New England Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan strips the ball from Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill during the second half of Sunday’s game in Foxborough, Mass.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — One solid quarter after a dismal first half was all the New England Patriots needed to beat the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots shook off another mediocre performance by Tom Brady and played strong defense in the second half to beat the Dolphins 27-17 on Sunday.
Trailing 17-3 after gaining just 59 yards in the opening half, the Patriots quickly turned the game around in the third quarter with two touchdowns in a span of seven plays.
The Patriots (6-2) outscored the Dolphins (3-4) in the third quarter 17-0. Miami lost its fourth straight game.
Brady completed 13 of 22 passes, only the fifth time this season he went over 50 percent, but threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Dobson with 6:32 gone in the third quarter that began the comeback.
He threw for 76 of his 116 yards in the third quarter when the team scored 17 points. In their first seven games, the Patriots were outscored 44-9 in that period.
New England got the ball for the second time in the third quarter after Caleb Sturgis’ 46-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright.
Stevan Ridley rushed 23 yards to the Miami 41, a 23-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski moved the ball to the 18 and Brandon Bolden ran 4 yards. Then Brady threw his touchdown pass to Dobson, cutting the deficit to 17-10.
The Patriots regained possession two plays after the kickoff when Logan Ryan sacked Tannehill, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Rob Ninkovich at the Miami 13. It was one of six sacks against Tannehill, who began the game having been sacked an NFL-high 26 times.
Three plays later, Bolden scored on a 2-yard run. Stephen Gostkowski’s extra point tied it at 17 with 6:42 left in the quarter.
New England took the lead for good when Gostkowski’s 48-yard field goal made it 20-17 with 8 seconds left in the third period.
The Patriots appeared to score a touchdown on the drive when Brady hit Gronkowski for a 30-yard completion into the end zone. But it was nullified by a holding penalty against left tackle Nate Solder.
Then Brady led the Patriots on their longest drive of the game, 13 plays covering 82 yards and ending with Ridley’s 3-yard touchdown run with 7:14 left to play.
The outlook was much bleaker in the first half when the Patriots struggled to stop the Dolphins running game and couldn’t generate a passing attack.
Miami rushed for 103 yards in the half, more than it picked up in four of its six games this season. And Brady was held to six completions on eight attempts for just 25 yards.
Brady’s first pass of the game was intercepted by Dimitri Patterson and returned 2 yards to the Patriots 40. That set up an 11-play drive capped by Tannehill’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson. But Gibson left the game later in the first quarter with a knee injury and didn’t return.
Tannehill, who threw a career-high three touchdown passes a week earlier in a 23-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills, made it 14-0 on a 5-yard scoring pass to Daniel Thomas about five minutes into the second quarter.
The Patriots scored with 3:43 left in the half on Gostkowski’s 34-yard field goal, but Sturgis connected on a 52-yard field goal for the Dolphins 30 seconds before intermission.
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