This may have been the best possible type of game for the Patriots to play heading into the postseason.
Down 17-0 at halftime with absolutely nothing working, the Patriots responded with 27 unanswered points by dominating both sides of the ball.
New England won 27-24 despite missing both starting tackles. Guard Logan Mankins started at left tackle, and quickly left with his own injury.
The Dolphins came back to score a touchdown with under two minutes remaining, but the Patriots never gave them the ball back. Tom Brady had a third-and-five with a chance to close out the game, and he hit Wes Welker for six yards.
Welker had 12 catches for 138 yards overall. He now has 116 on the season.
New England’s defensive effort shouldn’t get overlooked here. They forced two turnovers and two punts to start the second half when they absolutely needed it.
The win clinches a playoff bye for the Patriots, despite all their defensive problems. New England can clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC by beating the Bills in Foxborough next week.
This is far from a perfect Patriots team, but they have managed to put themselves in position for another Super Bowl run.