Final, Patriots 35-17: And that will do it.
Duron Harmon picked off a desperation heave by Matt Moore in the final minutes to put the finishing touches on a 35-17 victory for the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots’ defense dominated the Miami Dolphins throughout the game, finishing with seven sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and just 10 points allowed. (Miami’s other seven came on a fumble return for a touchdown.)
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, including two to Rob Gronkowski, Dion Lewis racked up 115 yards on 12 carries, and Rex Burkhead scored one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown as the Patriots ran their winning streak to seven games.
New England did lose several players to injury, however, including Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Nate Ebner, Trevor Reilly and LaAdrian Waddle. Getting healthy now will be the No. 1 priority entering next Sunday’s road matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
Fourth quarter, 2:48, Patriots 35-17: Conservative three-and-out for the Patriots. Dolphins ball.
Fourth quarter, 5:05, Patriots 35-17: The first sack of Jonathan Jones’ career gave the Patriots six on the day, by far their most productive pass-rushing effort of the season. New England entered today with just 17 total sacks through their first 10 games.
Fourth quarter, 6:31, Patriots 35-17: That should just about do it.
Dion Lewis rumbled for 25 yards on the first play after the turnover on downs, and Brandin Cooks scored on a shovel pass from Tom Brady two plays later to add to what should be an insurmountable Patriots lead.
Lewis has 112 yards today on just 15 carries — the first 100-yard rushing performance of his NFL career.
Fourth quarter, 8:48, Patriots 28-17: Sacks by Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy and a fourth-down pass breakup by Jonathan Jones ended the Dolphins’ latest drive.
Van Noy suffered an injury on his sack, though, further taxing an already depleted Patriots defense.
Fourth quarter, 10:28, Patriots 28-17: This has been a seriously painful game for the Patriots.
Moments after the team announced Trey Flowers was questionable to return with injured ribs, right tackle LaAdrian Waddle walked very slowly off the field after suffering an apparent leg/ankle injury. Waddle was playing in place of the injured Marcus Cannon, forcing the Patriots to turn to third-stringer Cameron Fleming after he went down.
One play later, Cameron Wake blew straight past Fleming to sack Brady who had dropped a clean snap from Ted Karras. That resulted in another Ryan Allen punt.
Fourth quarter, 11:43, Patriots 28-17: The Dolphins aren’t going away.
Matt Moore connected with Kenny Stills on a beautiful 28-yard pass down the sideline on fourth-and-2, then tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to running back Kenyan Drake to finish off the drive. It was the first touchdown of the day for Miami’s offense, which before that had been able to manage just one field goal.
In more troubling news for the Patriots, Trey Flowers left the field during that drive and was taken to the locker room for evaluation. We’ll keep you updated on his condition.
Fourth quarter, 14:55, Patriots 28-10: An unsuccessful fourth-down conversion gave the ball back to the Dolphins. They’ll take over on their own 27.
Patriots linebacker Trevor Reilly, who took a hard hit to the head earlier in the game, has been downgraded to out. Trey and Marquis Flowers, meanwhile, both are back in the game.
Third quarter, 3:00, Patriots 28-10: In their best pass-rushing sequence of the game so far, the Patriots sacked Matt Moore on back-to-back plays to force a Dolphins punt.
The second sack might prove costly for New England, however, as Marquis Flowers and Trey Flowers both needed medical attention after teaming up to bring down Moore. Marquis Flowers’ injury appeared to be more serious, as he was taken to the sideline medical tent while Trey Flowers jogged to the bench.
Elandon Roberts tallied the first sack — the first of his career.
Third quarter, 5:05, Patriots 28-10: The Patriots picked up a first down when the Dolphins jumped offsides on third-and-5, but they couldn’t convert. It’s now Miami ball after Ryan Allen’s first punt of the game.
Third quarter, 8:29, Patriots 28-10: Another big play by the Patriots’ defense gives the ball back to New England.
The duo of Kyle Van Noy and Trey Flowers teamed up to knock the ball out of the hands of Kenyan Drake, and Patrick Chung pounced on the loose ball — his second fumble recovery in two games.
Drake’s fumble came after fellow Dolphins running back Damien Williams was taken off the field on a cart.
