Dolphins somehow make Tom Brady look mortal
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Tom Brady was a mere mortal in Miami.
The five-time Super Bowl champion wins just about everywhere, just about every week. But games at Miami have been a struggle more times than not for the longtime New England star, and Monday night was yet another entry on that list. Brady was intercepted twice, probably should have had at least one other pass picked off, and the Patriots lost to the Dolphins 27-20 -- denying New England a chance to clinch the AFC East.
Brady finished 24 of 43 for 233 yards and a touchdown. He's now 7-9 in his career when visiting the Dolphins, with a passer rating of under 90 in 10 of those 16 games.
His rating Monday: 59.5, his lowest in a regular-season game since 2013.
"We've had a lot of good nights this year," Brady said. "And this was a bad night."
It wasn't all on him, not by a long shot.
The Patriots couldn't run the ball whatsoever, finishing with 10 yards on 25 carries -- and that came after running for at least 191 yards in each of their last two games. New England had given up an average of 11.9 points in its last eight games; it gave up 27 to the Dolphins. And the Patriots, in the stat that might be most surprising, were a staggering 0 for 11 on their third-down chances.
The last time they were 0-for-anything on third downs? 1991, when Phoenix -- that's what the Cardinals were called then -- beat the Patriots.
"That was pretty bad," Brady said. "Can't get any worse than that."
The result was an end to the Patriots' 14-game road winning streak, hardly a great springboard into what's a short week before a showdown in Pittsburgh on Sunday that will likely go a long way toward deciding the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
"They did a good job tonight," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of the Dolphins, before the rest of his postgame availability became mostly a collage of short, mumbled answers. "They obviously did a better job than we did. We just weren't really good enough in any area, consistent enough in any area to win the game. We all need to do a better job and hopefully we'll be able to do that. This wasn't good enough tonight, across the board."
Brady didn't have his first completion until the second quarter, after missing on his first four throws -- one of which was intercepted. The Dolphins went after him all night, never letting him get into rhythm. With no running game and no Rob Gronkowski, serving a one-game suspension over an unnecessary hit he doled out last week, the Patriots needed Brady to be exceptional.
"I've got to throw the ball better," Brady said. "That's where it starts."
The Patriots being the Patriots, they nearly pulled off a comeback from a 27-10 third-quarter deficit anyway. Brady connected with James White for a 3-yard scoring throw early in the fourth, and the Patriots got to the Miami 1 in the final moments. But a pair of penalties pushed them back to the 16, and Stephen Gostowski's 33-yard field goal with 53 seconds left got New England within a touchdown.
That left an onside kick to decide matters. The low-percentage play didn't work, and Belichick was asked afterward what happened.
"They recovered it," Belichick said, then shrugging.
On a night where the Patriots had few answers, at least that one was succinct.
"I wish we played better," Brady said. "But we didn't."