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(Sunday, November 8th)
Final Score: New England 27, Miami 17
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Tom Brady threw for 332 yards and hit Randy Moss with the go-ahead 71-yard score in the third quarter, as the New England Patriots opened some breathing room in the AFC East with a 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.
Brady completed 25-of-37 passes with the one touchdown and an interception, while Moss hauled in six balls for 147 yards. Wes Welker contributed nine catches for 84 yards in the victory.
Laurence Maroney chipped in 82 yards with a touchdown on the ground for New England (6-2), which had a bye last week after a victory over Tampa Bay in London and has won three straight to grab a two-game lead over the idle New York Jets in the AFC East.
"Another game that came right down to the wire," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "Miami made some plays, we made a few more. It's good to win that game. Miami was 3-0 in the division coming in. It was a huge win for us."
The Dolphins (3-5) could have tightened the division and made it a three-team race with a victory Sunday, but instead failed to build off last week's win against the Jets and fell to 3-1 within the AFC East.
"Against a guy like Tom Brady...you can't just come out here and blitz the guy. You just can't," Miami coach Tony Sparano said. "We've got to do a better job of putting pressure on the passer, period."
Miami stunned New England in last year's trip to Foxboro, unveiling the Wildcat formation in a 38-13 win. Ronnie Brown ran for four touchdowns and threw for another score in that game.
Brown managed only 48 yards on 15 carries in this one, but again threw for a score. Ricky Williams added a touchdown run and rookie Pat White ignited the Wildcat with 45 yards on six carries.
Chad Henne completed 19-of-34 passes for 219 yards without a touchdown or an interception in defeat.
The Dolphins trailed 16-10 at the break, but took the lead with a 10-minute drive to start the third quarter. Using a combination of the Wildcat and a conventional offense, Miami marched 66 yards on 16 plays with four third-down conversions and one on fourth down. Brown capped the lengthy series with a one-yard touchdown pass to Joey Haynos out of the Wildcat formation to give the Dolphins a 17-16 lead.
It took New England just 96 seconds to answer. On third down from the 29, Moss took a crossing route pass and stiff-armed rookie cornerback Vontae Davis before sprinting the rest of the way for a 71-yard score. Moss also hauled in a two-point conversion toss to give the Patriots a 24-17 lead with 3:15 to play in the third.
"We just executed," Moss said about the big play. "Everybody did what they had to do. You have to commend all 11 guys. Everybody did everything right on that play."
A roughing the passer penalty negated a New England interception on Miami's following series, but the Patriots snuffed out a double-reverse pass out of the Wildcat for an 11-yard sack on the final play of the third quarter and eventually forced a punt.
"The double-reverse pass turned out to be a huge play for us," Belichick added.
The Dolphins got the ball back after a punt and reached the New England 42 before a third-down pass fell incomplete with 5:45 remaining, but the Miami defense forced a Patriots punt and the offense took possession at their own 14 with no timeouts and 3:38 left.
Henne threw for one first down, but four straight incomplete passes turned it over to New England at the Miami 27 with 2:50 to play. The Patriots couldn't pick up a first down, but Stephen Gostkowski made it a 10-point game with a 40-yard field goal with 1:09 remaining.
"We have to be a little more efficient in protection and making plays down field," said Henne of the Dolphins' hurry-up offense. "We do put some emphasis on that during the week."
The Patriots tested Miami's rookie corners early and Davis outleaped Moss on a deep ball to come down with a juggling interception on the third play from scrimmage.
New England appeared to score a defensive touchdown on Miami's first offensive series, as Adalius Thomas returned a fumble by Henne. The Dolphins challenged and the play was overturned, ruled an incomplete pass after it was determined Henne's arm was moving forward. The reversal enabled the Dolphins to take a 3-0 lead on a 52-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter.
Brady and Moss connected on New England's next drive for a 36-yard pass that set up Laurence Maroney's one-yard touchdown run for a 7-3 lead. The Patriots tacked on a 30-yard field goal from Gostkowski just under six minutes into the second quarter, but the Dolphins answered with a variation of the Wildcat.
After Brown took a direct snap two yards on the first play after the kickoff, backup quarterback White entered the game and broke free for 33 yards on his first play. After a pass interference penalty set up a first down at the New England 15, White made an option pitch to Williams, who took it the rest of the way for the tying touchdown.
Back to the air went the Patriots and Brady efficiently moved the offense into Miami territory before an offensive pass interference penalty derailed the drive and eventually forced a 38-yard Gostkowski field goal with 2:45 left in the half.
New England got the ball back at its own 14 with 1:43 remaining and quickly threatened thanks to a pair of pass interference penalties against the Dolphin secondary. With 30 seconds left from the Miami 12, Brady threw incomplete and was sacked. He went for the end zone one more time to Moss with time winding down and the pass fell to the turf with just one second left, enabling Gostkowski to boot a 34-yard field goal for a 16-10 lead.
"The biggest problem for us was in the red zone," Belichick remarked. "Miami's got a good red area defense and they held us to field goals. We have to do a better job getting the ball in the end zone, but give them credit, they have a good [red zone] defense."
Moss has 140 career receiving touchdowns, tying him for second all-time with Terrell Owens. He also moved into seventh place all-time in receiving yards with 13,913...The Patriots lost center Dan Koppen in the first half with a leg injury...Davis injured a quad for Miami late in the first quarter, but returned before halftime...The Dolphins promoted linebacker J.D. Folsom from the practice squad to the active roster before the game and released linebacker William Kershaw...The Patriots promoted defensive back Kyle Arrington from the practice squad to the active roster to fill the roster vacancy created when guard Kendall Simmons was released Friday...Miami hosts Tampa Bay next Sunday, while New England visits unbeaten Indianapolis.
11/08 20:52:55 ET