Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/24/11
The New England Patriots overcame a 17-point deficit in Week 16 to get a 27-24 win over the Miami Dolphins, clenching a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. The Dolphins dominated the first half, getting two touchdowns and a field goal, but tapered off in the second half as the Patriots came back and scored three touchdowns and two field goals. The Dolphins got a third touchdown with a minute and forty-eight seconds left in the game, but couldn’t manage to fill the three-point gap between them and New England before the clock ran out.

Tom Brady threw 27 for 46 for a total of 304 yards and one touchdown. (He also rushed nine times for 17 yards and two touchdowns.) Matt Moore threw 17 for 33 for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Reggie Bush led the game in rushing yards with 22 carries for 113 yards, accounting for 98% of Miami’s net rushing yards. New England had seven more rushing yards, however, splitting them up mostly between Steven Ridley and Danny Woodhead. Their passing game was a bit more impressive with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Deon Branch, Aaron Hernandez, and Chad Ochocinco gaining 181 receiving yards. Brandon Marshall, however, led the game in receiving yards with seven receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown. (That’s almost half of Miami’s passing game.)

The third quarter was the turning point of the game. Miami rolled over New England in the first two quarters, leading many to believe it would be their game. The Patriots turned the tables in the second half, however, getting two touchdowns and a field goal in the third quarter. Once they got some momentum going, they didn’t let up until the game was over.

With their twelfth win of the season, the Patriots clench a first-round bye in the playoffs and are one win closer to a first seeding. At this rate, the Pats will be a scary team to face in the postseason.

Though the Dolphins weren’t in the playoffs hunt anymore, they still had their reputation to maintain. 2011 has very much been a rebuilding year for Miami with bigs ups and big downs. Matt Moore looks like he could take the team far in the future and Reggie Bush looks as good as he did years ago (if not better). I foresee 2012 being a good year for the Dolphins.
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