Patriots at Dolphins live updates

Updates from Miami as the Patriots face the Dolphins.

Michael Hoomanawanui made an outstanding touchdown catch in his first game back. (Lynn Sladky / AP photo)
by Zuri Berry,

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- After three straight weeks of stellar comebacks, the Patriots couldn't muster one more amazing finish against the Miami Dolphins.

Tom Brady guided the Patriots to the Dolphins 14-yard line with seven seconds left in the game, before throwing an interception to Miami safety Michael Thomas, sealing a 24-20 loss to their AFC East rival.

Brady finished 34 of 55 for 364 yards and two touchdowns in addition to the pick. He relied heavily upon receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola with Rob Groknkowski out. Edelman caught 13 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Amendola caught 10 passes for 131. Each were pivotal in the fourth quarter as the Patriots mounted their comeback attempt. 
  • Steve Silva, 12/15/2013 1:34:42 PM

    About 25, 000 Patriots fans expected at Sun Life today including these early birds. I'll have live lookins from the biggest tailgates before the game right here

  • Beautiful day so far at Sun Life. But there is a 30% chance of rain. (And yes, I still have to go back and dig out.)

  • Nope. But we expect it. RT @SnowdonBob : @zuriberry Is it raining? I'm about 2 hours west & it's been raining all morning.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 3:06:31 PM
    Here are the details for the game:

    Kickoff: 1 p.m.
    Records: Patriots 10-3; Dolphins 7-6.
    TV, radio: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Westwood One Sports (Tom McCarthy, Rod Woodson).
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 3:07:48 PM
    Projected starting lineups:
    Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

    Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Will Svitek, TE Matthew Mulligan, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, FB James Develin.

    Patriots defense: LE Rob Ninkovich, DT Joe Vellano, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Jamie Collins, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

    Dolphins offense: WR Brian Hartline, LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Nate Garner, C Mike Pouncey, RG John Jerry, RT Tyson Clabo, WR Mike Wallace, WR Rishard Matthews, QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Lamar Miller.

    Dolphins defense: LE Cameron Wake, DT Jared Odrick, DT Paul Soliai, RE Olivier Vernon, LB Philip Wheeler, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB Koa Misi, CB Brent Grimes, CB nolan Carroll, S Chris Clemons, S Reshad Jones.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 3:09:44 PM
    The Miami Dolphins are the only thing in the Patriots' way of clinching the AFC East for the fifth straight year.

    But the Dolphins are no lapdog opponent. Winners of four of their last six games, and coming off an exceptional 34-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the snow, there is plenty to worry about. Considering the Patriots' last outing against Miami, a 27-17 victory that was at the height of the team's offensive struggles, there's incentive to show strength at the top of the division.

    Of course, there are injuries to consider. But there are also some good matchups that the Patriots need to be prepared for. Here's what we'll be watching.

    1. Without Gronk, who will the Patriots turn to? -- By sheer numbers, and considering the games each player has been available, the Patriots have been fairly balanced distributing the football to their playmakers. That may shift even more with tight end Rob Gronkowski out for good after suffering a torn ACL and damaged MCL. Gronkowski had39 receptions in only seven games – 5.6 catches a game. He's the fourth-leading receiver on the team, behind only Julian Edelman (76 receptions), Danny Amendola (41 receptions), and Shane Vereen (40 receptions). Edelman has played in all 13 games, which averages out to 5.8 catches per game. Vereen, despite missing Weeks 2 through 10, is averaging 7.6 catches per game. You can guess for yourself who is going to get the bulk of the targets with Gronk out. As far as tight ends, Michael Hoomanawanui (10 receptions) leads all other eligible receivers for the Patriots with James Develin (4 catches) and Matthew Mulligan (2 catches) trailing.

    2. An improved Tom Brady -- In the Patriots' first meeting with the Dolphins this season, Tom Brady had one of the worst games of his career, throwing for 116 yards on 13 of 22 passing, including a touchdown and an interception. At the time, there was great concern over Brady's right hand, which appeared to be swollen when shown on television (after the game, he not-so-slyly kept it out of view during his press conference). Now, we know there's nothing wrong with Brady's hand after a couple of top-notch performances against the Cleveland Browns (418 yards, 2 touchdowns), Houston Texans (371 yards, 70.7 completion rate), and Denver Broncos (344 yards, 3 touchdowns). His performance has been emblematic of what we know of Brady from the last dozen years. We expect to see more of the good Tom Brady on Sunday.

    3. Josh Boyce's opportunities -- Both wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) and Aaron Dobson (foot) are injured for the Patriots, giving fellow rookie Josh Boyce increased opportunities. He played an integral role in last week's win over the Cleveland Browns, catching three passes for 49 yards, and showed he has the ability to make plays after the catch. He's going to continue to get these opportunities with only five wide receivers available on the roster – Edelman, Amendola, Austin Collie, and Matthew Slater are the others. It would be nice to see the speedster get more catch-and-run opportunities. Maybe the Patriots agree.

    4. Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon vs. Patriots left tackle Nate Solder -- Vernon has seven sacks in his last four games and 11.5 this season. That's tied for the most sacks over the last four games in the NFL. The second-year pro has gotten better as the season has progressed, making it harder and harder for teams to pick which side to provide help on when Cameron Wake (50.5 career sacks) is lurking around the other corner. Solder has had a good season, despite allowing 10 sacks. In his last matchup with Vernon, he didn't allow a sack or hit on the quarterback and only one hurry. But Vernon did have three tackles for losses. And after Solder missed some practice time this week for a concussion, we will assume this matchup is going to be tough for Solder, facing one of the hottest defensive ends in the game.

