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Patriots-Dolphins LIVE Blog: Brady Picked To End Comeback Bid, Dolphins Win 24-20

By Matthew Geagan, CBSBoston
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Follow along for all the updates in Sunday’s Patriots-Dolphins matchup in Miami.

Final — Dolphins 24, Patriots 20: No late-game comeback in this one. Brady went looking for Austin Collie on 4th down, but was picked off  by Michael Thomas in the end zone.

Brady finished the game 34-of-55 for 364 yards, and was locked in at times in the second half. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola both had over 130 receiving yards, but Shane Vereen was completely shut out in this one. The versatile back had just 21 total yards on two carries and three receptions.

The Pats fall to 10-4 with the loss, and miss out on a chance to claim the top seed in the AFC.

Next weekend’s game in Baltimore just got a whole lot bigger for the Patriots. They’ll be keeping an eye on the Bengals later tonight as well, as they take on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Should the Bengals win tonight, the Pats will fall into the three-seed in the AFC standings.

4th Quarter, 0:07: Brady went to Hooman on 3rd-and-5, but his pass was too high.

The Patriots have one more chance to find the end zone. How’s the edge of your seat feel — again?

4th Quarter, 0:12: Danny Amendola had the go-ahead touchdown in his hands, but it was knocked out by Thomas in the end zone.

After a Miami offsides gave the Patriots a 2nd-and-5, Brady went to Edelman in the end zone but he was unable to come up with the grab (it was a little overthrown and the coverage was very good).

Patriots now have 12 ticks left to punch it in with no timeouts.

4th Quarter, 0:27: Facing a 3rd-and-10, Brady hit Edelman over the middle for a 12 yard pickup, but the Pats had to burn their final timeout to stop the clock.

Edelman is up to 13 catches for 139 yards.

4th Quarter, 0:37: Amendola again as Brady tries to lead the Pats to another amazing comeback.

This catch went for 24 yards down to the Miami 31.

Brady spikes the ball, and the Pats have one time out left.

4th Quarter, 0:52: Facing a 4th-and-8, Brady went to Amendola, who picked up 12 yards despite taking a huge hit after the catch.

4th Quarter, 1:15 — Dolphins 24, Patriots 20: Gostkowski’s kick out of bounds and the Patriots’ inability to stop the Dolphins on fourth down has come back to bite them.

With Dont’e Hightower on Thigpen, Tannehill hit the running back for a 14-yard touchdown to give Miami the lead. Hightower had no clue the pass was coming his way, and never even turned around on the play.

Time for some more Tom Brady magic. He has four career game-winning drives against Miami.

4th Quarter, 2:00: The Patriots’ offense could be on the field right now as we hit the two-minute warning, but the Dolphins came up with a huge conversion on 4th-and-5.

Charles Clay caught his first pass of the game, and Dane Fletcher nearly brought him down at the line of scrimmage to give the Pats the ball at the Miami 45. But Clay shaked off Fletcher, avoiding a diving Steve Gregory and picked up the first down to keep the drive alive.

Miami now has the ball at the New England 46 with all three timeouts remaining. This could get interesting.

4th Quarter, 4:07 — Patriots 20, Dolphins 17: Julian Edelman has to be the player of the game today.

He just made three Miami defenders miss and scampered 24 yards into the end zone to give the Patriots a 20-17 lead late in the fourth quarter.

Edelman is up to 12 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown, and the Patriots have come back once again. Now we see if they can hold on to this lead.

It didn’t start off well though, as Gostkowski’s kickoff went out of bounds. That’s the kiss of death for a kicker.

4th Quarter, 6:43: Just what the doctor ordered for the Patriots defense: a Miami 3-and-out.

Tannehill went deep to Wallace on 1st down, but his pass came up short as he felt the pressure from Chandler Jones.

After Miller picked up six yards on a 2nd down rush, a blitzing Dennard knocked down Tannehill’s pass on 3rd down to force a Miami punt.

Fields’ boot went 47 yards and bounced out of bounds at the New England 27.

4th Quarter, 7:45 — Dolphins 17, Patriots 13: The Patriots put together another 15-play drive that got them to the Miami 5-yard line, but once again they only come away with three points in the end.

