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.
Rodney Harrison of NBC Sports previews Pats-Bills and the rest of the NFL.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated joins the show to talk about the Patriots clinching homefield advantage and who the AFC is contenders.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the Patriots' approach for Sunday's game against Buffalo, a game rendered essentially meaningless now that the Patriots have clinched the No. 1 seed.
Jackie MacMullen, ESPN Boston, talks with MFB about Rondo being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and how this will have an effect on the Celtics rebuild process
How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...
Sam and Ben talk with Greg Dickerson about how fun this year's Celtics team is to watch as well Jeff Green trade ideas.
Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester. Jon talks about his experiences with free agency, what it would have taken to sign him to the Red Sox last season, and his experiences with fans since signing with the Cubs.
Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with newly signed Red Sox pitcher, Wade Miley. They talk about the story that came out about the D-Backs wanting him to switch to a gluten-free diet, and what he expects coming from the N.L. West to the A.L. East.
The boys are back at it, Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with former Red Sox pitcher and new Chicago Cub Jon Lester, they then talk with new Red Sox pitcher and ongoing consumer of gluten, Wade Miley.
Pierre joins the show to talk about the Bruins-Wild game, Bruins trade rumors, and the rest of the NHL.
Jack Edwards talks with Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton and drops the bomb on us that based on how the standings look now, the Bruins could miss the playoffs this season.
Pierre joins the guys to talk about the Bruins and all things NHL
Rodney Harrison joins Ben Volin and Danny Piccard to talk about Pats-Bills and the rest of the NFL.
Just like on a Sunday morning in the summer, Butch Stearns and Steve Buckley hit the airwaves to talk about the Bruins win last night, and Patriots possibly resting starters against Buffalo this Sunday.
Nancy Frates called in to discuss her son Pete and her granddaughter Lucy.
A Christmas eve edition of "The Price is Right," Chris Price of WEEI.com makes some predictions for the Patriots Sunday afternoon tilt against the visiting Buffalo Bills.
Andy Brickley joined the show to talk about the Bruins, who are in the midst of a 3-game winning streak. The team clearly has deficiencies and may need to make a few moves before the deadline.
Bradford asks everyone who will listen, "Who's the most famous person to use your bathroom?"
Bruins Play-by-Play announcer breaks down the Bruins season so far.
For each of the 4 major sports teams, we give our naughty and nice lists.
Jerry and DJ are out to prove that this Christmas classic is one of the creepiest songs of all-time
Kay comes into the show to try out for the textress role on the program. We learn about her favorite sports and fondness for Rajon Rondo.
Mikey, Mut, Lenny and Kerry Byrne are taling Patriots-Jets and the potential end of Rex Ryan's coaching career with the team.
Tonight marks 9 straight years of the Planet Mikey Show. We play some sound from the takeover which got Planet Mikey rolling .
DJ and Scott reveal the greatest Christmas song of all time: Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs." They also discuss the Christmas outrage of Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs" being left off Rumours.
Scott McLaughlin of WEEI and Chris Peters of CBS’ Eye on Hockey preview this year’s World Junior Championship and break down Team USA’s strengths and weaknesses. The U.S. opens the tournament against Finland on Friday.
Sam and Ben react to the Rondo trade and talk about the top 5 players in the NBA. The Celtics get their 2014 superlatives.
NBC Sports analyst, Rodney Harrison, joined the show to talk about how he doesn't think Bill Belichick should rest the starters in week 17. He also warned against falling asleep on the Denver Broncos, Brady's durability, the Bengals and the Seahawks.More from this show