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Pats down Dolphins, 23-16, win AFC East title
Wes Welker caught 12 passes, including a 7-yard touchdown toss from Tom Brady, and visiting New England won its sixth straight game to clinch the AFC East title for the fourth straight season.
The NFL's highest-scoring team never really got its high-octane offense in gear, but it also never trailed in the game. Stevan Ridley (19 carries, 71 yards) opened the scoring on a 2-yard run on the Patriots' first possession, and New England used a seven-minute, 16-play drive in the fourth quarter that was capped by Stephen Gostkowski's third field goal to put the game out of reach.
Brady was 24-of-40 for 238 yards, most of which went to Welker. The wideout finished with 103 yards receiving and tied Jerry Rice's NFL record of 17 games with double-digit catches. Brady surpassed Joe Montana for the most division titles (10) by a quarterback.
Welker dropped a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and the Patriots had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Gostkowski to take a 20-10 lead. Miami answered on its next drive with a 33-yard kick by Dan Carpenter with 8:50 to play, cutting the deficit to 20-13 before the Patriots' ensuing time-consuming drive sealed things.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill scored on a 2-yard run to get Miami within 17-10 before halftime. He finished 13-of-29 for 186 yards.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Brady now has the longest active streak of passing for at least one touchdown in a game. He has thrown a scoring pass in 44 consecutive games. Drew Brees' record streak of 54 games came to an end on Thursday. … Brady threw an interception in the first half, his first since Week 6. … Miami LT Jake Long suffered a torn triceps in the first half and is done for the season. …Reggie Bush carried 15 times for 64 yards for the Dolphins.
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