Brady couldn’t connect with Vereen on 3rd-and-2, leading to a 23-yarder off the foot of Stephen Gosktowski. Miami has shut down Vereen today, holding the back to just six yards on two carries and 13 yards on two receptions.

Julian Edelman was all over the place on the drive, with five catches for 44 yards.

Now the Patriots D has to stop a Miami offense that has been moving the ball very well in the second half.

One injury note to pass along: Solder is done for the day with a head injury. Not good news for an offensive line that has struggled a bit in the second half.

4th Quarter, 9:44: The Patriots are driving, but they’re doing so with a lot of changes on the offensive line.

Nate Solder is on the sideline getting looked at, so Logan Mankins has shifted over to left tackle with Josh Kline shifting to left guard.

4th Quarter, 14:54 — Dolphins 17, Patriots 10: That didn’t take long. The Dolphins take their first lead of the day on a five-yard touchdown to Daniel Thomas.

After some misdirection, Tannehill hit his back in the flat and no Patriots defenders could get over in time.

Dane Fletcher was flagged for pass interference after tackling Dion Sims on a 3rd-and-4, giving the Dolphins another couple shots at the end zone.

That’s now 17-unanswered points by the Dolphins.

End Of 3rd Quarter — Patriots 10, Dolphins 10: The good news is Chandler Jones returned to the field. The bad news is Miami is just a few yards away from taking a lead.

The Dolphins have the ball on the New England 2 yard line after a bad PI on linebacker Dan Fletcher.

3rd Quarter, 2:58: Chandler Jones hit the ground and had to be attended to by the Pats’ medical staff, but it doesn’t look to be too serious.

Chances are Jones cramped up a bit in the Miami humidity. Let’s hope that’s the case, because the Miami offense is looking very good right now.

Hartline has two more grabs on this drive for 32 yards after being a non-factor in the first half.

3rd Quarter, 5:17: The Patriots come up short after Stevan Ridley picked up a first down on a couple of runs, as the Dolphins finally get to Brady.

Ridley picked up 13 yards on three runs to start the drive, but Boyce couldn’t hold on to a low throw from Brady (the ball hit the ground as he hauled it in — a play the rookie has to make) as the Pats’ QB was feeling the pressure from Cameron Wake.

Wake got to Brady on the very next play, giving the Dolphins their first sack of the afternoon.

The Dolphins have the momentum now, and will take over on their own 34 after a nine-yard punt return by Thigpen.

3rd Quarter, 7:31 — Patriots 10, Dolphins 10: A Caleb Sturgis 32-yard field goal has this game all tied at 10-10.

The Dolphins did what they wanted for the most part on the drive, picking up yards on the ground on first down and exploiting the Patriots’ secondary on long passes.

Brian Hartline, whose been nearly shut down by Alfonzo Dennard, had his first catch of the afternoon on the drive, picking up 19 yards on a 2nd-and-4 to get to the New England 20.

3rd Quarter 11:14: Stephen Gostkowski has been great this season, but he missed wide left on a 48-yarder that would have given the Patriots a 13-7 lead.

The miss breaks a streak of 21-straight that he’d made from under 50 yards, and just his third miss of the season.

On a lighter note, Josh Boyce is making the most of his opportunities with Dobson and Thompkins out. He hauled in a nice 30-yarder from Brady down the sideline on a 3rd-and-4, and has four catches for 42 yards on the day. He did, however, have a drop on a third-down target right before Gostkowski’s miss.

Halftime — Patriots 10, Dolphins 7: That was an interesting first half.

We got to see an amazing one-handed touchdown grab from a tight end not named Gronkowski, and someone get hit in the face by a football. Not bad for the first 30 minutes.

All kidding aside, it was about taking advantage of opportunities for both teams. After the Dolphins botched what could have been a game-tying field goal, the Patriots made them pay with a touchdown on the ensuing drive. The Pats could have had an opportunity to add to their 10-0 lead before the half, but they gave up a 24-yard completion on 3rd-and-10, and Miami scored their only touchdown a few plays later.

Offensively it was a much better start for the Patriots. While they only have 10 points, they’ve been moving the ball well and Tom Brady is spreading it out. Both Edelman and Amendola have four receptions, and six different Patriots have a catch.

The defense has actually been pretty decent today, sacking Tannehill three times in the first half. Third down has been an issue though, as Miami has converted four of their eight third down attempts.

