12:50- Ten minutes from gametime; let's take a look at the inactives for today's game:
Patriots Inactives: DE Chandler Jones, LT Sebastian Vollmer, LB Dont'a Hightower, WR Julian Edelman, DT Sealver Siliga, CB Justin Coleman, Jonathan Freeney
Dolphins Inactives: QB Logan Thomas, CB Jamar Taylor, C Mike Pouncey, LB Jelani Jenkins, G Shelley Smith, OT Juwan Jones, DT Earl Mitchell
1:00- New England wins the toss and chooses to defer, as usual. The Dolphins offense will get their first chance at the undermanned Pats defense.
1:07- Miami picks up an initial first down, but that was it as the Patriots defense clamps down and forces them off the field after five plays. Tom Brady and the Patriots offense take over at their own 15.
1:09- The Patriots offense can't get enough yards on first and second down and facing a third and eight, they tried a shovel pass that was executed well for six yards, but not enough to get the first down. Just goes to show facing third and long is a killer for any offense. The Dolphins take over at their own 25.
1:17- The Dolphins offense got huge runs out of Lamar Miller to drive them down to the Patriots 21, but New England's red zone defense did what it always does- tighten up and force the 38 yard field goal. Good drive for Miami but it can't help their confidence getting stuffed as soon as they reached the red zone. Dolphins 3, Patriots 0
1:25- The Patriots offense stalled again, but this time they were able to establish the run with Steven Jackson. Even though they weren't able to get points, they are now getting the Dolphins defense on their heels, which does two things- opens up play action and keeps the Dolphins pass rush off of Tom Brady. This whole game plan is designed to protect Tom Brady and win a close game; it makes sense when you consider the injuries and what is at stake. Dolphins 3, Patriots 0
1:36- New England steps up in the red zone once again and this time the Dolphins kicker Andrew Franks missed, giving the Patriots the ball back in good field position and not allowing anymore points. Expect to see some play action, draws, and screens in the next series; Josh McDaniels has to stay creative because if they do, it eventually will work and the points will come. Dolphins 3, Patriots 0
1:47- Tom Brady almost just got seriously injured due to a brain cramp by Marcus Cannon, who facemasked and tackled Suh into Tom Brady's lower legs. Brady got rolled up on but looks ok. Steven Jackson highlighted the drive that ended with a 34-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Patriots 3, Dolphins 0
*Tom Brady is getting his right ankle examined on the bench by the training staff. It might make sense to try and win with Jimmy Garoppolo today because if New England loses Brady, they're done.
1:54- Three-and-out for the Dolphins and the Patriots will take over at their own 35 after a 17 yard punt return by Keshawn Martin. New England's defense is swarming to the ball and it's going to be tough for the Dolphins to score points today, especially considering this defense gets better as the game goes on. Patriots 3, Dolphins 3
2:02- Brady and the Patriots drive down to the 29 yard line but Stephen Gostkowski missed a crucial 46-yard field goal, keeping the game tied and giving the Dolphins strong field position. Tom Brady played, but he did look gimpy, which is something to keep an eye on. If it gets worse at halftime from lack of movement, the Patriots may have to make a move. Patriots 3, Dolphins 3
2:12- The Patriots continue their uncharacteristic endings to the half, this time missing a field goal and then allowing the Dolphins to march down the field and score a touchdown. New England has the two seed locked up, but they are definitely trying to win and get the one seed; that won't happen if the offense doesn't start scoring some points and the defense needs to play well the entire time, not just for most of the game. The ball was bobbled as Parker scored, but they allowed the touchdown anyways. Dolphins 10, Patriots 3
2:18- Tom Brady downs the ball and the Patriots will go to halftime down by a touchdown. Brady and the Patriots offense will receive to open the second half. Dolphins 10, Patriots 3
2:35- Touchdown, Patriots!! James White setup the offense with a 69 yard catch-and-run, then Steven Jackson did the rest, bullcharging his way into the end zone to give the Patriots their first touchdown of the afternoon. Jackson definitely brings a presence New England didn't have in the backfield, and that includes Blount. Blount could break tackles at the second level, but Jackson can break them at the first and he is a load to tackle. Patriots 10, Dolphins 10
2:41- The Patriots defense has one of their best series of the game and forces the Dolphins off the field after just three plays. Now the Patriots offense has a chance to get into a groove. Patriots 10, Dolphins 10
2:45- Miami's defense steps up and forces Brady and the offense to the sideline, a huge stop for a defense that has struggled this season. Tannehill and the offense will try and get back to the way they played in the first half. Patriots 10, Dolphins 10
3:00- Tom Brady is taking shots and the Patriots offense just can't sustain anything right now, mainly due to personnel issues. The goal of this game is to protect Brady, and right now it isn't happening. No more deep drops, it's going to get him killed. Keshawn Martin was called for offensive pass interference but it was warranted. Patriots 10, Dolphins 10
3:12- Maybe someday I'll figure out what is and isn't a catch in the NFL, but it doesn't matter as the Patriots defense stuffs the Dolphins on fourth-and-one. New England takes over at their own 41.
