Patriots crank it up, get week off
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots are rolling again, right into a playoff bye.
Tom Brady threw two touchdowns, the defense had a season-high seven sacks and New England ended a rare slump by dominating the Dolphins.
Rebounding from two mediocre performances, the Patriots earned the second seed in the AFC and an extra week to savor the win.
Shortly before the game, the Patriots learned Houston had lost, opening the door for one of the two AFC byes.
"Coach (Bill) Belichick just said, 'Look, the only people that can improve our position are us, so, regardless what anyone else does, we have to win,' " Brady said. "And that's what we did."
One of Brady's touchdowns was a 23-yarder to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the previous five games after breaking his left forearm.
Brady moved into second in NFL history with a touchdown pass in 48 consecutive games, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas.