BOSTON (CBS) – Stick with the CBSBostonsports.com LIVE blog throughout the Patriots-Dolphins game for all the updates!
1st Quarter, 6:40 – Patriots 7-0: The Patriots turn that interception into seven points after just two plays on offense.
With Aaron Hernandez getting a lot of attention, Brady went to Gronkowski for 19 yards on first down to set up a 1st and Goal. Gronk got a huge ovation from the crowd for the catch.
Just one play later, with the defense focused on Gronk and Hernandez, Brady found a wide open Wes Welker for the score.
Not only does it give the Patriots that early lead they wanted, but Brady becomes the first player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass in all 16 games for three straight seasons.
1st Quarter, 7:15 – 0-0: Rob Ninkovich applied some pressure on Tannehill, who was forced to make a quick pass that was picked off by safety Steve Gregory.
It’s the 40th takeaway by the Patriots defense this season, and the offense takes over at Miami 28.
1st Quarter, 8:27 – 0-0: The Patriots offense doesn’t get much going, aside from Brady and Hernandez picking up a first down with a nine-yard connection on 3rd and 2.
Hernandez has gotten plenty of work already, with three receptions for 30 yards and five targets. Brady has yet to go Gronkowski’s way, who has been on the field for six of the first 14 snaps according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss.
This drive ended with a Mesko punt, and the Dolphins will take over at their own eight-yard line.
PS: Broncos already have a 7-0 lead over the Chiefs.
1st Quarter, 11:07 – 0-0: The Patriots defense had a solid stance on the Dolphin’s first possession, forcing a quick three-and-out.
Jerod Mayo made a nice play on 2nd and 9, deflecting Ryan Tannehill’s pass over the middle. Then on third down, rookie Justin Francis got to the Tannehill for the sack and the Dolphins were forced to punt.
4:30pm: The Patriots said this week they wanted to get off to a fast start against the Dolphins, something they hadn’t done the last two weeks.
Well, those slow starts continued. After picking up three first downs, the Patriots went for it on 4th and 6 rather than attempt 40+ yard field goal into the wind. Brady couldn’t hook up with Wes Welker, so the Dolphins will take over at their own 24-yard line.
4:29pm: Patriots will start with the ball after the Dolphins won the toss and deferred.
Rob Gronkowski was out there to start the game, so it looks like he’ll see plenty of action — at least for now.
The Patriots gained 14 yards on their first play, a pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez. There isn’t a happier person in New England to see Gronk back out there than Hernandez. Wes Welker is probably a close second.
4:15pm: While there is plenty talk about the playoffs today, it’s also a day for Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti.
The voices of the Patriots for nearly four decades, Gil and Gino were honored on the field prior to the game, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced that Santos will be the 2013 inductee into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Cappelletti retired from his color commentary duties following the Super Bowl last year, and Santos will retire after this season.
The two will be reunited in the booth for the first drive of today’s game.
4:00pm: It’s official. The Colts have beaten the Texans 28-16 to give the Patriots a shot at a first-round bye. The Patriots have a shot at the number-one overall seed if they beat the Dolphins and the Broncos lose to the Chiefs, however unlikely that seems.
3:47pm: It’s the final weekend of the NFL’s regular season, but there is still plenty to be sorted out when it comes to the playoff picture.
That includes the New England Patriots, who host the Miami Dolphins at a chilly and formerly snow-filled Gillette Stadium.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is active for Sunday’s finale after missing the last five games with a broken forearm. There have been reports that Gronk will play in a limited role, knocking off the rust before the playoffs start, but there is also a report saying the Patriots may go with their initial plan to keep him sidelined until the postseason.
WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid reported seeing Gronkowski is on the field for warm ups with a protective cast visible on his left forearm. It goes from his wrist to just below his elbow. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Scott Zolak the decision of if — or how much — Gronkowski plays will likely come down to the final minutes prior the game.
A lot of that might depend on what happens with in the Houston-Indianapolis game. The Colts currently lead the Texans 28-16 in the 4th quarter, which would be a huge help to the Patriots. As everyone knows, if Indy holds on and the Patriots beat the Dolphins then New England will get next weekend off and a home game in two weeks. If the Patriots can get that week off, expect to see a lot of Gronkowski as the game becomes a must-win.
The first-round bye appears to be within their reach as long as New England can take care of business this afternoon. All week, the Patriots have said their focus is winning this game, and cleaning up their sloppy play of the last two weeks, but now it looks like they’ll also have a chance to earn a break in the process.
Tune in to Patriots-Dolphins on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. After the game, tune in to three hours of postgame coverage on the Hub, and Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38!
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