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.
We check in on the Patriots off-season with ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss. Mike updates us on Revis, McCourty, Wilfork and more.
Price calls Butch to discuss the March 2nd deadline for franchise tags, free agency and the Pats' plans going forward.
Shortly after the NFLRA released its statement demanding an apology from ESPN, Jim Quirk, the NFLRA's Executive Director, joined Mut to talk about the statement
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
We talk to Chris Mannix from SI to break down the C's acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the crazy trade deadline in the rest of the NBA.
Jessica Camerato of basketballinsiders.com joins the show to talk about Marcus Smart, the starting lineup, and trade deadline.
The one and only Rob Bradford calls Butch to discuss his early thoughts on this Red Sox team, the potential in the rotation, how the outfield will shake out and more.
David Ortiz takes a few minutes to talk with Mut, Bradford, and Tomase about some of his new teammates, who Pablo Sandoval reminds him of, and the rules aimed at speeding up the game of baseball.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are talking Red Sox spring training. and talk with Red Sox DH David Ortiz about the rules aimed at speeding up the pace of the game
In the second of Sunday Skate, DJ and Joe discuss the approaching NHL trade deadline and what the B's will do. They get into the Boychuk move at the beginning of the season and Boychuk's brother venting on Twitter this morning about complaining B's fans. There is more discussion on the 3rd and 4th lines, their playoff chances and then they are joined by ESPN's Scott Burnside.
Another edition of Sunday Skate is upon us and DJ and Joe get into the B's big win over Arizona last night and the improvement of Ryan Spooner. They get into the Blackhawks giving up a 1st round pick for C Antoine Vermette - someone the B's could certainly use but weren't willing to give up the steep price of a 1st rounder. DJ and Joe also get into Claude's willingness to switch up lines as well as the performance of the 3rd and 4th lines. Finally, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sits down with the boys.
Scott Burnside joins the boys to discuss the Bruins and the NHL trade deadline.
A look back at Dennis and Callahan's 2015 trip to spring training. They visited with Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington, Xander Bogaerts, John Farrell, Mookie Betts, Joe Kelly, Curt Schilling and Dustin Pedroia.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk are joined by Rob Bradford, Gordon Edes and Steve Buckley to forecast the 2015 campaign.
Pedroia joins the guys in Fort Myers to look at the upcoming season and his health entering the spring.
Brick joined the show to talk about the couple players that the B's added. He noted that the lack of subtractions means that the front office trusts the core group.
The Red Sox entire team wore the number 3 to honor Pete Frates. The HS team that was suspended for trying to bring awareness to breast cancer have been allowed to play. Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley are bad at karaoke, but not as bad as Joey and Christian.
With the Patriots focusing on CB Darrelle Revis, it's likely that the team will lose safety Devin McCourty or Brandon Browner. Or both.
We talk Boston Bruins with NESN's Jack Edwards, our first talk since the NHL trade deadline.
Jerry discusses the plus and minus' of the Patriots first (of many) Super Bowl DVD's
Dale and Michael briefly discuss the opening of the Marathon Bombing Trial, and how the 'Free Dhzokar' crowd will have to get a new hobby.
Mikey, Mut, and Lenny are joined by the Rev girls, who are revealing the New Revolution uniform Tuesday at the House of Blues in Boston and talking about the Revs.
Mikey, Lenny, and Maggie talk Red Sox baseball with Red Sox Hall of Famer Bill Lee, who is in Florida and out of the snow that's perpetually burying the area.
Mikey gets a call from Kirk Minihane, who wants to clear the air with Mikey and get everything settled. It goes better than you think.
Adam Himmelsbach, Celtics beat reporter for the Boston Globe, joins the show to share his love of the Brow and discuss the surging Celtics playoff chances. Then we take a field trip to the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference and analyze the data with Rick Friedman.
Chris and comedian Will Noonan discuss the events of last night's Raw.
WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin previews the opening round of the Hockey East tournament with Northeastern coach Jim Madigan and Mike McMahon of College Hockey News and The Mack Report.
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