We’ll see what adjustments they make at half, and if they can come out firing to add on to their now three point lead.

2nd Quarter, 0:32 — Patriots 10, Dolphins 7:  Well, that wasn’t pretty.

The Dolphins drive 82-yards down the field, and cap it off with a 39-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace.

Kyle Arrington made his way to the sideline with what looked like a groin injury, leaving Marquice Cole on Wallace. The receiver shaked off Cole after making the catch, and ran right by Steve Gregory to find the end zone.

Other than the touchdown, the play that really killed the Patriots was a 24-yard pickup by Rishard Matthews on 3rd-and-10. Instead of forcing a punt, and potentially giving the Patriots another chance to score, Miami kept the drive alive and made the Patriots pay a few plays later.

2nd Quarter, 1:38 — Patriots 10, Dolphins 0: No Gronk, no problem.

Well, let’s not get too crazy, but Michael Hoomanwanui (who will be referred to as Hooman from now on) pulled in a beautiful one-handed touchdown on third-and-8 to put New England up 10-0.

Hooman, who missed the last three games, made the twisting grab in the back end of the end zone with linebacker Philip Wheeler all over him.

What a swing for the Dolphins, who were lining up for a game-tying field goal just a few minutes ago.

2nd Quarter, 2:00: We’ve hit the 2-minute warning, but so far this drive is all about Danny Amendola.

He kicked things off with a 30-yard pickup on first down, bringing the Patriots to the Miami 39. He picked up 11 yards and seven yards on the next two plays, respectively, and the Patriots are now set up at the Miami 21.

Amendola now leads receivers with four catches for 56 yards, and Brady has completed his last seven passes.

It’d be nice if the Patriots could find the end zone here before heading into the locker room, as they also get the ball to start the second half.

2nd Quarter, 3:35: This game should be tied, but Brandon Fields’ face got in the way for Miami.

Fields wasn’t paying attention as Miami lined up for the field goal attempt, and the snap hit him right in the face. The Patriots pounced on the ball and Nate Ebner recovered at their own 31.

The Pats were able to get to Tannehill twice on the drive, and are up to three sacks on the day.

2nd Quarter, 8:12: Nothing doing for the Patriots, as the Dolphins force a three-and-out.

Brady hit Josh Boyce for four yards on a first down pass, but after Blount picked up just one yard on a second down run, Edelman was immediately met by Brent Grimes after a short pass by Brady and tossed to the ground.

Allen booted the ball 57 yards before it went out of bounds at the Miami 33.

That was the fifth punt of the afternoon.

2nd Quarter, 10:16: Miami picked up a pair of first downs, but the Patriots made some stops when they had to and forced another Miami punt.

After Tannehill hit Marcus Thigpen for a nine-yard pickup on 3rd-and-3, Kyle Arrington sacked the Miami QB for a four-yard loss on first down. Miller only picked up one-yard on a draw up the middle, and Tannehill and Michael Egnew could only pick up 11 yards on 3rd-and-13.

But the Dolphins got a generous bounce on the ensuing punt, and the Patriots will have to start at their own 2-yard line.

End 1st Quarter — Patriots 3, Dolphins 0: Nothing doing for the Patriots on that drive, as they are forced to punt after picking up just one first down.

That first down came from the legs of Stevan Ridley, who broke off an 11-yard run on his first carry of the game.

But Ridley was hit for a three-yard loss on his next carry, and the Dolphins were able to contain Shane Vereen on the next two plays. Dannell Ellerbe got to him before a screen play could develop into anything, and Reshad Jones stopped him after a six-yard pass from Brady on third down.

The Ellerbe-Vereen matchup is one to watch, as the linebacker has done a good job keeping Vereen in check early on.

The Dolphins will start on their own 6-yard line after a 40-yard punt by Ryan Allen.

1st Quarter, 2:25: The Dolphins were called for an illegal block on the kickoff, and had to set up shot at their own 6-yard line.

After Donald Thomas picked up two yards on first down, Tannehill went to Wallace on a screen for six yards. But the Miami quarterback couldn’t hook up with Charles Clay on third down thanks to some good defense by Devin McCourty, forcing a Dolphins’ three-and-out.

After a 51-yard punt, the Patriots will take over on their own 35-yard line.

