Final, Patriots 28, Dolphins 0 — The Patriots (12-4) clinched the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs Sunday with a 28-0 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots moved up to the No. 2 spot after the previously top-seeded Houston Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 28-16, earlier in the day.
The Patriots were denied the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC by virtue of Denver’s easy 38-3 win over the Chiefs. The Broncos (13-3) will have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, meaning a potential AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Broncos would be played in Denver.
Here’s how the seeding of the AFC playoffs breaks down: No. 1: Broncos No. 2: Patriots No. 3: Texans No. 4: Ravens No. 5: Colts No. 6: Bengals In the wild card round of the playoffs, the No. 3 seed plays No. 6 and No. 4 plays No. 5.
The Patriots wrapped up the Miami Dolphins quickly with Stevan Ridley punching in two second-quarter touchdowns in with win to end the regular season.
Ridley finished with 74 yards on 20 carries. Tom Brady was 22 of 36 for 284 yards passing with two touchdowns.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had suffered a broken left forearm Nov. 18, returned to much fanfare, catching two passes for 42 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown.
Gronkowski still appeared apprehensive with his arm, refusing to use that limb to engage defenders. But he managed to catch both passes over the middle.
Wes Welker caught eight passes for 94 yards and a touchdown
6:30 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Dolphins 0—Justin Francis is cleaning up for the Patriots. He got his third sack of the game. Pretty good for a rookie free agent. Defensive back Derrick Martin also got a sack on the Dolphins’ last series, marking seven sacks in the game for the Patriots, a season high.
9:20 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Dolphins 0—The fans were awoken from their slumber with another monstrous spike by Rob Gronkowski. They hadn’t seen one of those in more than a month.
Tom Brady found Gronkowski over the middle of the field for a 23-yard touchdown to cap a 6-play, 47-yard drive. Fans at Gillette Stadium celebrated by throwing snow up in the air. Just a play prior, Brady hit Wes Welker for a 7-yard catch on fourth down to extend the Patriots’ drive.
11:47 4th quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0—Armon Binns dropped a pass on fourth down as the Dolphins turned the ball over on downs. Sort of represents the Dolphins’ whole day. They can’t get back to the beach fast enough.
13:33 4th quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0—The Patriots just went three-and-out, with Tom Brady targeting Danny Woodhead twice after getting a pass tipped on first down. Not a good drive.
End of 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0—I think both teams want to get out of this game at this point without any injuries. The Patriots for playoff purposes, and the Dolphins to properly enjoy their soon-to-be extended vacation.
Tom Brady is 17 of 29 for 231 yards and one touchdown
0:24 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 — Justin Francis got his second sack of the day, taking down Ryan Tannehill for a 1-yard loss as the Patriots forced the Dolphins’ fourth punt of the night.
1:18 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 — Despite a 20-yard pass to Wes Welker, and what appeared to be another catch he made in between his legs, the Patriots were unable to get their second drive of the third quarter past the 50.
A Tom Brady pass to Welker, that appeared to be caught in between his legs as he rolled over, was picked up by a Miami defender and returned for a touchdown. But after reviewing the play, Welker never made the catch and the play was overturned
4:13 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 — Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. The Dolphins wer marching down the field on their best drive of the game, before Ryan Tannehill fumbled at the Patriots 3-yard line with Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower recovering.
Miami has slept through half of this game, but it looked like they were serious about making this competitive for at least one drive. That just went up in smoke.
7:49 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0—- Miami’s Bryan McCann got loose on a cornerback blitz and picked up an 8-yard sack on Tom Brady to force the Patriots’ second punt of the game.
The Patriots appeared to come out lethargic in the second half. Let’s see if they pick it up.
Daniel Fells, who left the game with a hand injury, has returned
11:48 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0—Back to back sacks by Vince Wilfork and Trevor Scott forced the Dolphins to punt on their opening drive of the second half. Ryan Tannehill did complete a 19-yard pass to Reggie Bush. But Jerod Mayo tracked him down before he could get far. Continued...