The Live Feed: Patriots bag Dolphins, earn bye in AFC

Rob Gronkowski returned to action for the Patriots Sunday against Miami.

Before Sunday’s game with the Dolphins started, the Patriots received a belated Christmas gift from the Colts, who beat the Texans 28-16. That means if New England beats Miami, they are guaranteed a top-two seed in the AFC regardless of what Denver does.

4:26-14-yard catch by Aaron Hernandez on New England’s first play from scrimmage.

4:27-24-yard catch by Danny Woodhead.

4:27-5-yard run by Stevan Ridley.

4:28-9-yard run by Ridley.

4:28-6-yard run by Ridley.

4:30-Pats pass up a 42-yard field goal attempt by Stephen Gostkowski to go for it on 4th and 6. Tom Brady throws incomplete to Wes Welker so New England turns the ball over on downs.

4:33-Nice job by Jerod Mayo to knock down Ryan Tannehill’s pass that was in the middle of the field.

4:34-Rob Ninkovich pressures Tannehill and Justin Francis takes him down for a 4-yard sack. Miami goes 3-and-out on their first drive.

4:38-8-yard catch by Hernandez and Dolphins linebacker Kevin Burnett is shaken up after his own teammate Sean Smith ran into him while they tried to corral the elusive Hernandez.

4:41-8-yard catch for Hernandez gives New England a first down.

4:42-Haha a picture of Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin from his playing days at Worcester Academy is shown prompting Jim Nantz to comically pronounce it “Wooooster Academy.”

4:43-New England is forced to punt again after Brady couldn’t connect with Hernandez on 3rd down. PS they had it on Miami’s 33-yard line. Apparently Stephen Gostkowski can’t be counted on for anything today. Weird.

4:46-15-yard catch by Brian Hartline.

4:48-Another pressure by Ninkovich forces an easy interception by Steve Gregory. 40th takeaway of the season for the Patriots.

4:48-There he is, 19-yard catch by Rob Gronkowski. His first game back after missing the last five with a broken forearm. Today, he’s wearing a big brace on it.

4:49-That was too easy, 9-yard touchdown catch by Welker. 48th game in a row with a TD for Brady which passes Johnny Unitas and now he only trails Drew Brees. New England cashed in immediately on Miami’s turnover. 7-0 Patriots.

4:53-Miami gets called for holding on the kickoff return so they are backed up on their own 8.

4:55-Nice call by the Dolphins, Tannehill takes a quarterback draw for 8 yards and a first down.

4:56-21-yard catch by Hartline, pretty route had him wide open on the sideline.

4:56-4-yard run by Lamar Miller.

4:58-Tannehill takes way too long to get rid of it (there must not have been anybody open) so Brandon Deaderick takes him down for a 6-yard sack. Miami punts it back to New England.

4:59-Illegal block in the back by the Patriots pins them back on their 8 to start this next drive.

5:01-10-yard catch by Welker.

5:02-25-yard catch by Woodhead on a perfectly designed screen pass. He is having a sneaky great season (for him).

5:03-False start by Nate Solder.

5:04-23-yard catch by Welker on a screen pass. I guess Miami hasn’t watched film of New England from the last 10 years.

5:06-Pretty cool stuff by CBS (something I never say) as they pipe in the Patriots’ radio call, Shane Vereen runs for 9 yards.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Dolphins 0. New England is driving in Miami territory, it’ll be 2nd and 1 when they start the 2nd quarter. After a couple blah drives, the Pats seemed to have figured out how to properly attack Miami’s defense.

5:09-5-yard run by Vereen.

5:12-False start by the Patriots.

5:12-16-yard catch by Deion Branch for a first down on 3rd and 13. 1st and Goal for the Pats.

5:13-5-yard run by Vereen.

5:14-Woodhead gets stopped at the 1. New England will go for it.

5:15-Ridley runs behind Dan Connolly (who had shifted into the backfield as a fullback) for the score. That was also made possible by Logan Mankins. 14-0 Patriots.

5:20-12-yard catch by Rishard Matthews.

5:21-9-yard catch by Anthony Fasano.

5:22-Mayo and Chandler Jones take down Reggie Bush for a loss of two.

5:23-Dont’a Highower gets called for a late hit on Tannehill, who overthrow a wide open Dolphins receiver on the play.

5:24-Tannehill makes Ninkovich miss and finds Matthews for a  20-yard catch.

5:25-Armon Binns drops a pass by Tannehill on the goal-line, he’d like to have that one back. Gregory took an awful angle on it since the ball hung up for a while.

5:26-For once, New England is getting a ton of pressure on a quarterback. Tannehill had Fasano open but he couldn’t find him.

5:27-That is not good as Ninkovich limps off the field very slowly. Of course, CBS hasn’t shown a replay of it so we have no idea what happened.

5:28-Haha Nate Kaeding hooks a 41-yard field goal attempt wide left.

5:32-9-yard catch by Hernandez.

5:32-Direct snap to Ridley for a 3-yard gain on 3rd and 1.

5:33-11-yard run by Woodhead.

5:35-14-yard catch by Woodhead on yet another screen.

5:36-5-yard catch by Hernandez.