    5. Dealing with the running game -- The Patriots have dipped to 31st overall against the run, allowing 135.8 yards per game. Dolphins running backs Lamar Miller (567 yards) and Daniel Thomas (384) may play a big part of Sunday's game because teams are starting to zero in on this deficiency. Even the Browns, a putrid rushing team (84.3 yards per game), tried to ram it down the Patriots' throat with an abnormally high 25 carries for 108 yards. The Dolphins are only marginally better (95.8 yards per game) than the Browns, but the threat remains the same. Can the Patriots stop the run? That is their problem.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 3:27:52 PM

    It takes a lot of people to corral these large American flags. They're prepping this one for today's game at Sun Life Stadium.

  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 3:47:36 PM
    Nate Solder and Chris Barker going through the motions here on the field under the watchful eye of team trainer Harold Nash and Dr. Thomas Gill.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 3:49:49 PM
    What I wrote in my weekly picks on the Patriots-Dolphins game:

    Patriots (-2.5) at Dolphins (+2.5) -- Despite a good pass rush and respectable offense, the Dolphins are no match for a Patriots team that has somehow mastered the art of the second-half comeback. And this time around, Tom Brady's hand won't be a concern either.
    My pick: Patriots
  • Steve Silva, 12/15/2013 3:51:48 PM

    Massive Patriots tailgating scene at Sun Life

  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 4:04:48 PM
    Marcus Cannon out on the field working out. I assume he's ready to rock and roll today.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 4:21:44 PM
    Michael Hoomanawanui is out on the field warming up. We can assume he's playing as well.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 4:24:11 PM
    A.J. Francis, now with the Dolphins, shakes hands with his old teammates on the field.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 4:30:01 PM
    Patriots inactives:
    Chris Barker
    Steve Beauharnais
    Aaron Dobson
    Michael Buchanan
    Jake Bequette
    Kenbrell Thompkins
    DJ Williams
  • Steve Silva, 12/15/2013 4:37:14 PM

    Fish head shots. File under: The ultimate UMass tailgate

  • Steve Silva, 12/15/2013 4:37:36 PM

    Patriot Pat tending the pregame bar outside Sun Life

  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 4:39:11 PM
    Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui will be active for the Patriots on Sunday when they face the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.

    It will be Hoomanawanui's first game back since suffering a knee injury in Week 11 against the Carolina Panthers.

    Also active for the Patriots is offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury.

    Offensive lineman Chris Barker, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, defensive ends Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan, and tight end D.J. Williams were all announced as inactive for the team. They are healthy scratches.

    Wide receivers Aaron Dobson (foot) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) had been downgraded to out on Saturday evening.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 4:41:13 PM
    Dolphins inactives:
    David Arkin
    DJ Campbell
    Justin Rogers
    Pat Devlin
    AJ Francis
    Jamar Taylor
    Danny Watkins
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 5:42:07 PM
    We're about 20 minutes away from kickoff.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 5:48:31 PM

    Miami Dolphins cheerleaders dancing to "Blurred Lines." Press box view.

  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 5:50:20 PM
    So while we're waiting for this game to get started, let's all just admit we're waiting to see how long it takes for the Patriots to get on the board.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 5:50:40 PM
    As I've noted before, the Patriots have been outscored 47-7 in the first half of the last three games.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 5:50:53 PM
    And the Patriots take the field together.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 5:51:06 PM
    Game time temperature is 84 degrees.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 5:55:38 PM
    Dolphins introductions are finally over. I just realized how long it takes to introduce your team when its' one by one. More than a minute.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 5:59:13 PM

    Game time.

  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:00:24 PM
    Patriots win the coin toss and have deferred.
  • Pats win toss. Defer. Game over
  • Five of five Miami Herald writers pick the Dolphins to win today . . . Don't they know?
  • Miami native Vince Wilfork here with team, right leg still in walking boot
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:02:46 PM
    And we have kickoff.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:03:02 PM
    1st and 10 at the 20 for the Dolphins after the touchback.
  • Steve Silva, 12/15/2013 6:04:20 PM
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:04:36 PM
    Dolphins start with two runs. It's the game plan we already knew about.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:06:22 PM
    A Ryan Tannehill pass to Rishard Matthews converts a 3rd and 5 attempt.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:07:31 PM
    Good coverage from Jamie Collins on Michael Egnew.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:10:24 PM
    11:14 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Dolphins 0 -- Logan Ryan caused enough disruption on Rishard Matthew's route to keep the Dolphins wide receiver from connecting with Ryan Tannehill on a 3rd and 6 at Miami's 48. The Dolphins tried to show balance on the first series, running four times and passing four times.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:11:05 PM
    LeGarrette Blount gets the start. First run goes for 11. Bam.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:11:41 PM
    Blount's second reception of the year goes for 6 yards.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:12:09 PM
    Michael Hoomanawanui in at tight end for the first series for the Patriots.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:14:53 PM
    James Develin gets a tough first down on that 3rd and 2 ... He's a bruiser.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:17:07 PM
    Brady pass to Edelman for a first down. Follows up with a pass to Boyce to get in the red zone.
  • Zuri Berry 12/15/2013 6:18:22 PM
    Blount with a 2-yard run on 3rd and 1. Now 1st and goal at the 10.
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