Blog Entry

Patriots come back on Dolphins, clinch bye

Posted on: December 24, 2011 4:40 pm
D. Branch scores a TD to help New England to its comeback win against Miami (AP).By Josh Katzowitz

All is right in the world. Well, in the AFC, at least. Especially if you’re a New England fan.

Despite falling behind by 17 points at halftime, the Patriots battled back in a hot third quarter and escaped with a 27-24 win in order to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs and secure at least one home game. 

It was a surprising turnaround for New England, simply because the Patriots looked so bad in the first half. But Tom Brady, who completed only 3 of his first 14 passes, went on a streak in which he connected on 19 of 25 to help score 17 unanswered in the first 13 minutes of the second half. Somehow the Patriots defense, the worst in the league, mostly shut down Miami in the final two quarters.

While the running game never got much going -- probably because the Patriots were without three starting linemen (Logan Mankins, Matt Light, Sebastian Vollmer) -- Brady and his receivers heated up in the final 30 minutes.

After taking a 27-17 lead, Matt Moore -- who finished 17 of 33 for 294 yards, three scores and an interception -- tossed a touchdown pass to Davone Bess with 1:48 to play to cut the lead to three. But all the Patriots needed was one first down, and they got it with a Brady-to-Welker pass.

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