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.
The guys react to what Don Banks had to say and get into some more thoughts on Deflategate. Are McNally and Jastremski ever going to break their silence and give their side of the story? Price says yes ... eventually.
Don Banks talks with the NFL Sunday boys about his reaction to Brady's appeal, where we go from here and the NFL's motives and decisions throughout the process. He also gets into the Pats offseason so far and their weakness at CB. Don gives his take on the AFC East this year and how some of the Pats' rivals have improved.
Greg and Price discuss their thoughts on some of the reports that have leaked after Tuesday from Brady's appeal hearing. The boys talk about what the reaction will be if Brady decides to accept a 1-game suspension. Fans want a complete exoneration, but there's a good chance that they won't get that - how will they react? They also talk with Mike Petraglia and get his thought on the appeal and more.
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.
Sam is joined by Jared Weiss from The Garden Report and CLNS Radio to breakdown game 4 of Cavs-Warriors, preview game 5 on Sunday, and analyze the Celtics needs this off-season.
Greg Dickerson and John Tomase discuss the amazing season for the Celts and if they have any chance against Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs in a seven game series. If they do, HOW ... how do they get it done?
Joe Castiglione and Rob Bradford talk with David Ortiz after the Red Sox take game 2 of their four game series with Toronto. David talks about the good pitching they've gotten and the offense finding their way.
Joe & Dave talked to the Sox third baseman, who hit a homer and knocked in two runs in the win in Tampa Bay.
Joe & Dave talked to the Sox center fielder, who was a single short of the cycle in the blowout win in Kansas City.
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!
Curt Schilling joined us to discuss the state of the Red Sox.
Doug defended the merits of Boston 2024.
Chris Dempsey explained why Boston 2024 does not make sense for our city.
Lou, Christian and Tim speak with Steve Pagliuca about the 2024 Olympic bid in Boston, and some of the skepticism in the city regarding the cost of the project.
ESPN Insider, Buster Olney, related some stories from the 2001 World Series where Andy Pettite was tipping his pitches to the eventual World Champion Arizona Diamonbacks.
Lou, Christian, and Tim start the show discussing last night's bounce-back performance from Eduardo Rodriguez. But the focal point of the discussion was whether or not it was wrong of NESN to show images of E-Rod tipping his pitches, and specifically which pitches he threw when his chin was tucked into his chest in different ways.
Dale, Michael and Jerry do the postgame for another Sox stinker, and find there is much more interest in how the Bruins and Celtics can build their teams after interesting off-seasons.
We wrap up the day with some of the best in sound that you may have missed throughout the day.
Dale, Michael and Jerry discuss the new contract signed by Dougie Hamilton with the Calgary Flames, and why there's a pattern of guys in their prime wanting out (or being forced out) of the Bruins organization.
Danny's early thoughts on Celtics drafting Terry Rozier at the 16th pick
Planet Mikey, joined by Chris Villani, Lenny Megliola, and the Textress Lucy, discuss whether Mikey Adams should have tipped Best Buy's Geek Squad after delivering his new TV. Also, the state of the Red Sox after losing another series to the Baltimore Orioles.
Minutes after the Boston Celtics selected Louisville guard Terry Rozier with the 16th pick in the NBA Draft, WEEI's Greg Dickerson joined Mikey Adams, Chris Villani, and Lenny Megliola to give their thoughts.
Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable are joined by special guests Mike Mutnansky of the Red Sox Radio Network and Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers to talk Sox prospects. What do the struggles of Rusney Castillo and Rick Porcello in the majors mean? Also, the international signing period begins July 2, looking back at past Latin American signings. And June selections for affiliate players of the month
Dino, Gerry and Gary discuss which celebrities make the most money.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Gary Tanguay.More from this show
Curt Schilling joined us to discuss the state of the Red Sox.More from this show
The guys discussed Jim Bowden's column on trade possibilities for the Red Sox and Hanley.More from this show