FOXBORO, Mass. — The Miami Dolphins outplayed the New England Patriots in the first half — then Rob Gronkowski happened.
The tight end went off in the second half, as the Patriots set a franchise record for points in the third quarter with 24. The Patriots clinched the AFC East championship for the 12th time under head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady by beating the Dolphins 41-13.
All three phases of the game stood out for the Patriots in their hats-and-T-shirts win, so check out the stars of the game:
The Patriots tight end didn’t catch his first pass until the second half, but he made it count when he finally got in on the action, pulling in three catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter.
It seems like Bill Belichick’s mocking over kitten pictures didn’t keep Gronk down for long.
PATRICK CHUNG AND DURON HARMON
Harmon pulled in a key interception in the second quarter on a Ryan Tannehill pass that slipped through receiver Brandon Gibson’s hands. Harmon brought the pick back 60 yards to the Dolphins’ 8-yard line.
Chung also pulled in a key interception in the third quarter. Chung deflected another pass on the Patriots’ next defensive play.
The Patriots use all four of their safeties, including Devin McCourty and Tavon Wilson, and let them play to their individual strengths. It’s working so far.
Edelman scored his second touchdown in two games, hauling in an 8-yarder from Brady to put the Patriots up 38-13.
Edelman had seven catches for 88 yards on the afternoon, as he continues pace for another 100-catch, 1,000-yard season.
The Patriots kicker set a new franchise record for scoring, as he passed Adam Vinatieri in the third quarter with a field goal. Gostkowski finished the afternoon with 1,164 career points.
Collins also was consistently able to get pressure on Tannehill, and he deserves credit for half of Sealver Siliga’s sack after tripping up the Dolphins quarterback.
Defensive end Chandler Jones, off a hip injury, recorded 1.5 sacks. Rob Ninkovich recorded his eighth sack of the season.