Pats clinch AFC East title by beating Miami 23-16The Associated Press | December 03,2012AP Photo
New England defensive end Trevor Scott celebrates after he sacked Miami Deolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill during Sunday’s game.MIAMI — With the game on the line, the quick-strike New England Patriots showed they can grind out a drive, too.
As a result, they’re the AFC East champions.
Tom Brady had his least efficient game of the season and even threw an interception, but he led a clock-consuming drive in the fourth quarter Sunday that helped the Patriots beat Miami 23-16 to clinch their fourth consecutive division title.
Brady finished 24 for 40 for 238 yards and was sacked four times. But with the Patriots nursing a 20-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter, he led a 16-play drive that took more than seven minutes and led to a field goal.
A botched punt, roughing-the-punter penalty and fumble by Miami resulted in 17 New England points, and another penalty negated a Dolphins touchdown.
The Patriots (9-3) have won six consecutive games and are assured of their 12th winning season in a row. The Dolphins (5-7) hurt their already slim playoff chances and lost to New England for the fifth consecutive time.
Brady was intercepted for the first time in 203 passes, and for only the fourth time this year, and his passer rating was a season-low 74.8. He had at least four passes dropped, including a throw to Wes Welker in the end zone.
The Patriots kept their play-calling conservative and finished with a season-low 321 yards. But when they took over at their 20 leading by a touchdown in the fourth period, they produced their best drive of the day. It covered 77 yards, setting up Stephen Gostkowski’s third field goal with 1:10 to go.
Trevor Scott led New England’s stout defensive effort with two sacks, including one to force a fumble that set up a field goal. Jerod Mayo sacked Ryan Tannehill on third down midway through the fourth quarter, forcing the Dolphins to settle for a field goal.
Welker tied Jerry Rice’s NFL record by making at least 10 catches for the 17th time. He had 12 catches for 103 yards and a score.
Tannehill went only 13 for 29 for 186 yards, but finished two runs with brazen acrobatic leaps. He vaulted over the goal line to elude linebacker Rob Ninkovich on a 2-yard touchdown run.
The botched punt on the Dolphins’ opening series led to a New England touchdown. With the ball wet following a brief shower, punter Brandon Fields dropped a low snap and was tackled at his 12. The Patriots scored five players later on Stevan Ridley’s 2-yard run.
The roughing-the-punter penalty on Miami’s Jimmy Wilson gave the Patriots a first down deep in their territory, jump-starting a 75-yard drive capped by Welker’s 7-yard touchdown catch.
Miami’s Reshad Jones made a one-handed interception and returned the ball 30 yards for a touchdown, but the score was negated by a penalty on Reggie Bush for an illegal block. New England then held, and Dan Carpenter kicked a 44-yard field goal.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP—NFLMORE IN Wire SportsBALTIMORE — Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps avoided jail time on Friday when a judge... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Vermont Gas Systems puts Phase 2 on hold as the latest estimate for Phase 1 takes a 27 percent leap upward, to a total of $157 million; U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin quits for job with private firm; police cite man in pot bust.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 1972, Christmas bombing of North Vietnam ordered by President Richard Nixon, most lethal strikes of the war; in 1989, U.S. invades Panama to depose, arrest and charge Gen. Manuel Noriega with drug trafficking, racketeering.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Gov. Peter Shumlin announces demise of his single-payer health insurance initiative; convicted first-degree murderer Alan Prue sentenced to 50 years for killing teacher Melissa Jenkins; veterans chafed about park naming snub.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 497 BC, first Saturnalia festival celebrated in Rome, Scandinavians retain 'Yule Goat' as symbol of season, Krampus, evil side of holiday cheer, terrorizes children into better behavior, more advice from Christopher Hitchens.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 533 AD, Byzantine Emperor Justinian I gets the old empire back together again routing the Vandals from Carthage; in 1890, Lakota Chief Sitting Bull is killed at his home in South Dakota; in 1970, Soviets land probe on Venus.
- DUANE CARLETON: Rutland Herald Events Editor George Nostrand interviews musician Duane Carleton, whose new CD 'A GIRL LIKE THAT' drops Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, and will be celebrated that evening with a show at 9:30 p.m. at Killington's Pickle Barrel.