed to the playoffs after their most entertaining loss of the season. The Dolphins are done after their sixth consecutive victory.

Tom Brady watched most of it from the sidelines.

Miami achieved its longest winning streak in 13 years Sunday with a 28-26 victory over New England, which rested many of its starters with an eye toward next Saturday night's wild-card game against Jacksonville at Foxborough.

"When you're a spectator, it's a little bit different," said Brady, who was 3-of-8 for 37 yards and didn't play after the first quarter. "You can't control what's going on."

He couldn't even have imagined.

Doug Flutie converted the NFL's first successful drop kick for an extra point in 64 years. Rookie quarterback Matt Cassel, who threw 33 passes in four years as a backup at USC, threw two touchdown passes. And rookie wide receiver Bam Childress, who made his first pro catch after being activated before the game, gave up a touchdown catch while playing cornerback.

"We played guys to get them experience, get them out there to play," coach Bill Belichick said, "give them a chance so they will be better prepared to play if they are called upon."

Running back Corey Dillon, who was healthy, and linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who had a left calf injury, were inactive. Other starters sat out all or most of the game.

That didn't diminish the victory for the Dolphins (9-7), who finished one game behind the AFC East champion Patriots (10-6), who are seeded fourth.

"You play whoever's out there," Miami defensive end Jason Taylor said. "Those are all professional players."

Olindo Mare kicked four field goals, Gus Frerotte threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Marty Booker, Ricky Williams scored on a 3-yard run and Cassel was sacked for a safety.

But the two-time defending champion Patriots staged a late comeback, as the 43-year-old Flutie made the NFL's first successful drop kick since Ray McLean for the Chicago Bears on Dec. 21, 1941. It followed Cassel's first pro touchdown pass, a 6-yarder to Tim Dwight that made it 25-19 with 6:10 left.

As the ball sailed through the uprights, Flutie punched the air and was mobbed by teammates. Then he ran to the sideline, where he was embraced by a smiling Belichick.

"I just thanked him for the opportunity," said Flutie, who had been dropped to third-string quarterback before the game. He felt he had "probably an 80 percent chance (of making the kick). It was fun."

After Mare's 42-yard field goal made it 28-20 with 1:55 left, Cassel cut the lead to 28-26 with a 9-yard pass to Ben Watson with no time left. But Cassel's pass for a two-point conversion fell incomplete.

"I'm very excited," Cassel said. "You get a few series under your belt, you get hit in the chin, things seem to calm down."

The Dolphins started the season 3-7 under new coach Nick Saban, then didn't lose again.

"We are not in the playoffs, but it was not all in vain," Saban said. "This group was a team for the last six weeks of the season, for sure."

Williams, who scored before first-string defenders left in the second quarter, rushed for 108 yards, one week after gaining 172.

"It shows how important it is to stay behind your team even through the hard times," Williams said. "Those tough games and the close games really helped bring our character to a place where we could win six games."

One steady contributor for the Patriots turned in his usual solid performance. Adam Vinatieri kicked field goals of 49 and 41 yards and finished the season with 100 points, joining Denver's Jason Elam as the only NFL kickers to score that many in each of their first 10 seasons.

Brady, who finished the season with a career-high 4,010 yards passing, threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch that tied it -- after the extra point -- at 7-7, then sat down. Regular receivers joined him on the sideline.

Next Saturday, the starters will be back when the playoffs start and Brady should feel fine.

"I'd rather be out there," he said, but "it's the best I've felt coming out of the game in a long time. I don't think I got hit once."


  • Frerotte threw his career-high 18th touchdown pass.
  • Brady's 37 yards passing were the fewest of his career.
  • New England won at least 10 games for the fifth consecutive season.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Ricky Williams, overpowing Hank Poteat, rushes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Ricky Williams, overpowing Hank Poteat, rushes for 108 yards and a touchdown. (AP)


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Sun. Jan. 1Final
Scoring Summary
TDRicky Williams, 2 Yd run (Olindo Mare kick is good), 3:59. Drive: 12 plays, 83 yards in 5:14.
TDDeion Branch, 11 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Adam Vinatieri kick is good), 0:58. Drive: 6 plays, 24 yards in 3:01.
FGOlindo Mare 36 Yd, 5:51. Drive: 11 plays, 35 yards in 6:03.
FGOlindo Mare 38 Yd, 0:38. Drive: 11 plays, 44 yards in 4:06.
FGAdam Vinatieri 49 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 5 plays, 38 yards in 0:38.
FGOlindo Mare 41 Yd, 8:57. Drive: 12 plays, 54 yards in 6:03.
FGAdam Vinatieri 33 Yd, 4:41. Drive: 9 plays, 46 yards in 4:16.
SAFETYMatt Cassel fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone, 1:24.
TDMarty Booker, 15 Yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Olindo Mare kick is good), 9:07. Drive: 8 plays, 51 yards in 3:51.
TDTim Dwight, 9 Yd pass from Matt Cassel (Doug Flutie kick is good), 6:10. Drive: 5 plays, 54 yards in 2:57.
FGOlindo Mare 42 Yd, 1:55. Drive: 9 plays, 36 yards in 4:15.
TDBen Watson, 9 Yd pass from Matt Cassel (Matt Cassel 2 Pt. Conversion pass to Brandon Childress failed), 0:00. Drive: 11 plays, 62 yards in 1:55.
Players of the Game

M. Cassel
Att 20
Comp 11
Yds 168
TD 2

R. Williams
Rush 28
Yds 108
Avg 3.9
TD 1
G. Frerotte22/3523910
R. Williams2810819
R. Brown82106
G. Frerotte41908
M. Booker786118
C. Chambers575020
R. McMichael53509
W. Welker220011
R. Brown21307
L. Diamond110010
New England
M. Cassel11/2016820
T. Brady3/83711
P. Pass926011
M. Cassel51309
K. Faulk61205
H. Evans6703
T. Brady1202
T. Dwight1-50-5
A. Davis247036
B. Watson239130
T. Dwight226117
H. Evans224019
D. Branch219111
D. Givens118018
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
STL 20 Final
DAL 10
WAS 31 Final
PHI 20
SEA 17 Final
GB 23
HOU 17 Final
SF 20
TEN 13 Final
JAC 40
NO 13 Final
TB 27
DET 21 Final
PIT 35
BUF 26 Final
NYJ 30
CHI 10 Final
MIN 34
CIN 3 Final
KC 37
ARI 13 Final
IND 17
BAL 16 Final
CLE 20
CAR 44 Final
ATL 11
NYG 30 Final
OAK 21
DEN 23 Final
SD 7