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.
Greg and Chris discuss the Pats kicking the tires on Rolando McClain, something that shocked both of these guys. They also get into the Aaron Hernandez trial and Robert Kraft appearing as a witness last Tuesday. Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders, called the show to talk offseason free agency, Pats HOF/Parcells and more. The guys also got into the NFL schedule coming out soon and who the Pats will open with.
The intelligent and knowledgeable Aaron Schatz calls the boys to discuss the Patriots offseason, how some teams don't need to make moves in free agency to improve, the Pats HOF debate and much more.
In hour 1 on this fine Easter Sunday, Greg and Chris discuss the Patriots Hall of Fame - who's in, who's not and who should be? They also get into the NFL draft and discuss some particular names Pats fans should keep in mind with WEEI.com's Mike "Trags" Petraglia.
Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
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
Xander had the game winning hit in the bottom of the 9th to get the Red Sox on top of the Baltimore Orioles 3-2, he talked with Joe and Dave after the game about what his thought process during the at-bat was and the excitement of a walk-off.
Buster Olney of ESPN joins the guys to talk about the first two weeks of the baseball season. They discuss the struggling Red Sox rotation and the potential of the high-powered offense.
Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan after the Red Sox come back to beat the Nationals 8-7.
Cominf off a terrible game agaisnt the Capitals, Pierre McGuire discusses Claude Julien's decision to mix up the lines as well as the Bruins two remaining games.
We talk all things Bruins with the great Jack Edwards of NESN as they prepare to take on the Capitals.
In hour 2 of the Easter edition, the Sunday Skate crew discuss Reilly Smith and how he is struggling to get on track. This leads to a discussion of his much disputed new contract and Chiarelli's way of conducting team business. They get in Gregory Campbell's role on the team and if he still deserves as much ice time as he has been getting. More line discussions and a look at the B's playoff push ensue.
The latest edition of Answer The Question Kirk with Rob Bradford and Gary Tanguay.
The Celtics president of basketball operations joined the show to preview Cavs Celts.
The guys discussed the Pats draft with Todd McShay.
Kyle Draper and Sports Radio Hack Lou Merloni make up after beefing earlier in the week, Aaron Hernandez gets taken down by Larry Willmore, and our very own Christian Fauria makes his Country Music Debut
Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman joins the guys to defend his prediction of Celtics in 6.
After some suspicious outfield play from Red Sox Left Fielder Hanley Ramirez, the guys question whether or not he has what it takes to play in the outfield, a position he has never played before.
Michael, Jerry and Andy Hart discuss this year's Celtics as they enter the playoffs to take one of the best teams in the East in the NBA Playoffs.
We discuss the Britt McHenry suspension from ESPN, and the incident itself, and whether or not we've all had an incident like this, and whether her response was in any way appropriate.
We wrap up the day with some of the best sound of the day and the week.
Mikey Adams, joined by Lenny Megliola and Chris Villani, talks about the Red Sox home opening win at Fenway and the Bruins fallout after missing the playoffs including the future of Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Mut opens his show talking about the New York Jets filing tampering charges on the Patriots
Ben and Sam are joined by Julian Edlow from WEEI.com to give their predictions on every series in the NBA Playoffs.
Jerry is joined by hockey writer Brian "Rear Admiral" McGonagle of Barstool Sports to perform a post-mortem on what happened to the 2014-15 Bruins, who's to blame and where the team goes from here.
Ben and Alex break down Leg 1 of the quarter finals of the Champions League and talk about some of the most interesting transfer rumors.
The Celtics president of basketball operations joined the show to preview Cavs Celts.More from this show
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington joined the show to discuss the start of the season.More from this show