NFL Wire News

Patriots 41, Dolphins 13


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have taken care of the formality of clinching their sixth straight AFC East title.

Cornerback Kyle Arrington romped 62 yards and somersaulted into the end zone with a blocked field early and the Patriots broke open a close game in the third quarter en route to a 41-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins that wrapped up their 11th division crown in the last 12 years.

New England (11-3) has nine wins in its last 10 games and can ensure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with wins in its final two games.

The win kept the Dolphins (7-7) from becoming the first division opponent to sweep a season series from the Patriots since 2000 while also moving New England to 24-1 at home in December since 2003.

The Patriots, who lost at Miami in the opening game, have won 17 straight home games against their division, the second-longest such streak in the NFL since 1970.

New England is 7-0 at home this season.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter to become the Patriots’ all-time scoring leader, passing Adam Vinatieri. He kicked another field goal in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Tom Brady, clinching his NFL-record 12th division title, overcame a shaky first half with two second-half touchdown passes as the Patriots scored a club third quarter-record 24 straight points in the third quarter to break the game.

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannahill hit wide receiver Mike Wallace with a 50-yard bomb on the first play of the day. But linebacker Jamie Collins then blocked a 41-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis and Arrington, who would leave in the second quarter with a hamstring injury, scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught one of the touchdown passes, had three catches for 96 yards, clearing the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the second time in his career. Julian Edelman caught seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown and fellow wide receiver Brandon LaFell had six catches for 66 yards.

Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount scored rushing touchdowns for the Patriots, while Tannahill threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Wallace and Sturgis hit two field goals for the Dolphins, who were plagued by mistakes all day as their dwindling playoff hopes dwindled further.

Brady, who had a 41.5 quarterback rating while hitting 8 of 15 first-half passes, finished 21 of 35 for 287 yards, an interception and 93.4 rating. Tannahill, who was sacked four times, was 29 of 47 for 346 yards and two picks — the second on a deflection after officials clearly missed what should have been cornerback Brandon Browner’s third interference penalty of the day. He was later flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty.

Safety Duron Harmon returned an interception60 yards in the first half for New England.

Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry, leading NFL rookies in catches coming in, caught eight passes for 99 yards. He also had a 32-yard punt return.

NOTES: New England DE Chandler Jones returned after missing six games with a hip injury. … LB Dont’a Hightower was back after missing a game with a shoulder injury. … While the Dolphins were missing injured LBs Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi, CBs Jamar Taylor (dislocated shoulder, two games) and Cortland Finnegan (ankle, four) returned. … Patriots coach Bill Belichick moved into a tie with Curly Lambeau for fourth place on the all-time overall wins list, with 229, and also became the all-time division winner with his 12th. … The Dolphins have their last two games at home, against the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets, while the Patriots still visit the Jets and host the Buffalo Bills.

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