Third quarter, 13:23, Patriots 28-10: After a chippy drive that included two defensive personal fouls and an ejection, Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski in the end zone for the second time today.
The latest Brady-Gronk connection was a 15-yard score that added some extra cushion to New England’s lead. This is Gronkowski’s 16th career multi-touchdown game, surpassing Randy Moss’ mark of 15 to set a new franchise record.
The celebration wasn’t bad, either.
Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain, who intercepted a Tom Brady pass in the second quarter, was ejected earlier in the drive for throwing a punch at wide receiver Danny Amendola. This game is getting chippier by the minute, as one would expect in a matchup between two longtime rivals.
Third quarter, 13:23, Patriots 21-10: The Dolphins went three-and-out on their first series of the second half but nearly maintained possession after Danny Amendola muffed Matt Haack’s punt.
Fortunately for the Patriots, Jonathan Jones, who was blocked into Amendola on the play, was able to wrestle the ball away from Miami gunner Walt Aiken before Aiken could recover.
Still, Bill Belichick can’t be particularly happy after that play.
Third quarter, 14:53, Patriots 21-10: The Patriots might be down a linebacker for the rest of this game.
Trevor Reilly knocked heads with Miami’s Senorise Perry on the opening kickoff of the second half, and both went down hard. Both players were able to walk off under their own power but walked straight to their respective locker rooms.
Reilly has played a larger role on defense in recent weeks.
Halftime, Patriots 21-10: Stephon Gilmore’s biggest play in a Patriots uniform today allowed the Patriots to end an uneven second quarter on a positive note.
Gilmore, who struggled mightily early in the season, intercepted a poorly placed Matt Moore pass in the end zone with 16 seconds remaining to snuff out a promising Dolphins drive.
Trey Flowers also sacked Moore earlier in the drive, with newcomer Eric Lee lending a hand by driving his blocker back into the quarterback.
Second quarter, 2:30, Patriots 21-10: The Dolphins have a chance to narrow this gap before halftime thanks to Tom Brady’s second turnover of the game.
Two plays after getting blasted by linebacker Kiko Alonso, Brady tried to hit Danny Amendola across the middle but had his pass picked off by Bobby McCain. It was Brady’s first interception since Week 6.
Brady also was credited with a fumble in the first quarter that was returned for a touchdown, though center Ted Karras was more at fault on that play.
Second quarter, 4:06, Patriots 21-10: A costly pass interference penalty on Malcolm Butler gave the Dolphins prime field position at the Patriots’ 10-yard line, but Miami was forced to settle for a field goal.
Butler’s flag came on a flea flicker, as he successfully chased Kenny Stills down the field but mauled the wide receiver once he got there rather than looking for the ball. The result was a 34-yard penalty, easily Miami’s longest gain of the day.
Matt Moore followed up that play with three consecutive incompletions, though, sending out Cody Parkey and the field-goal unit. Defensive tackle Eric Lee, who is playing in his first NFL game today, checked into the game on the Dolphins’ final third down.
Second quarter, 8:29, Patriots 21-7: This Dolphins defense is putting a hurting on Tom Brady, but it’s shown no signs of being able to slow down the Patriots’ high-powered offense.
Tom Brady found a wide-open Brandin Cooks for a 37-yard gain on third-and-14 and then hit Rex Burkhead on a quick out from the 1-yard line for New England’s third touchdown of the day.
Burkhead also picked up 22 yards on a creatively designed end around, and Miami twice was called for defensive holding, including once on a third-and-2.
This is Burkhead’s first multi-touchdown game as a Patriot.
Second quarter, 13:19, Patriots 14-7: Ted Karras played extremely well last week in his first NFL start at center, but he just made his first big mistake.
On second-and-4 from the Patriots’ 38-yard line, Karras, starting in place of the ill David Andrews, snapped the ball before Tom Brady was looking, causing it to soar past the quarterback and land on the turf. Brady attempted to chase it down, but safety Reshad Jones got there first and took it the distance, waltzing into the end zone for Miami’s first touchdown of the game.
Fill-in right tackle LaAdrian Waddle also jumped offsides one play earlier. Bad, bad sequence for the Patriots’ O-line reserves.
Second quarter, 14:55, Patriots 14-0: Some powerful running by Damien Williams on fourth-and-1 extended a Dolphins drive, but Miami wound up punting after Malcolm Butler broke up a pass intended for Kenny Stills on third down.
