BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots look to lock up the AFC East with a win over the Miami Dolphins this afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Follow along for all the updates throughout the game!

Final: Patriots 41, Dolphins 13

The Patriots have some new hats and t-shirts.

The Pats are AFC Champions once again thanks to their 41-13 win over the Miami Dolphins. It’s their sixth straight AFC East crown, and the 12th for both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick during their time in New England.

The Patriots offense put a poor first half behind them and exploded for 24 points in the third quarter. Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdowns in the quarter, one to Rob Gronkowski and another to Julian Edelman, and also picked up a huge first down with his legs to start the half: A 17-yard scramble on 3rd-and-11 that fired the team and fans up after their slow start to the day.

New England improved to 11-3 with the win and remain the top team in the AFC. They close out the season with two more games against division foes, next Sunday against the Jets in New York and the Bills at Gillette in two weeks.

4th Quarter, 2:25: Another sack for the Patriots defense, their fourth of the day, as Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower get to Tannehill on 4th and 23.

And now it’s Jimmy Time for the Patriots, with Jimmy Garoppolo taking the field.

4th Quarter, 3:19: Rob Ninkovich just sacked Tannehill for his eighth sack on the season.

He becomes the first Patriot to have three straight seasons of eight or more sacks since Hall of Famer Andre Tippett.

4th Quarter, 6:20 — Patriots 41, Dolphins 13: Stephen Gostkowski adds to his franchise leading points total with another field goal, a 36-yarder, to put the Patriots up 41-13.

4th Quarter, 7:50: The Pats are up big in the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady is still slinging the football.

On New England’s current drive, Brady has a 19-yard connection to LaFell and a 31-yard hookup with Edelman on a beautiful back shoulder connection. They’re now in Miami territory, so maybe the run game will take over shortly.

4th Quarter, 11:21: Miami is unraveling.

They had a free first down thanks to an unneccisarry roughness penalty on Brandon Browner, but that was negated when Brandon Gibson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for a bit of retaliation.

Two plays later, the Dolphins turned it over on downs.

One more injury to note though. Dan Connolly is questionable to return for New England with a neck injury. Josh Kline is in for Connolly.

4th Quarter, 11:26: The Patriots defense is swarming now, playing with as much confidence as the offense.

Chandler Jones got to Tannehill as he dropped back to pass, knocking the ball out of the QB’s hand in the process. Miami recovered, but the New England pass rush is making life difficult for Tannehill.

The Patriots now have two sacks on the day, both coming in the second half.

End 3rd Quarter — Patriots 38, Dolphins 13: Get those hats and t-shirts ready. It’s going to take a miracle for the Dolphins to get back into this one.

The Patriots woke up in the third quarter after a lackluster first half, outscoring Miami 24-0. The Dolphins had just one play in New England territory in the third quarter.

3rd Quarter, 1:29 — Patriots 38, Dolphins 13: The Patriots are making it look easy now.

After hooking up with Gronk for a 35-yard reception on 2nd down, Brady found Edelman in the corner of the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the day.

The Patriots now have 24 points in the third quarter. Whatever Bill said (or threw) in the locker room at halftime, it’s working.

3rd Quarter, 2:58: The Patriots D forces another three-and-out, as the Miami offense looks lost.

Chung nearly had his second pick in under a minute on the first play of the drive. The Patriots will now start at the Miami 41 after a short Dolphins punt.

3rd Quarter, 4:30 — Patriots 31, Dolphins 13: The Dolphins looked so good heading into halftime, and have looked so bad coming out of it.

Tannehill threw over the middle looking for Miller, who was destroyed by Brandon Browner. The ball went into the air, and came down in Patrick Chung’s hands.

One play later, Brady hit Gronk for a 27-yard touchdown and the Patriots are rolling with a 31-13 lead. That’s Gronk’s 11th touchdown on the year.

There’s still a lot of football left, but the Dolphins now look like the Patriots from the first half.

3rd Quarter, 4:43 — Patriots 24, Miami 13: The Patriots added a field goal, but they probably could have had more. Tom Brady missed an open Rob Gronkowski on a 2nd and 10 attempt down the field, which would have likely ended with Gronk in the end zone.

Instead, Brady and LaFell could only get seven yards on a third down pass, and New England settled for three points from Stephen Gostkowski to take a 24-13 lead.

