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Patriots clinch homefield advantage, crush Dolphins 35-14

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The Patriots were in control from the opening whistle as they earned the #1 seed.

The New England Patriots came out of halftime against the Miami Dolphins with a 20-7 lead. The Patriots kicked off to the Dolphins and did not look like the team with the lead.

The Dolphins led a 12-play, 6:21 drive for 75 yards and the Patriots couldn’t make a tackle. The Dolphins used a combination of crossing patterns and checkdowns to waltz down the field, capping it off with a 25-yard touchdown pass to WR Kenny Stills.

The Patriots suffered a major breakdown in coverage and appeared to play at a similarly poor level to their two-minute drill prior to the half. Momentum appeared to swing towards the Dolphins as they scored on two straight 75-yard touchdown drives.

Then Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, and Michael Floyd responded.

Brady found Edelman for a 77-yard touchdown, while Floyd laid down the best block of the day to put the Patriots back up 27-14.

The two sides exchanged punts and three-and-outs, before the Dolphins drove down the field to the Patriots 9-yard line. Devin McCourty made his claim for First Team All Pro free safety with an excellent forced fumble, which Shea McClellin recovered and returned back to the Dolphins 18-yard line.

Six plays later and RB LeGarrette Blount dove into the end zone for a 1-yard score, for his league-leading 18th rushing touchdown of the season. Blount tied 2011 TE Rob Gronkowski for the second most touchdowns in a Patriots single season. Brady found Edelman for a two-point conversion and a 35-14 lead.

The Patriots defense forced another punt and it was Human Victory Cigar time for the rest of the game as QB Jimmy Garoppolo entered the game to hand the ball off to Blount. The Patriots won with a final score of 35-14.

Brady finished the day 25 of 33 for 276 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a passer rating of 130.4. Brady finished with an NFL-record 28:2 TD:INT ratio and also passed Dolphins QB Dan Marino for the 4th most passing yards in NFL history. WR Julian Edelman added a career-high 151 receiving yards and a touchdown and set a career-high in single season receiving yards and yards from scrimmage.

The Patriots only threw two interceptions all season, which is a new NFL record.

On defense, the Patriots failed to sack Dolphins QB Matt Moore, but they hit him 5 times- twice by Trey Flowers- picked him off once, and knocked down three more passes. The Patriots challenged Moore to march down the field with only low crossers and Miami failed to do so on a regular basis.

The Patriots are now the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs with a 14-2 record and homefield advantage throughout the postseason. The Patriots are going to root for the Oakland Raiders to defeat the Denver Broncos in the afternoon games to clinch the other bye week and force the Kansas City Chiefs to play during wild card weekend.

New England is off next week. Thanks for a great 2016 regular season.