Seven plays were key to Patriots’ win

Aaron Dobson caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
The Boston Globe
Aaron Dobson caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots scored 24 unanswered points to beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-17, Sunday. They were helped largely by seven key plays in the second half.

Here’s a closer look at those plays:

Third quarter

1. Dont’a Hightower recorded a 9-yard sack on a third-and-2, a pivotal third down stop.


2. Following Hightower’s sack, Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 46-yard field goal attempt. The Patriots went five plays on their next drive before Tom Brady hit Aaron Dobson for a 14-yard touchdown.

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3. Logan Ryan got a 10-yard sack on a second-and-7, forcing a Ryan Tannehill fumble. The fumble was recovered by Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich. Three plays later, Brandon Bolden punched in a 2-yard touchdown.

Fourth quarter

4. Marquice Cole intercepted Tannehill with a tip-toe grab on the sideline, getting an assist from a Devin McCourty tip at the top of the quarter.

5. Brady fumbled after being sacked by Dolphins safety Jimmy Wilson on a second-and-7. As the ball was loose, Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon illegally batted it forward in hopes of a Miami recovery, but was penalized for the play. That gave the Patriots a 1st-and-10, which they would go on to convert with a Stevan Ridley touchdown with 7:18 left.

6. On a third-and-3, Tannehill was sacked again, this time by Rob Ninkovich for a loss of 6 yards, setting up another Sturgis field goal attempt with 3:10 remaining.


7. Following Ninkovich’s sack, on 4th-and-9, Chandler Jones blocked Sturgis’ 39-yard field goal attempt, which was recovered by Steve Gregory with 2:51 left. The blocked punt put the game out of the Dolphins’ reach.

Of course, the Patriots weren’t done getting after the quarterback. Dane Fletcher and Chris Jones added sacks on the Dolphins’ final drive before Tannehill was desperate enough to heave a deep pass down field to Mike Wallace. He was promptly intercepted by Patriots backup safety Duron Harmon. But the game was already decided.