1:00 PM ET, December 15, 2013
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
Sunday Blitz: Patriots-Dolphins Recap
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Desperate to stop Tom Brady's latest comeback bid, the Miami Dolphins sought help from a reserve safety making his NFL debut after being signed Tuesday off the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad.
More Patriots-Dolphins coverage
The Patriots missed opportunities to clinch the AFC East and keep control of the top seed in the AFC. Their frustrations were evident after a painful loss to the Dolphins, writes Mike Reiss. Story
The red-hot Dolphins will be favored to win their final two games. That could be bad news for the AFC playoff field, James Walker writes. Story
• Radio: Dolphins WR Brian Hartline
Thomas celebrated by flopping to his back and was swarmed by his new teammates.
"I didn't know what his first name was," defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. "That's being thrown in the fire and reacting. That's a pure athlete."
The Dolphins (8-6) won their third game in a row to help their AFC wild-card chances. They also snapped a streak of seven consecutive losses to the Patriots (10-4), who missed a chance to clinch their fifth consecutive AFC East title.
Miami's breakthrough win left even stoic second-year coach Joe Philbin in a mood to celebrate.
"I might jump in my pool," he said. "I've been in it once since I've been here."
Brady threw for 364 yards, but was frustrated by a succession of squandered scoring chances. He answered only two questions at his postgame news conference before cutting the session short.
"We didn't do a good job in the red area, and didn't do a good job finishing drives," he said. "We came up on the short end of the stick. It wasn't a good day. Just couldn't make enough plays."
The Patriots had mounted second-half rallies to win their past three games, and were on the verge of doing it again when Brady led them from their own 20 with 1:15 remaining to the Miami 14.
SportsNation: N.E. in trouble?
The Patriots couldn't rally past the Dolphins on Sunday. Should fans be worried? How far will New England go? Vote! »
"The longest 75 seconds of my life," said Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who squirmed on the sideline.
With New England out of timeouts, Brady threw for the end zone four times in a row. The first three passes went incomplete, including one intended for Danny Amendola that Thomas broke up on first down.
Then, Thomas stepped in front of Austin Collie to make his interception.
"I knew being the new guy that Tom Brady would come after me," Thomas said. "He's a great quarterback, and he's going to exploit any weaknesses. I knew if I got in there I would have a chance. I saw the ball in the air and I made a play."
Thomas was part of an injury-depleted secondary that also included backups at both cornerback spots on the final drive. A large supporting cast has played a significant role in the recent success of the Dolphins, who are 5-2 since tackle Jonathan Martin left the team in a bullying scandal that drew national notoriety.
"We've grown a lot," Tannehill said. "Each of us has gotten stronger through the adversity we've faced off the field and on the field."
Tannehill shook off four sacks to throw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, including a 14-yarder to Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 left that provided the winning margin. His other scoring passes covered 39 yards to Mike Wallace and 2 yards to Daniel Thomas.
Who's in? Who needs help? We break down all the playoff possibilities. Playoff scenarios
Brady went 34 for 55 and threw two scores. Julian Edelman made 13 catches for 139 yards, and Amendola added 10 receptions for 131 yards.
New England took a 20-17 lead when Edelman scored on a 24-yard reception with four minutes left, but the Dolphins caught a break when the ensuing kickoff by Stephen Gostkowski went out of bounds, allowing them to start at their 40.
Charles Clay kept the driving going when he turned a short pass into a 6-yard gain on fourth and 5 at midfield, and Thigpen scored five plays later.
New England, accustomed to slow starts, took a 10-0 lead on Michael Hoomanawanui's one-handed, 13-yard touchdown reception. But on other trips to the red zone they missed tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a season-ending knee injury a week ago.
The Patriots mounted drives of 16 and 15 plays but settled for a field goal each time, and Gostkowski misfired on a field-goal try for only the third time this year when he sailed a 48-yard attempt wide left.
"Today just wasn't my day," Gostkowski said. "It stinks to play terrible and your team loses. It's like salt on the wound."
Special teams were only part of the Pats' problem, coach Bill Belichick said.
"We were short in every area," he said. "Nothing was really good enough."
Patriots T Nate Solder aggravated a head injury in the second half and sat out rest of game. ... Dolphins DT Paul Soliai sat out the last three quarters with an ankle injury. CB Nolan Carroll (knee) was limited in the second half, and CB Brent Grimes (cramps) went to the sideline in the fourth quarter. ... The Dolphins botched a field-goal try when John Denney snapped the ball before holder Brandon Fields was ready, and the ball hit Fields in the face mask. ... Miami's seven home games have been decided by a total of 23 points.
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 15: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up during a game against the...(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||5.8||5.9|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-4||2-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|FG||3:57||Stephen Gostkowski 22 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 16 plays, 83 yds, 7:13
|TD||1:45||Michael Hoomanawanui 13 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 69 yds, 1:57
|TD||0:40||Mike Wallace 39 Yard Pass From Ryan Tannehill (Caleb Sturgis Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 82 yds, 1:06
|FG||7:34||Caleb Sturgis 32 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 8 plays, 48 yds, 3:43
|TD||15:00||Daniel Thomas 2 Yard Pass From Ryan Tannehill (Caleb Sturgis Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 66 yds, 5:11
|FG||7:49||Stephen Gostkowski 23 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 15 plays, 81 yds, 7:09
|TD||4:14||Julian Edelman 24 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 73 yds, 2:36
|TD||1:21||Marcus Thigpen 14 Yard Pass From Ryan Tannehill (Caleb Sturgis Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 60 yds, 2:52
The Patriots are just 3-4 on the road this season after Sunday's loss to the Dolphins, compared to 7-0 at home.[+]
No Place Like Foxboro - Patriots This Season
Ryan Tannehill was excellent throwing downfield on Sunday, completing 12-of-18 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Entering Sunday, only Carson Palmer had more interceptions on those throws than Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill was 4-of-7 for 90 yards and a touchdown targeting Mike Wallace on those throws. Wallace's four catches on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield is a season high.[+]
Ryan Tannehill Passing Deeper Than 10 Yds Downfield, 2013
Ryan Tannehill's Total QBR was 82.2 against the Patriots, his first game above 70.0 this season. Tannehill was 0-3 in his first 3 career games against the Pats with a 22.2 Total QBR. Tannehill has 4 straight games with a Total QBR above 60.0, the longest streak of his career.
The Dolphins win over the Patriots today was their first since 2009.[+]
Patriots Head-to-Head vs Dolphins - Since 2010
Three of the Patriots' final four plays were passes into the end zone. The three receivers targeted on those plays(Danny Amendola- defended, Julian Edelman- overthrown and Austin Collie- intercepted) have an average height of 5-foot-11, with bigger targets Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins inactive. There was a Gronk-sized hole in New England's offense in that area of the field Sunday.[+]
Tom Brady Throwing Into End Zone by Target, 2011-13
The Patriots have lost 2 divisional games this season in which they held a 10-point lead (lost at Jets in Week 7 after leading 21-10)... They were 39-1 against the AFC East in games they led by 10 with Tom Brady as their starter entering this season.
ESPN Stats & Information
- NFL Home
- AFC East
- Buffalo Bills
- Miami Dolphins
- NE Patriots
- New York Jets
- AFC West
- Denver Broncos
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Oakland Raiders
- San Diego Chargers
- AFC North
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- AFC South
- Houston Texans
- Indianapolis Colts
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tennessee Titans
- NFL Nation
- MN HQ
- Free agents