FOXBORO -- Stephen Gostkowski hit his second field goal of the day from 42 yards with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter to give the Patriots their first lead while Tom Brady scored on two quarterback sneaks as New England rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat the Dolphins, 27-24, on Christmas Eve at Gillette Stadium. The win improves the Patriots to 12-3 and clinches a first-round bye in the upcoming AFC playoffs.

FOXBORO -- Already reeling from the sudden loss of starting left tackle Matt Light before the game to a leg problem, the Patriots were dealt another blow in the first quarter as they lost Logan Mankins to a knee injury. The team announced his return as questionable. 

Mankins was taking Light's spot at left tackle, making his first career start at the position and his first since his college days at Fresno State. 

FOXBORO -- After testing out an apparent leg injury, Matt Light was among the seven Patriots scratched for Saturday's Christmas Eve tilt with the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Light was on the field about two hours before kickoff, working on drop-back drills, while constantly looking down at his right leg. 

Joining Light as inactive are safety Patrick Chung, linebacker Brandon Spikes, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer, running back Shane Vereen, defensive lineman Ron Brace and quarterback Ryan Mallett. 

FOXBORO -- Just two days after signing him to a one-year contract, the Patriots Friday released safety Vincent Fuller, just one day before his potential debut against the Dolphins. 

Fuller spent most of the season on the Lions' injured reserve before being released this week by Detroit, allowing him to sign and immediately play somewhere else. The Patriots picked him up on Wednesday and he was limited in practice Wednesday, Thursday and in Friday's walkthrough. 

FOXBORO -- For the second straight day, Brandon Spikes and Sebastian Vollmer were the only Patriots missing at practice as the team wrapped up preparations for the Dolphins Saturday at Gillette Stadium with their weekly day-before-game walkthrough. The team listed Vollmer as doubtful, while Spikes and 14 others - including Patrick Chung - were questionable. 

NFL analyst Michael Lombardi, in his weekly interview on the Dennis & Callahan Show, suggested that he couldn't see an AFC team other than the Patriots or Steelers advancing to the Super Bowl. Lombardi suggested that the two teams feature an offensive explosiveness that no other team can match in the conference.

FOXBORO – Don’t worry, Patriots fans -- the defense won’t matter. I’m here to tell you that the team has learned from the last two years and the playoff losses to the Ravens and Jets.



MIKE PETRAGLIA

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Here are the 10 matchups we’ll be looking for in Saturday’s game between the Patriots and Dolphins:

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL



FOXBORO -- Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and new safety Vincent Fuller were among those limited on Thursday, in the team's final full practice as they prepare for the Dolphins Saturday afternoon. Aaron Hernandez returned to full participation Thursday after missing Wednesday with a non-injury related matter and was removed from the injury report. Linebacker Brandon Spikes missed Thursday as the team continues to monitor his right knee.

Danny Woodhead (abdomen) and Ryan Wendell (calf) were also completely removed from the injury report for the first time in several weeks.

FOXBORO -- On an ideal December day at Gillette Stadium, tight end Aaron Hernandez and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis returned to practice on Thursday as the team continues preparations for the Dolphins Saturday afternoon in Foxboro. Hernandez missed Wednesday's practice with a non-injury related matter while Green-Ellis was execused due to an illness. 

The team practice in sweats and shells on the main stadium field.