Remember when the Patriots were 2-2, with their 128 points allowed inviting questions about their defense? Yeah, well, that was a long, long time ago.
The Patriots won their seventh game in a row to improve to 9-2, with a three-game lead over the Bills in the AFC East. New England has not allowed more than 17 points in its past seven games.
The Dolphins scored 17 on Sunday, with one touchdown coming from their defense, but it wasn’t close to being enough. The Patriots had a workmanlike 35-17 win, leading from start to finish. New England had 417 yards to the Dolphins’ 221.
The victory guaranteed the Patriots of a winning record for a 17th consecutive season, breaking a tie with San Francisco (1983-98) and Dallas (1970-85) for the most consecutive winning seasons since the 1970 merger.
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, completing 18 of 28 passes for 227 yards. He also threw an interception to Bobby McCain, who later was ejected for throwing a punch at Danny Amendola. Brady was credited with a lost fumble that Reshad Jones returned 14 yards for a touchdown, but backup center Ted Karras snapped the ball before Brady was ready.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns, his 16th career multi-touchdown receiving game. That set a team record he had shared with Randy Moss. Brandin Cooks caught six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore completed 23 of 34 passes for 215 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Miami lost its fifth game in a row to fall to 4-7.