But, come crunch time, the better team took control.
With 8:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady engineered a 16-play, 77-yard drive that took 7:18 off the clock. By the time the Dolphins got the ball back, there was only 1:10 remaining and they trailed by 10 points.
Even if the Dolphins' offense had some explosive elements, that deficit is nearly impossible to overcome.
Although this loss all but destroys the Dolphins' playoff hopes, they deserve credit for sticking with such a superior team. This is the first time in four weeks the Patriots scored fewer than 37 points, and Tom Brady finished with a pedestrian 74.8 quarterback rating.
As always, there's positives and negatives to take away. Here are your winners and losers from Week 13.