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Dolphins fall to Patriots; prepare for playoffs

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The New England Patriots will not be traveling for the 2017 NFL playoffs. Thanks to their 35-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, the Patriots will host any playoff game in which they are involved.

Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady showed why he earned that moniker. He completed 25 of 33 passes to seven different receivers for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

Despite the fact New England had the Eastern Division of the AFC wrapped up, the Patriots still needed the victory to guarantee home field advantage. They treated it like a playoff game.

Another incentive was the fact New England had lost their last three visits to Miami. Brady made sure that would not happen again.

“This has always been a challenging place for us, for one reason or another,” he said. “But we just found a way to be a good football team.”

The final score does not accurately reveal that Miami was in the game until late in the fourth quarter. After falling behind 20-0, Miami came back on two touchdown passes to from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry.

Even after Brady hooked up with Julian Edelman for a rally-killing 77-yard catch and run touchdown, Miami again came back. With the Dolphins in the red zone attempting to get back within one score, Damien Williams was stripped after a catch at the 13 yard-line.

After a 69-yard return by Shea McClellin set up the Patriots, LeGarrette Blount put the game out of reach with a one-yard plunge. The entire sequence of events perfectly describes the Patriots.

As the GEICO commercial says, “that’s what they do.” The victory gave the Patriots a perfect 8-0 record on the road this season.

There is a bright side for the Dolphins. They took on a New England team that was not holding anything back and stayed with them for the most part.

Moore shows that he can make plays against a championship team as he fills in for Ryan Tannehill. He threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

This game was a good indicator that Miami has an opportunity to perform well in the playoffs. While the Pittsburgh Steelers, next week’s first-round opponent, is a battle-tested team, they are not the Patriots.

Depending on weather conditions in Pittsburgh, Moore should be able to make some throws and Jay Ajayi will have opportunities to run. The Steelers are a fitting opponent. Miami began their incredible season-ending streak of nine wins in their last 11 games with a 30-15 thrashing of Pittsburgh on October 17 in Miami.

The Dolphins (10-6) will be looking for their first playoff victory since December 30, 2000 when they beat the Indianapolis Colts.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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