Patriots vs. Dolphins: Top 5 Defensive Plays of the Game

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots celebrates intercepting a Miami Dolphins pass with teammate Rob Ninkovich during the fourth quarter of New England's 27-24 win at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

The top five defensive plays from the Patriots 27-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Saturday:

5. 1st and 10 from MIA 17, 7:10 in 3rd Quarter: With the score cut to 17-10, the Patriots come up with a key coverage sack on Matt Moore. Moore had no receivers open down the field, and Patriots defensive linemen Brandon Deaderick and Shaun Ellis converge on Matt Moore, with Deaderick finishing the deed for a 10 yard sack.

4. 3rd and 11 from from MIA 16, 6:04 in 3rd Quarter: Two plays after the Deaderick sack, the Patriots complete a key defensive three and out with a Rob Ninkovich strip sack (recovered by Dolphins) on third down. Ninkovich came from the left end spot and shook off two Dolphins blockers to bring down Moore for a six yard loss. The Patriots then go down the field and tie up the game.

3. 3rd and 8 from MIA 30, 10:48 in 3rd Quarter: With the Patriots down 17-3 in the third quarter, quarterback Matt Moore and center Mike Pouncey fumble the snap. A heads up Vince Wilfork sees the ball on the ground and pounces on it for the recovery. With a short field, the Patriots' offense then takes advantage, scoring a touchdown and cutting the Dolphins lead to 7.

2. 1st and 10 from MIA 30, 8:09 in 4th Quarter: Jerod Mayo shoots up the B-gap on a 3rd and 10 with the Patriots holding a 20-17 lead mid-way through the 4th quarter. Mayo's records the sack with a big hit on Matt Moore, and the Patriots' offense then takes over and essentially puts the game away with a touchdown drive to give the Patriots a 10 point lead.

1. 1st and 10 from NE 44, 12:44 in 4th quarter: Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty intercepts a deep throw over the middle intended for Dolphins' receiver Brian Hartline. It's McCourty's first interception of the year, and with the game tied in the fourth, keeps the Dolphins off the field. The Patriots then go down and take their first lead of the game on a Stephen Gostkowski 42 yard field goal.

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