Final, Patriots 38-7: That was a complete dismantling, and it was never even close. The Patriots had a 14-point lead 11 minutes into the game, and they were on cruise control from there on out. New England improves to 14-2, and the Dolphins finish the year at 7-9.
Fourth quarter, 2:11, Patriots 38-7: Davone Bess made one heck of a touchdown grab, and he then celebrated like he won the Super Bowl. The Dolphins have a little case of the Jets’ disease, it seems.
Fourth quarter, 12:23, Patriots 38-0: Rob Ninkovich is having another great day against his former team. He just recorded his second sack of the day, and he’s got a fumble recovery, too.
Fourth quarter, Patriots 38-0: BenJarvus Green-Ellis got a 10-yard gain to give him 1,008 rushing yards this season, and he went to the sideline after the play (a failed fourth down) and was immediately hugged by Bill Belichick, who shared a congratulatory message. The Gillette Stadium public-address announcer also recognized Green-Ellis’ accomplishment, and he was greeted with a loud ovation from the crowd.
End of third quarter, Patriots 38-0: This has basically turned out exactly how we all expected it to, and with 15 minutes remaining in the regular season, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 996 rushing yards. He’s gotten a steady dose of carries on this drive, as Bill Belichick has made an obvious attempt to push him toward 1,000. It could happen any time now.
Third quarter, 4:55, Patriots 38-0: The Patriots held the Dolphins again, and their second unit (as much as there can be a second unit with a 45-man roster) is dismantling the Dolphins’ starters. BenJarvus Green-Ellis enters this series with 973 rushing yards on the season.
Third quarter, 6:33, Patriots 38-0: Holy cow, Brian Hoyer got absolutely demolished, but he hung in the pocket just long enough to deliver a 42-yard strike to a diving Brandon Tate, who landed in the end zone to give Hoyer the first touchdown pass of his career. That was an amazing throw and catch, and Hoyer sprinted down the field to celebrate with his teammates. That was good stuff.
Third quarter, 10:15, Patriots 31-0: Brian Hoyer has replaced Tom Brady, and Brady is wearing a winter hat on the sideline. The first time he was replaced, he kept his helmet on, so if that is any indication whatsoever, Brady’s day is finally done. Well-played, Bill Belichick. Well-played indeed.
Third quarter, 11:30, Patriots 31-0: Tom Brady hit Alge Crumpler for a 10-yard touchdown to give Crumpler two touchdowns in as many games. With a big drive to start the half — aided by the Dolphins’ woeful tackling efforts — I have to believe Brady is done for the game. He took a shot low on the legs from Kendall Langford on that series, and there’s just no reason for Brady to remain in the game. I like the way Bill Belichick has managed the starters so far, but they’ve proven their worth Sunday. It’s time to turn it over to Brian Hoyer.
Third quarter, 14:55, Patriots 24-0: Tom Brady is back on the field for the start of the second half. The Patriots have failed to score on three straight possessions in which they’ve received the second-half kickoff, and you can bet Bill Belichick is aware of that.
Halftime, Patriots 24-0: BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 34 yards in the first half to give him 962 on the season.
Halftime, Patriots 24-0: The last time the Patriots returned a punt for a touchdown, it was the 2001 season finale (Troy Brown) prior to having a first-round bye and winning the Super Bowl. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
Second quarter, 0:18, Patriots 24-0: The Patriots are just bullying the Dolphins’ special teamers. Julian Edelman had a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown, which set a franchise record. That was a beautiful return, and it was the Patriots’ ninth non-offensive touchdown of the season, which tied a team record.
Second quarter, 1:41, Patriots 17-0: Shayne Graham hit a 28-yard field goal, and he’s hit all 12 of his field-goal attempts this season, which is the most makes without a miss in the NFL. Mark LeVoir also replaced Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle during that series.
Second quarter, 4:29, Patriots 14-0: Eric Moore forced Ricky Williams to fumble, and Rob Ninkovich recovered to give the Patriots the ball at their 41, and Tom Brady is back on the field.
Second quarter, 8:14, Patriots 14-0: Brian Hoyer ran three plays before calling a timeout at the line of scrimmage, and he was replaced by Tom Brady for one play — a failed third down — and Brady ended up getting hit. The Dolphins are going to attack Brady for as long as he’s in the game.
Second quarter, 9:39, Patriots 14-0: Brian Hoyer has relieved Tom Brady during the Patriots’ fifth series of the game. Brady got his team out to a 14-point lead, and his streak is now in Hoyer’s hands.
Second quarter, 11:12, Patriots 14-0: Tom Brady is out for his fifth series, and Matt Light is back on the field at left tackle. I wonder if he got dinged up, or if that was a Bill Belichick special with one of those sporadic substitutions that I wrote about earlier. On the last series, Devin McCourty was on the sideline for first and second down, but he went in for a third-down sub package. Darius Butler, who has gotten a lot of playing time Sunday, was at left cornerback for McCourty.
Second quarter, 12:50, Patriots 14-0: Quinn Ojinnaka replaced Matt Light at left tackle for the last series. It doesn’t look like an injury for Light — just a rest thing.