5:37-9-yard catch by Welker on 3rd down. Patriots will have it 1st and 10 at Miami’s 15 after the 2-minute warning.

5:39-False start on Mankins.

5:40-8-yard run by Vereen on a draw up the middle.

5:44-6-yard run by Woodhead down to the 2. 1st and goal New England.

5:46-2-yard TD run by Ridley, goodnight Dolphins. 21-0 Patriots, this is over. Replays show that Gronk is playing with one arm. Might be time to give him some more rest, they don’t need another fluke injury to him heading into the playoffs.

5:49-8-yard catch by Hartline.

5:49-Holding by Miami.

5:51-10-yard catch by Miller.

Halftime: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0. Nothing to complain about in the first half, New England is clearly focused and taking advantage of their great opportunity. Miami is going nowhere is always and they are playing like it. I’d say it’s time to sit Brady, Gronk, Welker, etc. but I know it won’t happen so why lie to myself?

6:04-It’s gotta be real hard to be a Dolphins fan. Haha they “return” the opening kickoff of the 2nd half to their own 5.

6:06-9-yard catch by Fasano.

6:07-3-yard loss by Bush, after he’s swarmed by a bunch of Patriots.

6:08-19-yard catch by Bush, Mayo had no chance to stop him in coverage.

6:10-Tannehill gets sacked by Vince Wilfork, his 3rd of the season.

6:10-Tannenhill is getting abused, Trevor Scott takes him down for a sack (all 3 of his sacks have come against the Dolphins and Tannehill this season).

6:13-9-yard catch by Brandon Lloyd.

6:16-Holding on Miami. Can we get running time for the rest of the game? This has the feel of a mid-August preseason game.

6:18-Denver is up 28-3, Brady just got sacked. Can we take him out now? There is nothing to play for at this point.

6:21-Yikes, Tannehill clearly got a concussion on the last drive but somehow the Dolphins didn’t notice and they sent him back out there. 8-yard catch for Jorvorskie Lane.

6:22-21-yard catch by Binns.

6:24-13-yard catch by Fasano, who got knocked out at the end of the play after a hit to the back of his head by Gregory. End this game, this isn’t even fun or entertaining anymore.

6:27-Bush fumbles on the goal-line (untouched) and Hightower recovers it. Same old Dolphins, afraid to make a play or be a hero. This is pathetic.

6:30-13-yard run by Ridley.

6:31-8-yard run by Ridley.

6:32-20-yard catch by Welker on 3rd down.

6:36-Welker drops a pass and almost causes a butt interception. The Dolphins returned it for a TD but it was correctly overturned on replay. Carry on.

6:37-Gronk drops a pass after cutting right in front of Hernandez. He’s not exactly in midseason form but what do you expect?

6:38-9-yard catch by Welker but New England faces 4th and 1.

6:40-Another sack of Tannehill, mercy. How’s his head feeling at this point?

6:44-Holding on New England.

End of 3 quarters:
Patriots 21, Dolphins 0. Only intrigue left in this one is if Ryan Mallett will make an appearance and if Miami will score a single point.

6:47-8-yard catch by Woodhead on a quick screen.

6:48-8-yarrd catch by Woodhead but the Patriots will punt it to the Dolphins. Zoltan Mesko’s pooch punt is fair caught at Miami’s 10.

6:51-22-yard catch by Hartline.

6:51-12-yard catch by Miller after he juggled it a few times.

6:55-Dolphins go for it on 4th and 7, predictably they don’t make it. Binns drops a diving catch, he was wide open and Tannehill made a fine throw. Typical Miami.

6:57-11-yard run by Welker on an end-around.

6:57-6-yard run by Ridley.

7:01-No field goals today I guess, 7-yard catch by Welker on 4th and 4 from Miami’s 30.

7:02-Welcome back Gronk, 22-yard TD catch (his 11th of the season). To say he was wide open would be the understatement of the season. 28-0 Patriots. I think I hear Miami’s private jet idling on the runway at Logan airport.

7:03-Gronk leads all NFL tight ends in TDs, despite last playing on Nov. 18. Damn.

7:05-4-yard catch by Matthews.

7:07-4-yard catch by Bush.

7:07-10-yard catch by Binns, when it really matters unlike before.

7:09-Derrick Martin sacks Tannehill, why is he still in there?

7:10-Make it seven sacks for the Patriots (a season-high) as Francis gets his third of the game.

7:11-11-yard run by Ridley.

7:13-Brandon Bolden making the most of his garbage time, 24-yard run.

7:15-7-yard catch by Welker.

7:16-4-yard run by Ridley and we hit the 2-minute warning, finally.

7:20-Beautiful punt by Mesko, downed by Malcolm Williams at Miami’s 3.

7:21-18-yard run by Bush, who fell 13 yards shy of 1000 yards. The best part is he totally knew it as he tossed the ball up the air afterwards in frustration.

Final-Patriots 28, Dolphins 0.
The Patriots get the job done and they secure the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Onwards and upwards. I’ve got a feeling it could be Broncos vs. Patriots in the AFC championship but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Getting the bye is so huge to New England’s Super Bowl hopes … they’ve never won a title without one.


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