With that field goal, Stephen Gostkowski moved past Adam Vinatieri to become the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer with 1160 points.

3rd Quarter, 8:46: The New England offense didn’t get much rest on the sidelines, with the defense forcing a quick three-and-out by Miami.

Miller was stuffed by Vince Wilfork on a 3rd and 3 attempt up the middle, forcing a Dolphins punt. Edelman did some dancing on the return, and the Patriots will take over at their own 36-yard line.

3rd Quarter, 9:58: Corner Kyle Arrington has been ruled out for the rest of the game. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on Malcolm Butler.

3rd Quarter, 11:04 — Patriots 21, Dolphins 13: Statement made.

 What fires up the Patriots and Gillette Stadium even more than a Gronk spike? A Tom Brady run for a first down.

Facing a 3rd-and-11, Brady called his own number and ran for 17 yards to the Miami 3-yard line. He took a shot at the end and was thrown out of bounds before he could find the end zone, but LeGarrette Blount took care of that one play later to put New England on top 21-13.

Brady’s run was the third longest of his career, and longest since a 19-yard run against the Colts in 2007. He is currently New England’s leading rusher on the day.

The second-half Patriots look much different from the team who took the field in the first half. Now they just have to maintain this level for the next 26 minutes and they’ll have their spot in the postseason.

3rd Quarter, 12:40: Brandon LaFell looks OK too, as he just came down with a 14-yard reception on a first down pass from Brady.

3rd Quarter, 14:26: We have a Gronk sighting.

On the first play of the half, Brady hit his big tight end for a 34-yard pickup on a nice play-action pass. The Patriots are already in Miami territory.

Halftime — Patriots 14, Dolphins 13: The first half couldn’t have ended any worse for the Patriots, who gave up a last-second touchdown to Miami after a quick three-and-out.

Both the offense and the defense have struggled, as the Patriots have just 102 yards of total offense. The Dolphins have 271 yards already, with 197 of those coming in the passing game.

Tom Brady has looked off all afternoon, going 8-for-15 for 82 yards and an interception. New England may have 14 points on the board, but one touchdown came on special teams on blocked field goal returned for a score, and the other came on a one-yard run after the defense picked off Tannehill and returned it 60 yards deep in Miami territory.

Rob Gronkowski has not been a factor in this one, and the Patriots are not generating anything on the ground with just 20 rushing yards.

To make matters worse there are a few injuries to monitor too. Kyle Arrington is questionable to return with a hamstring injury, and Brandon LaFell was seen limping off the field just before the half.

There is some good news, as a lucky Patriots fan just won a $1 million on the field. Maybe some of that luck will stay on the field for the second half.

2nd Quarter, 0:05 — Patriots 14, Dolphins 13: New England’s conservative play calling at the end of the half has come back to bite them. In their one shot down field, Tannehill connected with Mike Wallace for a 32-yard score (the play was originally ruled incomplete, but reversed after a review). Malcolm Butler, who is on Wallace due to Arrington’s injury, was burned on the play.

It’s a huge play for Miami, with New England getting the ball back to star the second half. The Patriots haven’t been able to get any momentum going in their favor, and now it’ll be on Miami’s side heading into the second half.

Brandon Lafell just limped off the field as well.

2nd Quarter, 0:11: A 32-yard punt return by Jarvis Landry has the Dolphins set up in New England territory.

They’re at the New England 32, and are looking at a 50+-yard field goal at the moment.

2nd Quarter, 0:36: Or not. Brady and the Patriots are OK handing the ball off to Shane Vereen and letting the clock wind down.

Miami has two timeouts though (after using their firs after Vereen’s run), and might have other plans.

2nd Quarter, 0:40: The Patriots offense will get one more crack at putting points on the board before the half after the defense forces a Miami punt.

Miami picked up three first downs on the drive, but stalled when Tannehill overthrew Matthews deep on 1st and 10 from the New England 46, Rob Ninkovich batted down a Tannehill pass on the following play, and then Mike Wallace stepped out of bounds before bringing in a potential first-down reception.

The Pats will have 40 seconds to go 85 yards before halftime.

2nd Quarter, 2:07: Tom Brady and the Patriots offense looks very off so far in this one.