Second quarter, 14:20: Patriots 14-0: Tom Brady will play his fourth series of the game. I wonder if he heads to the bench in a conventional way, or if Bill Belichick sporadically pulls him in the middle of a series to keep Brian Hoyer on his toes. By the way, Jerod Mayo had a nice sack on the last series, torpedoing through the middle of the line, getting tripped up and then wrapping his arms around Chad Henne’s legs while crawling through the pocket.
End of first quarter, Patriots 14-0: There was an obvious difference in these two teams in the first quarter. The Patriots look like a team that is gearing up for the playoffs, and the Dolphins look like a team that is ready to turn it in for the winter.
First quarter, 4:12, Patriots 14-0: BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored on a one-yard touchdown run — his 13th score of the season– and he’s got 23 yards in the first quarter to give him 951 yards this season. Tick, tick, tick, he’s closing in on 1,000.
First quarter, 4:30, Patriots 7-0: Danny Woodhead suffered an injury when he fumbled, and after being tended to on the bench by the medical staff, one of the trainers walked away with his helmet, so his day appears to be done. The team announced Woodhead has a head injury, which almost always means it’s a concussion.
First quarter, 6:03, Patriots 7-0: Remember when Dan Carpenter was good at kicking field goals? Carpenter just pulled a 40-yarder, and the Patriots take over at their own 30, and Tom Brady is in the huddle for their third possession.
First quarter, 8:51, Patriots 7-0: Tom Brady led the offense onto the field for their second possession, but Danny Woodhead fumbled it away to end the turnover-free streak. Didn’t see that one coming. Miami takes over at the New England 34.
First quarter, 10:30, Patriots 7-0: There was an audible level of excitement every time BenJarvus Green-Ellis touched the ball on the opening drive. The crowd really wants him to hit 1,000 rushing yards, and with three carries for 15 yards, he’s got 943 this season.
First quarter, 10:36, Patriots 7-0: No Welker or Branch, no problem. Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 13-yard touchdown, and Gronkowski set a new Patriots rookie record with his 10th touchdown of the season. Brady has become the sixth player in history to throw a touchdown pass in all 16 games of a regular season, so that’s pretty good.
First quarter, 13:05, 0-0: Devin McCourty jumped in front of a pass intended for Brandon Marshall and ripped away his seventh interception of the season. McCourty is good at football.
First quarter, 14:54, 0-0: Patrick Cobbs returned the opening kickoff to the Miami 28, and this thing is in business.
1:00 p.m.: The Dolphins called heads and lost the toss, and the Patriots elected to defer. They’ll receive the second-half kickoff for the 11th time this season.
12:41 p.m.: This is the first time this season that the Patriots have listed players as doubtful on their final injury report of the week, and all three — Mike Wright, Dan Connolly and Ron Brace — are inactive. Also, with two of the five questionable players in uniform, 22 of the 50 players listed as questionable have been able to play this season. And Wes Welker joined Brandon Deaderick (Week 1) and Terrence Wheatley (Week 6) as the only players who didn’t play after being listed as probable. On the season, 35 of 38 Patriots have played after being listed as probable.
12:31 p.m.: Defensive lineman Myron Pryor is returning to action after missing seven consecutive games with a back injury, and with the likelihood that Vince Wilfork’s snaps will be limited, Pryor could get some serious playing time. Here are some more details on New England’s inactive list.
11:41 a.m.: Wide receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch highlight the Patriots’ inactive list, which also includes tight end Aaron Hernandez, right guard Dan Connolly, linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, defensive lineman Mike Wright, defensive lineman Ron Brace and defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick. More details to follow.
10:53 a.m.: It has started to rain pretty good here at Gillette. There are a lot of security attendants on the field wearing ponchos.
10:17 a.m.: Dan Connolly went back inside after about a 15-minute workout. He wasn’t with any of the team’s medical staff, so it looks like he was working out on his own, which means it’s still unlikely he’ll play Sunday. Either way, it’s the first visible sign of progress that Connolly has made since suffering a concussion.
10:12 a.m.: Patriots right guard Dan Connolly is working out on the game field in sweats and a hat, so that’s a really good sign. He hasn’t practiced since suffering a concussion two weeks ago against the Packers, and he’d need to pass a concussion test in order to play Sunday. Connolly has been jogging from sideline to sideline for the last few minutes. There aren’t any trainers in his immediate vicinity, so he could just be working out on his own.
10:00 a.m.: Just arrived at Gillette Stadium, where it’s warm and cloudy. There’s a ton of fog in the area, paricularly around the 95 split, but it’s clear inside the stadium.
8 a.m.: The Patriots and Dolphins will be going through the motions Sunday in a game that is worth less than the paper the standings are printed on.
But here are two important things to keep an eye on: First, Tom Brady holds an NFL record with 27 consecutive wins in regular-season starts at home. If he starts Sunday, his streak will be on the line, even if he is relieved by Brian Hoyer after one play.
Second, the Dolphins have the same record as the Raiders, whose first-round draft pick belongs to the Patriots. If the Dolphins win Sunday, it could help the Patriots’ draft position.