Trey Flowers appeared to take a fumble recovery back for a touchdown earlier in the drive, but officials ruled the ball-carrier’s forward progress had been stopped before the ball came out.
First quarter, 5:33, Patriots 14-0: The Patriots maneuvered the ball down the field with ease on their second possession, which culminated in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski.
The drive featured three plays of 20 yards or more: a 22-yard run by Dion Lewis and 20- and 21-yard completions to Gronkowski. Danny Amendola also caught a 15-yard pass on second-and-9.
Lewis has been especially elusive today.
Brady was hammered by Ndamukong Suh on his completion to Amendola. The Patriots’ offensive line can’t allow hits like that, especially with Brady missing practice time with an Achilles injury this week.
Gronkowski now ranks 10th all time in receiving yards among tight ends, surpassing Kellen Winslow.
First quarter, 10:12, Patriots 7-0: The Dolphins’ first possession ended quickly, as Miami gained 8 yards on three plays before punting.
From a coverage standpoint, the Patriots are going with Jonathan Jones on Jarvis Landry, Stephon Gilmore on DeVante Parker and Malcolm Butler on Kenny Stills thus far. Parker caught a 5-yard pass on Miami’s first offensive play.
First quarter, 11:39, Patriots 7-0: The Patriots gained a total of 2 yards on their first three plays but reached into their bag of tricks early to extend the drive.
On fourth-and-8, New England called a fake punt, with upback Nate Ebner taking a direct snap 14 yards for a first down.
The successful fake seemed to wake the Patriots’ offense up. Dion Lewis gained 13 yards up the middle on the next play, and Tom Brady found a wide-open Phillip Dorsett for 39 yards on the snap after that. A 5-yard run by Lewis brought the ball to the Dolphins’ 2-yard line, and Rex Burkhead plunged into the end zone to put New England on the board.
The drive wasn’t all positive, however. Ebner suffered a knee injury on his run and will not return. That’s a big blow for the Patriots in the kicking game, as they already were without special teams captain Matthew Slater, who is inactive with a hamstring injury.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Dolphins won the opening coin toss and chose to defer. It’ll be Patriots ball first as we get underway on a chilly, windy afternoon in Foxboro.
12:26 p.m.: As we count down the final minutes before kickoff, take a look at this entertaining feature from NFL Media’s Andrea Kremer on the Patriots’ crew of new dads:
11:30 a.m.: No real surprises on the Patriots’ inactive list for today.
Of note: Running back Mike Gillislee is a healthy scratch for the third time in three weeks, and defensive tackle Malcom Brown is active for the first time since injuring his ankle against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7.
Special teamer Matthew Slater and cornerback Eric Rowe both are out after being listed as questionable, while wide receiver Danny Amendola and Patrick Chung both are active.
Defensive end Eric Lee, whom the Patriots signed off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad after they cut Cassius Marsh earlier this week, will make his NFL debut today. He’s wearing Marsh’s No. 55.
11:10 a.m. ET: Good morning from Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots will take on the division rival Miami Dolphins this afternoon for the first time this season.
The Patriots enter the AFC East matchup as massive 17-point favorites over the Dolphins, who have lost each of their last four games. New England, meanwhile, has won six in a row and now holds a three-game lead atop the divisional standings after beginning the season 2-2.
Wide receiver Chris Hogan, center David Andrews and right tackle Marcus Cannon all have been ruled out for the Patriots, and tight end Martellus Bennett, who is listed as doubtful, isn’t expected to suit up, either, according to a report from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
Rapoport also reported wide receiver Danny Amendola is expected to play. Amendola is one of five Patriots players listed as questionable, along with defensive tackle Malcom Brown, safety Patrick Chung, cornerback Eric Rowe and special teamer Matthew Slater.
The Dolphins will be starting backup quarterback Matt Moore today, as starter Jay Cutler did not clear concussion protocol.
Miami is seeking its first win in Foxboro since 2008, when Matt Cassel was starting at QB for the Patriots. In fact, the Dolphins never have won a game at Gillette Stadium that Tom Brady started and finished, as their only other win there since 2001 came
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. In the meantime, check out NESN.com’s Patriots pregame show:
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images