FOXBORO -- Stevan Ridley ran for a pair of touchdowns and Tom Brady threw for two more Sunday as the Patriots took advantage of a Houston loss earlier in the day and clinched a first-round bye with a 28-0 win over the Dolphins at a frigid Gillette Stadium. Brady was 22-of-36 for 284 yards, including 23-yard touchdown strike to Rob Gronkowski. The tight end had two catches for 42 yards on four targets in his return from a broken left forearm. The Patriots defense was a force on the day, racking up a season-high seven sacks, including three from rookie Justin Francis.
The Patriots began the game with the knowledge that the Colts beat the Texans, 28-16, in Indianapolis, and that a win in the 12-degree wind chill would give them the week off. The Patriots recorded their first shutout since Oct. 18, 2009, when they blanked Tennessee, 59-0.
Given the motivation of a first-round bye and break next weekend, the Patriots raced out to a 21-0 halftime lead. After Steve Gregory intercepted Ryan Tannehill and returned it 13 yards to the Miami 28, Brady connected with Gronkowski for 19 yards down to the Miami 9. It was the tight end's first catch since breaking his left forearm on Nov. 18. On the next play, Brady connected with a wide open Wes Welker over the middle for his 48th straight game with a touchdown pass, passing Johnny Unitas for second place on the all-time list.
Brady engineered a pair of long scoring drives in the second quarter, including a 92-yard drive in 13 plays, consuming 7:28 of the second quarter clock. The long scoring drive was capped off by a 1-yard TD run by Stevan Ridley on fourth-and-goal from the Miami 1. Ridley added a 2-yard TD run later in the second quarter to put the Patriots up, 21-0.
The only bit of bad news in the first half was the loss of pass-rushing specialist Rob Ninkovich to a hip injury midway through the second quarter. Ninkovich was down on the ground for several minutes before being helped off the field by medical personnel, including team doctor Tom Gill. He was listed as questionable but did not return.
The Dolphins appeared to be ready to get on the scoreboard but Reggie Bush fumbled at the Patriots 4 and Dont'a Hightower recovered at the 1 to keep Miami off the scoreboard. The Patriots made it 28-0 when Brady hit Gronkowski down the left seam midway through the fourth quarter.
The Patriots will have the luxury of watching the playoffs at home next weekend before opening the postseason in two weeks against one of three possible opponents -- the Texans, Ravens or Colts -- at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots finish the regular season at 12-4 and complete a perfect season in the AFC East (6-0) for just the second time in franchise history.
Denver (13-3) routed Kansas City Sunday to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and home field throughout. The playoffs will open next weekend with the No. 6 Bengals visiting No. 3 Houston and the No. 5 Colts playing in Baltimore against the No. 4 Ravens.
Dale, Michael and Jerry dig into the details of this draft for the Patriots with ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Giardi and Price discuss the Tom Brady appeal getting overturned and Roger Goodell's victory tour. The guys can't believe the victory lap and some of his behavior. The more you listen to him, the more frustrating his behavior becomes.
Giardi and Price break down how the teams in the AFC East altered their futures after the NFL Draft weekend.
Jeff Goodman calls Mike and Rob to drop a ton of knowledge on the upcoming NBA Draft and some of the names available. Sorry fans - he doesn't see Kevin Durant or any big-named free agents coming to Boston and thinks they'll end up making the third pick this season. He also says that there is NO WAY he would trade next year's Brooklyn pick because the draft will be very deep. He discusses the chances of trading with Philly for Okafor, why he like Kris Dunn so much and much more.
Brad Stevens makes his first appearance on the Dale and Holley with Thornton show. We discuss the Atlanta series and what went wrong, and where the Celtics go from here.
Ian Thomsen of NBA.com joined Sam Packard and Jared Weiss to discuss the next moves for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics with the NBA Draft Lottery rapidly approaching. They discussed the crazy ending to Game 2 of Thunder vs Spurs and picked the player they would build their pretend new franchise around.
Danny Picard recaps the Red Sox 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.
Who is to blame for the Red Sox 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays? Danny points the finger.
Tim talks with Red Sox manager John Farrell before the Red Sox game against the Blue Jays. John talks about Clay Buchholz move to the bullpen and adjustments he expects him to have to make going from the starter to the bullpen.
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Butch is joined by two-thirds of the Sunday Skate show in DJ and Pete. The guys discuss the problems with Bruins including leadership and grit, who should stay and who should go and if Claude is to blame.
Lucy's parting shot after not taking the job is to attack Dino for how he treats producers.
Bernie Sanders wants to debate Trump.
Yaz was on hand at Fenway last night to honor the '86 team and Wade Boggs' number retirement.
Laroy Streat keeps setting fire to the airways and talks people singing his Freestyle Fridays to him when they see him on the street! Catch our guy every friday via final drive! He's must listen radio!
We end the week with the best in sound Laroy Streat continues to set fire to the airways with his music.
The guys talk Red Sox pitching and the problems that could arise with Buchholz struggles.
Jerry is joined by Graig Murphy to talk stand up comedy. Until Graig pretty much hijacks the podcast to tell his side of the "Big Show Unfiltered" story.
Ben and Russ preview the Champions League Final between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. Who we want to win, who we think will win, and why. We also talk about our wishes for the USMNT.
The Dennis and Callahan malcontent is joined by former WEEI personality Pete Sheppard to talk about his past involvement with the station and his current gig in New Hampshire. You'll be glad to hear Pete hasn't changed one bit.
Deflategate rage explodes on the guys. They argue whether Brady is dragging it out or he should defend his innocence and the callers get in on the action.More from this show