It wasn’t the prettiest Patriots performance that you’ll ever see, but the result was still pretty good for the Patriots.
They wrapped up the AFC East with a 23-16 win over the Dolphins that featured almost no offensive fireworks in the second half. There was no scoring in the third quarter and just four field goals in the fourth as the Patriots defense made an early lead stand up all day.
Miami picked up 277 yards all day against a Patriots defense that made life very difficult for Ryan Tannehill. Before picking up 56 yards on two passes in the final seconds, Tannehill had thrown for 130 yards while completing less than half his passes. Trevor Scott, playing more in place of the injured Chandler Jones, had two sacks and forced a fumble in the first half. The Dolphins defense held up well in the second half too, but they couldn’t get off the field in the fourth quarter when the game was hanging in the balance.
The Patriots offense salted the game away with a 16-play, 7:18 drive for Stephen Gostkowski’s third field goal of the day in the fourth quarter. They picked up six first downs, relying mostly on Stevan Ridley to move the ball against the Dolphins defense. That put them up two scores with 75 seconds left in the game and the Dolphins’ gambit of kicking a field goal before recovering an onside kick didn’t make it.
Seeding is now the Patriots’ main concern, although they could have a tough time catching the Ravens if Baltimore beats Pittsburgh this afternoon. They’ll trail the Ravens by a game and Baltimore has the tiebreaker thanks to their 31-30 win over New England earlier this season.