After Miami chose not to accept a holding penalty on New England, which would have set up a 2nd and 20, Brady went deep to Gronkowski down the sidelines. Cortland Finnegan was all over the play though, and was able to knock the pass away with ease down field.

Brady had another pass knocked down at the line earlier in the drive, the third time that has happened today.

2nd Quarter, 4:26 — Patriots 14, Dolphins 6: The Dolphins just had a golden opportunity to find the end zone for the first time of the day, but let it slip right through their fingertips.

After Dont’a Hightower exploded into the backfield and dropped Miller for a five-yard loss, Tannehill went deep to Damien Williams down the sidelines. With Jamie Collins a few feet behind him, it looked like a sure touchdown when the ball left Tannehills hand. But Williams couldn’t hang on to the pass, and it fell out of his hands before he gross the goal line.

So instead of putting up seven points, the Dolphins settled for three.

2nd Quarter, 6:15: The Dolphins just picked up a first down on a 3rd and 3 play in which Tannehill had a solid 20 seconds to throw the ball. He bought some time with a scramble, and hit Jarvis Landry for five yards against Darrelle Revis.

To make matters worse, Kyle Arrington went down on the play with what looks like a hamstring injury. He’s been huge as the slot corner on New England’s defense this season, and as we saw earlier, he’s also making plays on special teams.

2nd Quarter, 7:59 — Patriots 14, Dolphins 3: A few plays after Harmon’s pick, Shane Vereen punched it in from three yards out to put New England on top 14-3.

That was Vereen’s first rushing touchdown since Week 1 in Miami.

The Patriots only have 88 yards of offense, but they find themselves with a 14-3 advantage thanks to some big plays by the defense and special teams units.

2nd Quarter, 8:41: The Dolphins were moving, but Tannehill was too high on a bid for Brandon Gibson and Duron Harmon took advantage.

Tannehill went looking for Gibson over the middle of the field on a 3rd and 14, but pressure forced a high throw by the Miami QB. Harmon returned the pick 60 yards down to the Miami 8-yard line.

2nd Quarter, 12:09: The Patriots’ drive stalled out around midfield, with a costly five-yard false start on Dan Connolly putting a wrench in things.

Connolly was whistled for the penalty after LeGarrette Blount powered his way for a yard up the middle to pick up a first down on a 3rd and 1. Brady went to Blount on a play action pass for two yards on 1st and 15, but his next pass was too low for Edelman over the middle on second down.

Brady then went to Danny Amendola on 3rd and 13, but Amendola came up two yards short of moving the chains. It looked as though Brady and Co. would go for it on fourth down, but Ryan Allen and the special teams unit ran out midway through the play clock, and Allen booted it 37 yards to the Miami 10.

The Dolphins are doing a great job taking Rob Gronkowski out of this one so far. The Patriots offense hasn’t been able to find their rhythm yet.

End 1st Quarter — Patriots 7, Dolphins 3: The Patriots picked up a first down just ahead of the end of the quarter, with Brady hitting Shane Vereen for 12 yards on a 3rd and 8 play.

Brady is feeling the pressure from the Dolphins’ pass rush, and had another pass batted at the line before hitting Vereen to move the chains.

The Patriots will start at their own 35-yard line when the second quarter gets underway.

1st Quarter, 0:59 — Patriots 7, Dolphins 3: The Patriots are loading up for the pass, so the Dolphins are taking advantage on the ground.

The Dolphins marched 60 yards down the field on nine plays, but had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Sturgis. Devin McCourty made a nice play on Charles Clay in the end zone to break up a 3rd and goal pass from Tannehill.

Tannehil and Clay picked up 22 yards on a big 1st and 15 play to start the drive (after a Miami false start), and the Miami running backs picked up 27 yards on the ground. A defensive holding on Jamie Collins also gave Miami a free five yards in the middle of the drive.

1st Quarter, 5:53: It was a Tom Brady-Julian Edelman drive, until Jason Trusnik had to ruin the fun.

The Miami defensive lineman tipped a Brady pass at the line and intercepted it at the Miami 34, ending what looked to be a very good drive by New England. Brady was looking for Brandon LaFell on the play, but probably should have stuck with Minitron.

Brady went 3-for-4 on the drive, hitting Edelman three times for 37 yards. Edelman also rushed for six yards on a 3rd and 1.

