The Patriots are champions of the AFC East again.
New England, even with an offense that struggled at times, outmuscled the Dolphins to claim its fourth straight division crown.
Up just seven points in the final quarter, Tom Brady led a drive of 7 minutes, 17 seconds that ended in a field goal and a 10-point lead with just 70 seconds to play. That was too much for the out-of-timeouts Dolphins to overcome.
Look back on the game as it played out:
4:09 p.m.: Brandon Lloyd secured the Dolphins’ onside kick.
4:06 p.m.: The Dolphins kicked a 42-yard field goal. With 31 seconds left, they will hope for a converted onside kick and another touchdown drive. Patriots 23, Dolphins 16
4:03 p.m.: The Patriots’ kickoff went out the back of the end zone to give the Dolphins the ball at the 20.
4:00 p.m.: New England drove down the field for a time-consuming drive that ended in a Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a 10-point lead with 1:10 to play. Patriots 23, Dolphins 13
3:57 p.m.: At the 2-minute warning, the Patriots have a third-and-goal inside the Dolphins’ 5.
3:52 p.m.: The Patriots have driven deep into Dolphins territory in an attempt to score some insurance points.
3:43 p.m.: Julian Edelman has left the game with a foot injury.
3:41 p.m.: Miami answered a New England field goal with a 33-yeard field goal of its own. The drive was powered by a conversion on fourth-and-1 deep in the New England zone. Patriots 20, Dolphins 13
3:29 p.m.: Stephen Gostkowski knocked in a 32-yard field goal to build the lead for New England. The score was a disappointment, however, after a long Aaron Hernandez reception set up the Patriots with a first-and-goal from the 2. New England couldn’t reach the end zone. Patriots 20, Dolphins 10
3:23 p.m.: The third quarter ends with no scoring. The Patriots have collected a couple of first downs, however, and have taken the ball into Dolphins territory.
3:16 p.m.: The punting seesaw continued with the Dolphins offense unable to move the ball. Miami’s punt went into the end zone and the Patriots took over at their 20-yard line.
3:11 p.m.: The Patriots offense was listless after the Dolphins’ punt. They punted after their second three-and-out of the day. The Dolphins took over at the New England 49.
3:04 p.m.: The Dolphins punted back to the Patriots, eschewing a chance to go for it on fourth-and-short from midfield. Miami pinned the Patriots down at their own 2 on the punt.
2:58 p.m.: The Patriots’ next drive stalls at midfield as Cameron Wake sacked Tom Brady on third down. Zoltan Mesko’s punt went into the end zone, giving the ball to the Dolphins on the 20.
2:52 p.m.: The Patriots forced another punt by the Dolphins on their first drive of the second half. New England will take over at its 30.
2:47 p.m.: The Patriots went three-and-out on the first drive of the second half. It was just their 12th three-and-out of the season. The Dolphins will take over at their own 22.
2:31 p.m.: The Patriots took a knee to end the first half. They will receive the ball to start the second half. Halftime.
2:27 p.m.: Miami closed a 76-yard drive late in the first half with a touchdown by Ryan Tannehill to pull within seven points. Patriots 17, Dolphins 10
2:11 p.m.: Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 43-yard field goal attempt to turn a Dolphins turnover into three points for the Patriots. Patriots 17, Dolphins 3
2:08 p.m.: Another Dolphins turnover as Trevor Scott forced a fumbled by Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill and Vince Wilfork recovered it at the Miami 25-yard line.
2:06 p.m.: After four Patriots drives, Wes Welker has nine catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.
2:01 p.m.: New England closed a long drive with a Wes Welker 7-yard touchdown catch-and-run to extend its lead in the second quarter. The score was powered by a roughing the kicker penalty that negated what would have been a Patriots three-and-out. Patriots 14, Dolphins 3
1:52 p.m.: Injury notes from both teams: Dolphins left tackle Jake Long left with a triceps injury. His return was questionable. Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly left with a back injury, and also was called questionable to return.
1:51 p.m.: The Patriots experienced a rare three-and-out on their first drive of the second quarter. But the Dolphins were flagged for roughing the kicker on Zoltan Mesko’s punt, which gave the Patriots 15 yards and a new set of downs.
1:45 p.m.: Miami’s Dan Carpenter made a 44-yard field goal to turn the New England turnover into points for the Dolphins. Patriots 7, Dolphins 3
1:36 p.m.: Reshad Jones picked off Tom Brady and the Dolphins took over at the New England 34-yard line. That ended Brady’s streak of 202 straight passes without an interception. Jones appeared to run the pick back for a touchdown, but a penalty negated the score.
1:31 p.m.: The Dolphins offense stalled again on their third drive. Their punt buried the Patriots inside their own 5-yard line, however.
1:25 p.m.: Stephen Gostkowski pushed a 49-yard field goal attempt wide right to end the Patriots’ second drive.
1:16 p.m.: The Dolphins went three-and-out for the second straight drive. Julian Edelman returned the punt 9 yards for the Patriots to their own 26-yard line.
1:09 p.m.: Stevan Ridley rushed for a 2-yard touchdown to open the scoring and give the Patriots the opening score of the game. Patriots 7, Dolphins 0
1:06 p.m.: The Patriots get the ball at the Dolphins’ 12 after a botched punt attempt following a Dolphins three-and-out on their first possession.
1:02 p.m.: The Patriots won the toss and deferred. Miami will receive the opening kick.
12:45 p.m.: This is the first of two games between these teams, who meet again in Foxborough on Dec. 30 in the final week of the regular season. New England’s team bus arrived at Sun Life Stadium shortly after 10 a.m. Julian Edelman (concussion) and Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) are both here, and Edelman was warming up on the field. Both players are active for today’s game.
New England’s inactives were Chandler Jones, Rob Gronkowski, Logan Mankins, Mitch Petrus, Visanthe Shiancoe, James Develon, and Derrick Martin.
One thing to watch out for this afternoon are some strong winds that could be a factor in the kicking and passing games.
The Patriots have won the last four meetings between these teams, though Miami’s last three wins over the Patriots have come in December.