Playing just their second division game of the season, the Patriots (9-2) took care of business for a 35-17 win over the Dolphins (4-7) Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
The victory brought New England's winning streak to seven games and showed yet again that the rest of the teams in the AFC East – against whom Bill Belichick's squad will play four of its final five games of the regular season – still have a long way to go to catch up to the defending Super Bowl champions.
Sunday's game was sloppy at times, chippy at others and saw a handful of Patriots leave with injuries. But it was also another performance that included complementary contributions from all three phases for a New England team picking up steam heading toward the postseason.
The Boston Globe declares that once again the AFC East race is "embarrassing." The Globe *notes that this Patriots win came pretty much as expected. The *Globe observes that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski had the recipe to beat the Dolphins. After his two-touchdown effort, Gronkowski said he wasn't allowed to talk about touchdown celebrations. The Globe wonders why New England seems to play better on the road this season. The Globe offers up some takeaways from the Patriots latest at times "sloppy" win. The Globe Patriots notebook notes that injuries did pile up a bit in the win, including Nate Ebner limping off after a successful fake punt. The Globe *breaks down Dion Lewis and the rushing attack balancing out the Patriots offense in the victory over Miami. The *Globe notes that former Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo made a brief, impressive debut for the 49ers on Sunday.
The Boston Herald says the Patriots refused to be bullied by the Dolphins in Foxborough. The Herald looks at the New England pass rush breaking out for seven sacks against Miami. Herald *columnist Ron Borges writes that Sunday's chippy win will test New England's "next man up" mantra down the stretch this season. The *Herald notes that Gronkowski set a Patriots record for most multiple-TD games. Herald *columnist Steve Buckley writes about the fact that for the 17th straight season the Patriots have brought their fans a winning record. The *Herald wondered if Brady should have been pulled from the win given the hits the Dolphins were delivering, but Belichick didn't take to kindly to the idea, offering up a "terse" response.
The Providence Journal *writes that even when things went wrong again Miami, there was never really any doubt in the Patriots win. The Pro Jo writes about Lewis shaking and baking his way to his first career 100-yard rushing performance. The Pro Jo *has Stephon Gilmore talking about getting past his early-season struggles, including a key interception in Sunday's win over Miami.
ESPNBoston.com looks at Eric Lee, signed last week off the Bills practice squad, contributing 25 snaps for the Patriots in an NFL debut that included a sack. ESPNBoston.com passes along Brady admitting he's sore, but that none of Miami's hits on Sunday crossed the line of clean play. ESPNBoston.com says that Ebner and Trey Flowers top the Patriots list of injury concerns after the win. ESPNBoston.com looks at the "spark of energy" Lewis brought with his 112 rushing yards. ESPNBoston.com notes that Belichick scoffed at the idea of pulling Brady early from the win, something New England had done each of the previous two weeks.
ESPN notes that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is already talking about the big upcoming battle between the Patriots and Steelers.
WEEI.com writes that the Dolphins tried to bring the Patriots down to their level on Sunday and failed miserably. WEEI.com recaps New England's injuries from Sunday's action. WEEI.com notes Miami's Ndamukong Suh saying the Patriots wanted to run away from him. WEEI.com also has Gronkowski laughingly admitting that Belichick won't let his team talk about TD celebrations. WEEI.com passes along Brady telling the radio station's morning show that he doesn't think the physicality of the NFL is going down, in fact he thinks players deal with a "100 percent injury rate" over the course of a season. WEEI.com also has Brady admitting he's sore but that he'll be ready to go next weekend in Buffalo.
NBCSports.com says that the Dolphins "tough-guy act" work against them, not the Patriots. NBCSports.com writes that Belichick "contorted his face" before shooting down the idea of pulling Brady from the game in the fourth quarter. NBCSports.com offers up the best and worst from the New England win. NBCSports.com notes the pass rush came to life for the Patriots.
The Washington Post says the Patriots are now playing just as well as everyone thought they would.
*USA Today *writes that the Patriots showed off late-season form by dismantling the Dolphins.
CBSBoston.com passes along an NFLN report that Ebner is believed to have suffered a season-ending knee injury.
MassLive.com says the Patriots injuries may be the biggest obstacle to a Super Bowl LII run at this point.