1st Quarter, 3:57 — Patriots 3, Dolphins 0: The Patriots put together a great 16-play drive that took them down to the Miami 4-yard line, converting three third downs along the way, but had to settle for a field goal after coming up short in the Red Zone.

LaGarette Blount got the start as the premiere back, and picked up 25 yards on five carries and another six yards on a reception. Brady spread the ball around on the drive, connecting with four different receivers on the drive. Julian Edelman led the way with three catches for 34 yards, including a nice 22-yard grab that set the Patriots up in the Red Zone.

But they couldn’t punch it into the end zone, with Brady unable to hit Josh Boyce over the middle in the end zone.

Stephen Gotskowski kick 22-yard chip shot to give the Patriots their first first half lead since Week 9 against the Steelers.

1st Quarter, 10:32: The Dolphins are taking advantage of the struggling Patriots rush defense early on, with Lamar Miller picking up 17 yards on four rushes.

But the Patriots D was able to get off the field, as Jamie Collins made a nice play in coverage on Michael Egnew on a 2nd-and-6 play, and Ryan Tannehill couldn’t hook up with Rishard Matthews on 3rd-and-6.

Miami picked up two first downs on the drive, but the Patriots defense came up with some stops. The Patriots will get the ball now on their own 13 after an Edelman fair catch.

Pregame — 1:00 p.m.: The Patriots win the coin toss, and elect to defer to the second half.

Pregame — 12:01 p.m.: The Patriots have a chance to clinch their fifth straight AFC East crown and inch closer to the top seed in the AFC on Sunday, but a tough matchup with the Miami Dolphins is standing in the way.

Winners of two straight, Miami (7-6) is battling for one of the final Wild Card spots with three other teams. New England has won seven straight against the Dolphins, but Miami will have a whole new sense of urgency with their playoff lives riding on Sunday’s outcome.

The key for the Patriots is to get off to a quick start, something that has escaped them over the last month. They’ve turned the ball over early on, leading to first half deficits that they’ve had to make up for in the second half (usually in the closing minutes). They did the same thing against the Dolphins in Week 8 in New England, scoring 24 unanswered in the second half after trailing 17-3 at halftime.

READ: What To Watch For

While the Patriots have been successful with their comeback bids, it’s not something they can bank on week-in and week-out.

Getting an early lead will allow the Patriots to run the ball, something the Dolphins have had issues stopping this season. Miami ranks 23rd in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 118.8 rush yards per game. This could be a big game for Patriots back Stevan Ridley, who is looking to get back into the offense after his benching in Week 13 against Houston. Ridley got eight carries last week against Cleveland, rushing for 35 yards, and today could go a long way in building his confidence for the final weeks of the regular season and the playoffs.

Of course the big question is who steps up and picks up the slack with Rob Gronkowski done for the rest of the season. Shane Vereen is the likely candidate due to his versatility out of the back field, but it’s going to take a full team effort from everyone to fill that void.

Both Aaron Dobson (foot) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) were declared inactive on Saturday, and were joined by newcomer D.J. Williams, who was declared inactive on Sunday morning. The Pats will go with Matthew Mulligan and Michael Hoomanawanui as their two active tight ends on Sunday.

The Patriots defense will have their hands full with a Dolphins offense that has looked pretty good over the last two weeks. Despite snowy conditions in Pittsburgh, tight end Charles Clay hauled in two touchdowns in last week’s win, and Aqib Talib will be busy covering receiver Mike Wallace, who will be looking to have a big week after just two catches against the Steelers.

The Patriots were able to pester Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Week 8, sacking him six times while forcing a fumble and two interceptions, and putting pressure on the QB will be a big factor again on Sunday. Chandler Jones will have a tough matchup with tackle Bryant McKinnie, but will be thirsty to get to Tannehill after being held without a sack in each of the last two games.

READ: Patriots-Dolphins Week 14 Predictions

While nearly everyone in New England was busy shoveling themselves out on Sunday, the Patriots will have to handle some heat in Miami. It will be in the 80’s during the game, but the humidity will be a big factor to deal with. The Patriots practiced indoors during the week to help simulate the heat, so we’ll see if it plays into this afternoon’s tilt.

It could be a hat and t-shirt day for the Patriots, so stick with CBSBostonsports.com throughout the game for all the updates.

MORE PATRIOTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON

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