Final, Dolphins 34-33: Of all the losses the New England Patriots have suffered in Miami, this was perhaps the most heartbreaking.
Following multiple desperation laterals, Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake scored a game-winning 69-yard touchdown as time expired to give Miami a stunning victory over their AFC East rivals.
The loss prevented the 9-4 Patriots from clinching their 10th consecutive division title and kept the 7-6 Dolphins within striking distance in the AFC wild-card race.
Fourth quarter, 4:26, Patriots 30-28: Kenny Stills has been excellent today, but he’s now made two massive mistakes for Miami: sliding early on second-and-16 and a drop he just had on third down.
Ryan Tannehill’s pass hit Stills in the hands/face, but the receiver couldn’t’ haul it in, forcing the Dolphins to punt. Miami now must stop Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense to have another chance at erasing this deficit.
Fourth quarter, 6:45, Patriots 30-28: Passes of 21 yards to Josh Gordon and 16 yards to Rob Gronkowski brought the Patriots into the red zone, and while they were unable to reach the end zone, they did retake the lead on a 32-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
This might be Gronkowski’s best game in what’s been a frustrating season for the big tight end. He’s caught all eight passes thrown his way for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Fourth quarter, 10:28, Dolphins 28-27: Kenny Stills has killed the Patriots today, but a decision he made on Miami’s latest drive will loom large if the Dolphins lose this game.
After catching a pass on second-and-16 — his sixth of the game for 109 yards — Stills slid 1 yard short of the first down marker, evidently believing he’d picked up the necessary yardage. John Simon sacked Ryan Tannehill on the ensuing play, forcing the Dolphins to punt.
Fourth quarter, 14:54, Dolphins 28-27: Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain closed out the third quarter by sacking Tom Brady on third-and-3, ending a drive that featured 10-plus-yard completions to Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.
Third quarter, 3:58, Dolphins 28-27: The Dolphins made the Patriots pay for Stephen Gostkowski’s miscue, driving 63 yards in four plays for a go-ahead touchdown.
The ageless Frank Gore ripped off a 24-yard run up the middle, and Ryan Tannehill hit Brice Butler for a 23-yard touchdown one play later. Butler beat Stephon Gilmore on the play.
Third quarter, 6:21, Patriots 27-21: This has been a rare bad day for Stephen Gostkowski.
After clanging an extra point off the upright during the first quarter, the Patriots kicker missed a 42-yard field goal wide right. New England has squandered several chances to extend its lead today.
Gostkowski’s miss came after a 29-yard catch-and-run by Josh Gordon, who has caught each of his last 11 targets.
Third quarter, 10:36, Patriots 27-21: The Dolphins picked up one first down but nothing more on the opening possession of the second half.
Trey Flowers and Adam Butler made impact plays for New England, with the former forcing a Frank Gore fumble that Miami recovered and the latter dropping Kenyan Drake for a 4-yard loss.
Ryan Tannehill was back in the game for Miami after injuring his ankle late in the first half.
Halftime, Patriots 27-21: That Albert McClellan signing really is paying off for the Patriots.
McClellan blocked his second punt of the day to give New England the ball at Miami’s 15-yard line with 35 seconds remaining in the half and a chance to extend their lead. New England moved the ball to the Dolphins’ 2 with a 13-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski but left empty-handed after Tom Brady took a sack on third down with 10 seconds left.
The Patriots were out of timeouts and unable to stop the clock, forcing them to settle for a six-point halftime advantage.
McClellan’s blocked punt came after an excellent three-play stretch by the Patriots’ defense that included a tackle for a 2-yard loss and two sacks, including one that knocked quarterback Ryan Tannehill out of the game with an apparent lower leg injury.
We’ll see if Tannehill can return in the second half. If not, it’ll be the Brock Osweiler show the rest of the way.
Second quarter, 1:42, Patriots 27-21: The Patriots switched up their secondary, brought back the amoeba defense that gave the Minnesota Vikings fits last week and forced the Dolphins to punt for just the second time today.
Jonathan Jones entered the game for the first time in place of Jason McCourty and was brought down the ball-carrier on back-to-back plays, tackling Kenyan Drake for a 6-yard gain on second-and-10 and splitting a sack with Kyle Van Noy on third down.
Jones has played just a handful of snaps over the past two weeks, but he has two tackles, half a sack and an interception in that limited playing time.
Second quarter, 3:49, Patriots 27-21: Rob Gronkowski said this week he “obviously” can be more effective than he’s been this season. He’s been just that so far.
The big tight end has four catches on four targets for 54 yards and a touchdown in this first half.
Second quarter, 7:28, Dolphins 21-20: We have Chiefs-Rams levels of offense here in Miami.
The Patriots and Dolphins have combined for 41 points and six touchdowns in the first quarter-and-a-half. Brandon Bolden provided the latest, burrowing his way in from 6 yards out for his second rushing touchdown of the game.
The Patriots’ defense has been helpless against the Dolphins’ offense thus far, both on the ground and through the air. Receiver Kenny Stills has four catches on four targets for 81 yards.
Second quarter, 10:32, Patriots 20-14: The Patriots have had some issues defensively today, but their offense is really humming.
After having his streak of 10 straight completions to open the game broken on a busted screen, followed by a near-interception, Tom Brady delivered a strike to Julian Edelman for a first down on third-and-10, then hit a streaking Cordarrelle Patterson in stride for a 37-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
Brady has completed 12 of 14 passes for 143 yards and two scores thus far.
