Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez combined for 20 catches and 200 yards receiving, and Stevan Ridley ran for a touchdown, as the Patriots beat the Dolphins, 23-16, Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. The win clinches New England's fourth straight AFC East title and their 10th in 12 seasons and their 12th straight winning season.
By virtue of winning the division, the Patriots assure themselves of at least one home game in the playoffs. Tom Brady was sacked four times but still finished 24-of-40 for 238 yards while Ridley ran it 19 times for 71 yards and went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. Welker finished with 12 catches on 18 targets and 103 yards, his 28th career 100-yard receiving game and his 16th with at least 10 catches. Hernandez added eight grabs on 13 targets and 97 yards.
Trevor Scott, filling in for the suspended Jermaine Cunningham, had a key strip-sack in the first half and finished with two sacks on the day.
The Patriots took immediate advantage of Miami's first big mistake of the day, a botched punt snap after a three-and-out. Five plays after Matthew Slater tackled punter Brandon Fields at the Miami 12, Ridley bounced off the left side of the offensive line and ran it in for a two-yard touchdown.
Brady had his streak of passes attempted without an interception snapped at 202 when Reshad Jones picked off a pass intended for Aaron Hernandez on the right sideline. The Patriots managed to hold the Dolphins to a 44-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter, cutting New England's lead to 7-3 late in the first quarter.
Welker dominated the first half offensively for the Patriots, catching nine passes on 12 targets for 82 yards and a 7-yard TD on a slip screen that made it 14-3 in the second quarter. He also went over 1,000 yards receiving this season in the first half, his fourth straight season of reaching the milestone.
After a Scott strip sack and Vince Wilfork fumble recovery, the Patriots added to their lead on a 43-yard field goal from a struggling Stephen Gostkowski, who missed from 49 yards early in the game. That miss was his fourth in five attempts before connecting in the second quarter.
The Dolphins gained some valuable momentum before halftime when Ryan Tannehill orchestrated a 12-play, 80-yard drive, consuming more than six minutes. Tannehill capped it with a spectacular leaping dive into the end zone on the bootleg from two yards out with 25 seconds left before the half.
Brady was 15-of-26 in the first half but the Patriots ran the ball only seven times for 11 yards.
The Patriots appeared on the verge of a two-touchdown advantage when Brady hooked up with Hernandez for a 31-yard pass down to the Dolphins' 4. A facemask call put the ball at the 2. But Tom Brady was sacked twice and Welker dropped a routine pass in the end zone, as the Patriots settled for a 32-yard field goal by Gostkowski and a 20-10 lead with just over 13 minutes left.
The Dolphins responded with a drive that got inside the Patriots red zone on a fourth-and-1 conversion. But a delayed blitz by Jerod Mayo on third down forced the Dolphins to settle for a 33-yard Carpenter field goal with 8:33 left, cutting the lead to 20-13.
The Patriots sealed the game with a 16-play drive that took over seven minutes, concluding with a 21-yard Gostkowski field goal.
The 9-3 Patriots are off until Dec. 10, when they host the AFC-leading Texans at Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football. The Texans improved to 11-1 Sunday with a win at Tennessee.
Adam Schefter joins MFB to talk about the latest with Roger Goodell and how he is going to handle his upcoming press conference.
Christian breaks down what the Patriots need to do to beat the Raiders this Sunday
MFB talks to Sal Cappaccio of WGR in Buffalo, Ryan Ruocco of ESPN NY, and Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Ben Cherington discussed the debut of Castillo and his thoughts on Jeter.
As the season winds down, We check in Sox skipper John Farrell as we await the Boston debut of Rusney Castillo.
The Orioles seemed to have a lot of fun last night clinching the AL East. Buster said the biggest problem for Boston this year was the offense production dropping so dramatically in one year. Bogaerts, Pierzynski, and Bradley Jr. are the most obvious culprits. Also, Buster surmises that the Red Sox front office has to be a little uneasy with the fact that their best offensive player, David Ortiz, is in this LATE 30's.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
Rodney Harrison addressed his non comments earlier in the week with MFB.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys opened the show responding to MFB's MFK.
Jerod Mayo gives Christian karaoke advice and previews the Patriots home opener.
Christian chooses his song for Karaoke tonight.
Dale, Michael (and DJ Bean) discuss the Bruins off-season and whether or not they've done enough to get back into position to win the Stanley Cup.
We discuss Ron Washington's press conference today, announcing the reason for his abrupt departure from the Texas Rangers this season, and we learn a little something about ol' Dale Arnold too.
We tackle four question marks the Bruins face for 2014-2015 as they open up training camp today.
Co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, talks about his Sam Adams beer and the history of his brewery.
Danny picard is filling in for Mikey and talks with CSNNE's Mike Giardi about Clay Buchholz heading up the Red Sox pitching rotation, and how the Patriots have looked through training camp so far.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Your beloved hosts are joined by WEEI.com Bruins reporter DJ Bean as well as producer of the Dennis & Callahan Show, Craig "Sausage" Sawisch. Support America: Support Your Local Post Office
Dennis, Callahan and Minihane make their podcast debut. This week's topics include Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Jenny Dell and some discussion on people we've encountered with the worst breath.
The 100th Minor Details podcast revisits some old friends, as WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen and MLB.com prospect guru Jim Callis, who were the guests on the first show in November 2010, join the show anew.
Rodney Harrison addressed his non comments earlier in the week with MFB.More from this show
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.More from this show