3:15- Ugly series for the Patriots offense as they go three-and-out yet again. Brady continues to deal with a prison-break pass rush every time he drops back and they've stopped trying to run the ball. The defense needs to get the ball back to the offense so they can mix it up and start to get into rhythm. Patriots 10, Dolphins 10
3:22- The Patriots defense continues to have a strong half, stopping the Dolphins after allowing an initial first down. With 12:57, the Patriots offense could really use a time consuming drive that leads to a score, touchdown or field goal. When New England throw, they need to setup quick plays to get the ball out of Brady's hands. Patriots 10, Dolphins 10
3:30- Brady and the offense didn't put together a scoring drive, but they were able to drive the ball from the three to the 30, and Ryan Allen flipped field position back in the Patriots favor with a 51 yard punt. Miami takes over at their own 18 with 9:50 to go. Patriots 10, Dolphins 10
3:37- Touchdown, Dolphins. Davante Parker made a 46-yard circus catch to set the Dolphins up at the six, and Jordan Cameron finished it off with a touchdown catch to put the Dolphins ahead by a touchdown. With the way the Patriots offense has played, that touchdown could be the difference today. Dolphins 17, Patriots 10
3:43- Brady gets mauled again and it's time to pull the plug for the day before he gets hurt. He can't drop back without getting crushed and New England has already locked up the two seed; it makes sense to let this one go because you'd rather have a healthy Patriots team go to Denver for the AFC Championship than have an injured Patriots team lose in the divisional round. There is no shame in 12-4 and the two seed; Dolphins 17, Patriots 10
4:02- The Dolphins pick up another three points on a short field goal to up their lead to ten with just under two minutes to go. The Patriots simply don't have the offensive personnel to compete today, but assuming they are healthy for the divisional round, New England should be fine offensively in the playoffs.
4:05- The Dolphins kick another field goal, and Jimmy Garoppolo has entered the game, signaling that the Patriots have waived the white flag and will escape Miami with what they really wanted- no major injuries. Dolphins 20, Patriots 10
4:12- That'll do it here from Miami as the Dolphins beat the Patriots and prevent New England from wrapping up the top seed in the AFC. New England finishes their regular season 12-4 and the Dolphins finish a disappointing 6-10.
FINAL SCORE- DOLPHINS 20, PATRIOTS 10
*Playoff Scenario- If the Broncos beat the Chargers this afternoon, New England will become the two seed in the AFC and will play either Cincinnati, Houston, or Kansas City in the Divisional Round in Foxboro. If Denver is the top seed, they would face either Houston, Kansas City, or Pittsburgh (their nightmare). The two seed may not be such a bad spot to be in because Denver would have to most likely play Pittsburgh, and if not them, it's Kansas City, who should dismantle Houston on Wild Card Weekend. In 1996 the Broncos were the one seed, the Patriots were the two, and Denver lost in a historic upset to Mark Brunell and the Jacksonville Jaguars. We may see history repeat itself.
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