The Patriots weren’t happy with their level of performance in last week’s win over a team from Florida already out of playoff contention so they brought a bit more to the field with them against the Dolphins this Sunday.
New England clicked in all phases of their game and crushed the Dolphins 28-0 to close out the regular season. With the Texans losing to the Colts earlier in the day, the Patriots have secured a bye for the first week of the playoffs and they will host the higher seeded team to advance from the Wild Card game in two weeks.
Everybody got to do a little work for the Pats. Stevan Ridley scored twice, Rob Gronkowski had two catches and a touchdown in his return to the lineup and Wes Welker caught eight passes for 94 yards in his typical day’s work. The offense wasn’t entirely crisp — Tom Brady hit on 22-of-36 passes — but it was more than enough to make the work of the defense stand up for the win.
Ryan Tannehill was picked off once and he botched a handoff with Reggie Bush that became a second turnover inside the Patriots’ 5-yard line. The Patriots also sacked Tannehill seven times, with defensive lineman Justin Francis picking up three of them to lead the team. They are the first three sacks of Francis’ career and it was a strong closing performance from the Patriots defense across the board with the playoffs ahead.
No playoffs await the Dolphins, although they do have copious amounts of cap space and a bit more security on the coaching staff and at quarterback than they’ve enjoyed in recent years. That’s a good place to start building a team that can join or replace the Patriots in the playoffs down the road.