The 8-6 Miami Dolphins held on to beat the 10-4 New England Patriots Sunday, with a statement win that gave their playoff hopes a boost and denied the Patriots a chance at the top seed in the AFC.
The Pats opened the scoring on their first drive, an impressive and balanced attack that was stopped short of the end zone at the four-yard line. They settled for the field goal and the early 3-0 lead.
Neither team would score again in the first quarter, as the game became a defensive back-and-forth as the teams felt each other out. Both Ryan Allen and Brandon Fields contributed with big punts for their teams.
Miami would put together a great drive in the second quarter, but a sack by defensive end Chandler Jones on second down helped force a field goal attempt two plays later. The snap hit the holder Brandon Fields in the facemask and the Patriots recovered.
The Pats would then drive down the field with three-straight passes to Danny Amendola. Michael Hoomanwanui came through with a Gronk-like 13-yard touchdown catch on third down for the Pats to extend their lead to 10-0.
Miami would respond with another impressive drive, capping it off with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace. That cut the Pats' lead to 10-7 just before the half.
The Patriots would miss a 48-yard field goal on their first drive of the second half as all the momentum quickly shifted to the Dolphins.
Miami would tie the game on the ensuing drive with a 32-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis, and then shred the Patriots' defense on their next drive, quickly moving down the field and taking their first lead of the day on a touchdown pass to Daniel Thomas. Miami led 17-10.
The Patriots would respond with a strong drive on their next possession, with Julian Edelman grabbing four catches. But they once again were stopped in the red zone and had to settle for a field goal that cut the Miami lead to 17-13.
On the next drive, the Patriots would put up another touchdown on a 24-yarder to Julian Edelman, giving the Pats a 20-17 lead. It was a 6-play, 73-yard drive.
But Miami would respond with an impressive 9-play, 60-yard drive to take the 24-20 lead with just 1:15 remaining.
Once again, Tom Brady would drive his offense down the field at the end of a game, getting all the way to the Dolphins' red zone. After multiple shots to the end zone fell incomplete, Brady's fourth down pass was intercepted in the end zone to seal the win for the Dolphins.