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PLAYOFFS
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              === Dolphins edge Pats, keep playoff hopes alive ===
 
 Miami,  FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Michael Thomas twice thwarted the New England
 Patriots' bid for a fourth consecutive come-from-behind win.
 
 The  Miami  safety broke up a  would-be touchdown catch before picking off New
 England  quarterback Tom  Brady in  the end  zone with  two seconds  remaining
 to  seal a  24-20 win at Sun  Life Stadium that currently puts the Dolphins in
 possession of the final playoff spot in the AFC.
 
 Ryan  Tannehill threw three touchdown passes for Miami (8-6), the last erasing
 a  20-17 deficit with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter. Tannehill finished with
 312  yards  on 25-of-37 efficiency  in the  Dolphins' third straight win. They
 moved  a  half-game ahead of  Baltimore in the battle  for the sixth seed. The
 Ravens visit Detroit on Monday night.
 
 "I liked the way the guys contributed in all three phases, made plays in order
 to  get the outcome that we got. It wasn't one player or one unit," said Miami
 coach Joe Philbin.
 
 Brady  completed  34-of-55 passes  for 364  yards and  two touchdowns, but the
 Patriots  (10-4) squandered  an opportunity to clinch their fifth straight AFC
 East title. New England can still secure a playoff spot with a Ravens loss.
 
 The  Patriots also missed out on a chance to seize control of the conference's
 top seed.
 
 Miami,  which  still has a  shot at  the AFC East  crown, totaled 17 points on
 three consecutive possessions after New England had built  a 10-0 lead late in
 the second quarter, with a 2-yard TD grab by Daniel Thomas to begin the fourth
 quarter giving the Dolphins the lead.
 
 The  next  Patriots drive comprised  of 15 plays, but  stalled at the Miami 5.
 Stephen  Gostkowski kicked a 23-yard field goal to close the gap to 17-13 with
 7:45 to play.
 
 After  Miami went  three-and-out, the Brady-led New England offense covered 73
 yards in six plays and Julian Edelman's 24-yard TD catch put the visitors back
 on top with 4:07 remaining. Edelman made the grab as he came across the middle
 and he zig-zagged his way to the end zone.
 
 Gostkowski then made a critical error, booting the kickoff out of bounds.
 
 The  Dolphins  started at their  own 40-yard line and  Charles Clay made a big
 play on fourth down to keep the drive alive. The tight end's lone reception of
 six yards moved the chains on 4th-and-5 from the Miami 45.
 
 A  few plays later, Tannehill hit Rishard Matthews along the left sideline for
 a  24-yard  gain to the  New England 14.  The Miami quarterback then connected
 with Marcus Thigpen for the go-ahead score.
 
 Brady  nearly  orchestrated another rally.  He did  find Danny Amendola for 12
 yards on 4th-and-8 from the New England 33. Amendola managed to make the catch
 despite absorbing a jarring hit.
 
 The wide receiver, however, was not able to hold onto a potential game-winning
 touchdown  grab later in  the drive as Michael Thomas broke up the pass before
 hauling in Brady's intended throw to Austin Collie.
 
 New  England had  tied an  NFL record  with three  straight wins  in which  it
 trailed by at least 10 points in the second half.
 
 "We  had plenty of  chances all day," Brady said. "We make some good plays and
 then we make plenty of (expletive) plays."
 
 The  Patriots  methodically marched  down the field  on their first possession
 with  a  mix of  LeGarrette Blount  runs (25 yards)  and completions mostly to
 Edelman  (three  for 34  yards). They  converted a  trio of 3rd-and-shorts and
 chewed up seven-plus minutes of the clock on the 16-play sequence.
 
 New  England, however, had to settle for a Gostkowski 22-yard field goal after
 Josh Boyce dropped a third-down pass in the end zone.
 
 The  Dolphins looked to get on the board late in the second quarter, lining up
 for  a  field-goal attempt,  but they  botched the kick.  The ball was snapped
 directly  into  the  face  of  the holder  Brandon  Fields,  who  was  totally
 unprepared on the play.
 
 The  ensuing New  England drive began with a 30-yard catch-and-run by Amendola
 and  ended with Michael Hoomanawanui's one-handed grab for a 13-yard touchdown
 with 1:38 remaining in the second.
 
 Miami  was able to  counter before halftime as Tannehill zipped a pass to Mike
 Wallace, who got inside position on Marquice Cole and sprinted 39 yards to the
 end zone.
 
 With  an opportunity to stretch the lead, Gostkowski missed a 48-yard try wide
 left to open the second half.
 
 There was no mishap involving the snap a second time as Caleb Sturgis nailed a
 32-yard  field  goal on the next  drive to knot  the score at 10-all with 7:31
 left in the third quarter.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 The  Dolphins snapped  a seven-game losing streak to New England ... Tannehill
 (3,627)  joined  Dan Marino  and Chad  Pennington as the  only QBs in Dolphins
 history  to  reach 3,500  yards passing  in a season  ... Brady surpassed John
 Elway  (4,123)  for fifth  place on  the NFL's  all-time completions list with
 4,150  ... Gostkowski  has now made 23 straight fourth-quarter field goals ...
 The  Patriots had not allowed any fourth-quarter points in their previous five
 games  against AFC  East opponents ... Wallace caught six passes for 105 yards
 ...  Edelman  made 13  grabs for  139 yards, while  Amendola finished with 131
 yards  on  10 receptions  ... Patriots  offensive tackle  Nate Solder left the
 game with a head injury and did not return.
 
 
 
 
 12/15 22:06:28 ET

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