The Patriots kicked a field goal with 1:10 left in the game to go up 23-13, but the Dolphins drove down the field quickly to kick their own field goal, cutting the lead to 23-16. The Dolphins attempted an onside kick, but it was easily recovered by New England's Brandon Lloyd.
The Patriots improved to 9-3 with the win. New England clinched the AFC East with the victory.
Miami fell to 5-7 with the loss. The Dolphins have lost four of their last five games.
The Patriots could never shake the Dolphins during Sunday's AFC East showdown. The Patriots' biggest lead was 17-3 in the second quarter, but a late Ryan Tannehill rushing touchdown cut New England's lead to 17-10 at halftime.
Neither team scored a touchdown in the second half. Both teams had two field goals in the fourth quarter, with no scoring coming in the third quarter.
Each team finished with one turnover.
Dolphins' defense impresses
How good was the Dolphins' defense on Sunday? Brady finished with a 74.8 quarterback rating. It was his worst quarterback rating of the season. He hasn't had a QB rating lower than 95 since Week 6 against the Seattle Seahawks.
One man, especially, was happy with the effort:
Former Patriot wide receiver Troy Brown was impressed with the Dolphins' effort, too:
Credit:Dolphins defense has been bringing the heat on Tom all game.— Troy Brown (@RealTroyBrown80) December 2, 2012
Brady knew how tough the Miami defense was Sunday. His ego, though, didn't expect it at the start of the game:
Patriots take a 7-0 lead....or what Dolphins fans call insurmountable lead.— Tom Bradys' Ego (@TomBradysEgo) December 2, 2012
Brady stops streaking, keeps streaking
Brady threw an interception in the first half Sunday, which broke a streak of 202 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. It was the longest active streak in the NFL. However, Brady kept his touchdown streak alive, throwing a TD pass for the 44th straight game.
Fantasy studs and duds
There weren't too many fantasy studs in Sunday's game, but Wes Welker did have a solid performance as Brady's safety blanket. Welker finished with 12 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted 18 times.
The quarterbacks weren't too impressive. Brady completed just 60 percent of his passes for 238 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Miami's Ryan Tannehill completed just 45 percent of his passes for 186 yards. Tannehill did have a rushing touchdown, however.
The Patriots had a few injuries Sunday. They lost wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) and guard Dan Connolly (back) during the game.
The Dolphins also lost tackle Jake Long in the first quarter. He did not return to the game with a triceps injury.
Did they cover?
The Patriots were a 7-point favorite, so they covered.
The Patriots have a huge test next Monday. They'll host the Houston Texans, the best team in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Dolphins will have to travel to the West Coast to play one of the best teams in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers, on Sunday at 4:05 p.m.