1st Quarter, 8:21: The Dolphins are going for the big play today, it just isn’t working out very well so far.

Miami picked up a pair of first downs on their recent drive, but a 15-yard facemask made things difficult to continue marching down the field. Facing a 3rd and 15, Tannehill went deep for Brian Hartline but couldn’t connect. The pass was a little long, and it didn’t look like Hartline could see it in the sun.

Chandler Jones was on the field for that third down play, and was on the field for Miami’s first third down play of the game as well.

The Dolphins were forced to punt, and Ne England will take over at their own 20-yard line.

1st Quarter, 12:36 — Patriots 7, Miami 0: The Patriots special teams unit has done it again.

Malcolm Butler forgot it was a 1 pm start, and gave up a 50-yard completion to Mike Wallace on the first play of the game, but the New England special teams didn’t care.

After the New England D stopped Miami on the next three plays (though it’s unclear why the Dolphins ran the ball on 3rd and 6), Jamie Collins blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt by Sturgis, and Kyle Arrington returned it 62 yards for the touchdown.

It’s the second time this season the Patriots have scored a touchdown on a blocked field goal, and the second time in Arrigton’s career he’s returned a blocked kick for a touchdown against Miami. It’s the fourth special teams touchdown for the Patriots this season.

The Patriots now have three blocked field goals this season, tying the franchise record.

1st Quarter, 15:00: The Patriots won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.

Pregame — 12:35pm: Drew Bledsoe is in the house, and just gave Robert Kraft a hug at mid-field.

Bledsoe was given a warm welcome from Patriots fans when he was shown on the big screen.

Pregame — 12:15pm: Bill Belichick didn’t really discuss the possibility of clinching the AFC East during the week, and he didn’t really get into it on Sunday morning either.

“It’s the first step,” he told Scott Zolak on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Patriots Preview. “It means we’re in the playoffs and we have a game at home.”

So very simple, isn’t it? Winning their division is the first goal for the Patriots in their season-long journey, so it should never be taken lightly. Here’s a quick look at all the teams currently vying for a playoff spot in the AFC:

Jonathan Kraft told Gary Tanguay and Andy Gresh on 98.5 The Sports Hub that these “hat and t-shirt” games never get old.

“They absolutely don’t. We have to get the hat and t-shirt, which means we have to have a good day,” he said. “But if we do, it means one of our goals is achieved.”

And for some more analysis on Chandler Jones’ role in today’s game, check out ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss on WBZ-TV’s Patriots GameDay:

Pregame — 11:30am: The New England pass rush may get a big boost this afternoon, with defensive end Chandler Jones active for this one.

It’s the first time Jones has been active in the last six games. He’ll likely only play a limited role, but any pressure from the big man off the edge will help the New England defense as they try to get to Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who missed last week’s win in San Diego with a shoulder injury, is also active and expected to play today.

Here is the full list of New England’s inactives:

CB Alfonzo Dennard
OL Jordan Devey
OL Cameron Fleming
RB James White
LB Chris White
DL Dominque Easley
DL Zach Moore

Pregame — 11:15 am: The Dolphins handed the Patriots a 33-20 loss in Miami to open the season, so there is plenty of motivation for New England as they enter this “hat and t-shirt” game. The Dolphins had some things to say about the Patriots following that season-opening win, and Bill Belichick has been using that as motivation throughout the week.

From the facebook page of ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

On screens inside Patriots’ training facility, NE displayed quotes from Miami players after they beat Patriots in opener, about how Patriots quit, about how they took it to them. Each Patriot was able to repeatedly walk past and read the multitude of quotes the Miami players said about them after the opener.

Schefter also brought this up on ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” on Sunday morning (from Mike Reiss):

“The Patriots are raring to go against a Dolphins team that has beaten them two straight games. On the screens inside the Patriots training facility, New England displayed multiple quotes from Miami players after they beat the Patriots in the regular-season opener, about how the Patriots players quit, about how they took it to them, and each Patriot was able to repeatedly walk past and read the multitude of quotes the Miami players said about them after the opener. Someone wanted New England to remember.”

It’s never a good idea to provide the Patriots bulletin board material, especially with a master motivator like Bill Belichick.

The Patriots haven’t been swept by an AFC East opponent since 2000, when they lost both of their games to the Dolphins and Jets.

MORE PATRIOTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON
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