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(Saturday, December 24th)
Final Score: New England 27, Miami 24
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Tom Brady recorded three second-half touchdowns, as the New England Patriots rallied to beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-24, at Gillette Stadium.
Brady connected on a scoring strike to Deion Branch and tied his career high with two TD runs for the Patriots (12-3), who erased a 17-0 halftime deficit to notched their seventh consecutive win and secure a first-round bye in the upcoming playoffs.
Matt Moore threw three touchdown passes for Miami (5-10), including a 15- yarder to Davone Bess with 1:48 to play. But the Dolphins' comeback bid was thwarted when Brady hit reliable target Wes Welker for six yards on 3rd-and-5 as the AFC East Champions ran out the clock.
Although the outcome was the same, Saturday's contest looked drastically different than the first meeting between these teams when Brady threw for a team-record 517 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-24 besting of the Dolphins in the season opener.
The Dolphins pressured Brady relentless in the first half, recording three sacks while limiting him to just 87 yards on 7-of-19 passing. However, the second half was another story as the Patriots recorded 27 straight points.
New England, which punted on each of its first six possessions, converted a fourth down on the opening drive of the third quarter before stalling at the Miami 26-yard line. After missing badly from 51 yards late in the first half, Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 45-yarder to put the Patriots on the board.
Moore fumbled the ball on a poor exchange with the center on the ensuing drive. Vince Wilfork recovered for New England at the Miami 38 and the turnover led Brady finding Branch in the back of the end zone.
The Patriots began their next possession at the Miami 41 after the Dolphins were forced to punt from their own end zone. Brady capped the seven-play drive by stretching across the goal line, tying the game with 2:17 remaining in the third.
The miscues continued for Miami in the fourth quarter as an interception by Devin McCourty gave New England the ball at its own two. The Patriots marched to the Miami 24 and seized the lead on a 42-yard Gostkowski field goal.
"We didn't turn it over today; I thought that was important," Brady said. "We got turnovers. Really, the last seven games it's been a huge key for us. It's hard to win games when you turn it over. We were the benefactor of some good plays by our defense that I thought the offense capitalized [on] when we got those plays, when we got short fields and we did a good job getting the ball in the end zone."
After another Miami punt, Brady put New England up by 10 with his second one- yard TD run.
"They just came out and they wanted it more in the second half than we did," said Dolphins interim head coach Todd Bowles.
A 47-yard Dan Carpenter field goal summed up all the scoring in the first quarter. Moore hooked up with Brandon Marshall and Charles Clay for touchdowns in the second quarter.
Brady completed 27-of-46 passes for 304 yards. He established a single-season career-high with 4,897 passing yards...Welker had 138 yards on 12 receptions and broke Randy Moss' single-season franchise-record for receiving yards (1,518). Moss finished 2007 with 1,493 receiving yards...Rob Gronkowski made seven grabs for 78 yards and set a New England record for most receiving yards by a tight end (1,219). Ben Coates had 1,174 receiving yards in 1994...New England has won 11 consecutive games in December...Moore had 294 yards through the air on 17-of-33 passing...Miami's Reggie Bush gained 113 yards on 22 carries...Bush, who eclipsed the century mark for the fourth straight game, went over 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career...New England starting left tackle Matt Light was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in pregame warmups.
12/24 18:05:32 ET