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.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia talks to former federal prosecutor John Down about the NFL's discipline process and what should be changed.
We check in with Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater on a Patriots Monday as the Patriots prepare for their fourth pre-season game, and are 10 days away from opening the 2015 season.
We check in with the head coach of the Patriots on a Pats Monday to get his take on the win over Carolina, pre-season game number four, and the numerous cuts to the team's roster he must make in the upcoming weeks.
Jay King of Masslive.com joins the show to break down the performance of the Celtics during the NBA Summer League. Then Ben and Sam discuss the exciting possibility of a Space Jam sequel.
Michael joins Ben and Sam to discuss the wild NBA Free Agency period and the upcoming Celtics season.
How long will this rebuild take? How much money will it take to keep Bae Crowder? Are Draft Picks even worth anything? With the Danny Ainge not landing any big names in the draft, and unable to lure any big names in free agency, Sam and Ben discussed if the Celtics are doomed moving forward.
We check in for our weekly visit with the interim Sox manager.
Joe Castiglione & Lou Merloni talked to the Sox outfielder, who had three hits and threw out a runner at home in the win over the Yankees.
Butch and John are talking Red Sox on the Sunday Sports Roundtable. They get into the current state of the rotation and how things have improved as of late. Joe Kelly has been on fire, but is he a trade asset? The guys discuss the starting pitchers that will be free agents this year and if any are good fits in Boston. Then they move on to the decision to let Orsillo go in favor of Dave O'Brien - Tomase has an interesting perspective on this topic.
Don Sweeney, who was hired as the Bruins general manager yesterday speaks with Dale and Holley about his new position and where the Bruins go from here.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
Jason defended himself against Minihane.
The top stories of the day.
Former NFL running back Eddie George is upset that Judge Berman overturned Tom Brady's suspension and is speaking out, calling Tom Brady a cheater.
The guys continue to embrace the breaking news and listen to comments from Tedy Bruschi who happily reacts to the news that his former teammate is eligible to play on Opening Night.
Adam Schefter joins the show to talk about the breaking news that Tom Brady's suspension has been overturned, and gives his inside opinion on the result.
Now that the ruling has been overturned, Dale and Holley with Thornton check in with the legal analyst that was at the forefront of this case... SI's Michael McCann
Now that Brady is free, here's a recap of a good amount of the hate they faced the last 8 months.
We discuss Bob McNair's now infamous quotes about the Patriots, and how his comments, uniformed as they may be, are probably representative of other NFL owners, and thus the reason Roger Goodell can push forward with this situation without worrying about blowback from the owners.
Chris Villani and John Tomase discuss Tom Brady's suspension getting overturned by Judge Richard Berman and discuss in hindsight how obvious this should have been.
Mikey Adams and Lenny Megliola discuss the Thursday federal court decision to overturn Tom Brady's DeflateGate punishment.
Mikey Adams and Lenny Megliola discuss Jackie Bradley Jr, Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, and who should play where. Also, the current outfield in context with Sox history.
WEEI.com's Chris Price and Mike Petraglia discuss Tom Brady beating the NFL in court and the final roster cuts for the Patriots heading into the 2015 season.
With the transfer window coming to a close, Ben, Russ & Alex hand out transfer grades for each Premier League team. They also discuss the Revs recent surge and debate if it will continue this weekend.
Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable are joined this week by special guests Jim Callis of MLB.com and Rob Bradford of WEEI.com to discuss what new GM Dave Dombrowski will do with his new prospect system. Also, do the Sox really have the best Farm system in baseball? Finally, Ken travels to Lowell to chat with Spinners' catcher Austin Rei and manager Joe Oliver.
McCann gave us his thoughts on yesterday's proceedings.More from this show