Second quarter, 13:26, Dolphins 14-13: Brandon Bolden, whom the Patriots cut just before the season, exacted some sweet revenge on his former team, taking a standard off-tackle handoff 54 yards for a touchdown.
Bolden had just 67 rushing yards all last season for the Patriots, and he’d carried the ball just once for 10 yards this season entering today.
The Patriots’ run defense has been a sieve thus far today, allowing 116 rushing yards to a Dolphins team that’s averaging just 102.7 per game this season.
Second quarter, 14:14, Patriots 13-7: A blocked punt by Albert McClellan — whom the Patriots signed last month to beef up their struggling special teams — set the stage for New England’s second touchdown of the afternoon.
After Dont’a Hightower tore through the line on a delayed blitz to sack Ryan Tannehill on third-and-10, McClellan swatted down Matt Hauck’s punt. Ramon Humber — another special teams-minded midseason acquisition — recovered it, giving the Patriots the ball at Miami’s 18-yard line.
Five plays later, Tom Brady found Julian Edelman for a 2-yard touchdown on third-and-goal. The score gave Brady 580 career touchdown passes (including playoffs), breaking a tie with Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.
First quarter, 3:24, Dolphins 7-6: The Patriots’ second possession ended in a three-and-out after Kiko Alonso dropped Rex Burkhead in the backfield on third-and-1. Alonso ran right past left tackle Trent Brown, who didn’t appear to see the linebacker.
First quarter, 5:32, Dolphins 7-6: Big response by Miami, which needed less than three minutes to match New England’s touchdown.
The Dolphins marched 75 yards in five plays — including a 15-yard completion to DeVante Parker, a 13-yard scramble by Ryan Tannehill and a 36-yard run by Frank Gore — to take the lead on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills.
The Patriots are using the same cornerback alignment they employed last week, with Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson lining up outside and Jason McCourty manning the slot. McCourty was in coverage on Stills’ TD.
First quarter, 8:13, Patriots 6-0: The Patriots didn’t convert a single third down during their game here last year. They converted three on their opening drive today, including a 2-yard touchdown plunge by fullback James Develin on third-and-goal.
This has been a remarkable run for Develin, who now has four rushing touchdowns in his last four games after tallying just one in his entire career before this season.
Quarterback Tom Brady also connected with Josh Gordon for 16 yards on third-and-3 and Julian Edelman for 4 yards on third-and-3. Edelman added a 17-yard reception, and Cordarrelle Patterson picked up 14 on a screen pass.
Stephen Gostkowski missed his first extra point of the season.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Dolphins won the opening coin toss and chose to defer. The Patriots will receive the ball first as we get underway in Miami.
12:40 p.m.: A few final notes before kickoff:
— The Patriots hung 38 points on the Dolphins in Week 4 without Julian Edelman or Rex Burkhead and with Josh Gordon playing just 18 snaps. I’m expecting another big day from their offense today, especially with Xavien Howard out.
— In their 27-20 loss here last year, the Patriots failed to convert a single third down (0-for-11) for the first time since 1991. Rob Gronkowski was suspended for that game, Chris Hogan clearly wasn’t 100 percent as he recovered from a serious shoulder injury, and Howard totally neutralized Brandin Cooks.
— Edelman hasn’t played against the Dolphins since Week 17 of the 2016 season, but he’s dominated Miami for much of his career. The veteran wide receiver has averaged eight catches and 105 receiving yards per game over his last six meetings with the Phins.
— The Dolphins are wearing their gorgeous teal throwbacks.
12:27 p.m.: This has been a day of reunions for the Patriots, with more than a dozen players pausing during pregame warmups to chat with ex-Pats Danny Amendola and Brandon Bolden, both of whom are in their first season with Miami.
Another former Patriot is on hand today, as well: retired defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Wilfork, who played his college ball at Miami, just had a nice chat with Bill Belichick on the Patriots’ sideline.
11:30 a.m.: Here are today’s Patriots inactives:
Duke Dawson still has yet to make his Patriots debut. This is his third straight healthy scratch since he returned from injured reserve. Danny Shelton also is a healthy scratch for the second straight week.
Stephon Gilmore officially is active for the Patriots, as is Danny Amendola for the Dolphins.
8 a.m. ET: Good morning from Hard Rock Stadium, where the New England Patriots are preparing to take on the Miami Dolphins in their annual visit to South Florida.
The Patriots’ struggles in Miami are well-documented, with quarterback Tom Brady boasting a career record below .500 (7-9) in the Dolphins’ home stadium. The rivalry’s home-road splits have been particularly lopsided in recent years, with the Pats going 6-0 in home games against the Dolphins — including a 38-7 rout earlier this season — and 1-4 in road contests since 2012.
The Dolphins have been a difficult team to beat in their own building regardless of the opponent this season, going 5-1 at home and 1-5 on the road through the first 13 weeks of the season.
Star cornerback Xavien Howard has been ruled out for Miami with a knee injury, and former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee) is listed as questionable.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (ankle) is listed as questionable for New England. Tight end Dwayne Allen will miss his third consecutive game with a knee injury.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET. Be sure to check back throughout the morning for full pregame coverage, and tune into our live “Patriots Pregame Chat” at 10:30 a.m. on NESN.com and NESN’s Facebook page.
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images
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