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New England Patriots

Comeback bid falls short, Pats lose to Miami, 24-20

  • Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) intercepts a ball intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) intercepts a ball intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20.  (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

    New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

  • Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas (31)  intercepts a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

    Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas (31) intercepts a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

  • New England Patriots defensive tackle Joe Vellano (72) grabs Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) for a sack during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    New England Patriots defensive tackle Joe Vellano (72) grabs Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) for a sack during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

  • New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher (52) tackles Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher (52) tackles Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • New England Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (47) grabs a touchdown pass as Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) defends during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    New England Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (47) grabs a touchdown pass as Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) defends during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) intercepts a ball intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) intercepts a ball intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) attempts to hold onto the ball as Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla.  Amendola dropped the ball. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter   Carter  STF    AP)

    New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) attempts to hold onto the ball as Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Amendola dropped the ball. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter Carter STF AP)

  • Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) intercepts a ball intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20.  (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
  • Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas (31)  intercepts a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
  • New England Patriots defensive tackle Joe Vellano (72) grabs Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) for a sack during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
  • New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher (52) tackles Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • New England Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (47) grabs a touchdown pass as Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) defends during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) intercepts a ball intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie (10) as Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis (29) defends, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) attempts to hold onto the ball as Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas (31) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla.  Amendola dropped the ball. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter   Carter  STF    AP)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – When Tom Brady’s day ended with an errant final pass, he hung his head, unsnapped his chin strap and looked up at the scoreboard, which summarized his frustrating afternoon.

Dolphins 24, Patriots 20.

A late drive and the Patriots’ latest comeback bid came up short yesterday, and they missed a chance to clinch their fifth consecutive AFC East title.

Brady was intercepted in the end zone on fourth down with two seconds left by Dolphins newcomer Michael Thomas. That was the last in a series of squandered scoring chances for the Patriots (10-4), and a miffed Brady answered only two questions at his postgame news conference before ending the session.

“We didn’t do a good job in the red area, and didn’t do a good job finishing drives,” he said. “We came up on the short end of the stick. It wasn’t a good day. Just couldn’t make enough plays.”

The Dolphins (8-6) won their third game in a row to help their AFC wild-card chances, and snapped a streak of seven consecutive losses to the Patriots.

“We were short in every area,” New England Coach Bill Belichick said. “Nothing was really good enough.”

Brady threw for 364 yards, but drives of 16, 15 and 13 plays produced a total of only six points.

The last drive came in the final 1:15, when Brady led the Patriots from their own 20 to the Miami 14. It was familiar stuff from the Patriots, who had mounted second-half rallies to win their past three games.

With New England out of timeouts, Brady threw for the end zone four times in a row. The first three passes went incomplete, including one intended for Danny Amendola that Thomas broke up on first down.

Then, Thomas stepped in front of Austin Collie to make his interception. The reserve safety, signed Tuesday off the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad, was making his NFL debut.

“I knew being the new guy that Tom Brady would come after me,” Thomas said. “He’s a great quarterback, and he’s going to exploit any weaknesses. I knew if I got in there, I would have a chance. I saw the ball in the air and I made a play.”

Thomas was part of an injury-depleted secondary that also included backups at both cornerback spots on the final drive.

Brady went 34-for-55 and threw two touchdowns. Julian Edelman made 13 catches for 139 yards, and Amendola added 10 receptions for 131 yards.

New England took a 20-17 lead when Edelman scored on a 24-yard reception with four minutes left, but the Dolphins caught a break when the ensuing kickoff by Stephen Gostkowski went out of bounds, allowing them to start at their 40.

Charles Clay kept the drive going when he turned a short pass into a 6-yard gain on fourth-and-5 at midfield, and Marcus Thigpen scored five plays later.

“They were in some tight situations, especially late in the game,” Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington said. “They just wanted it more.”

New England, accustomed to slow starts, took a 10-0 lead on Michael Hoomanawanui’s one-handed, 13-yard touchdown reception. But on other trips to the red zone, they missed tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a season-ending knee injury a week ago.

The Patriots mounted drives of 16 and 15 plays but settled for a field goal each time, and Gostkowski misfired on a field goal try for only the third time this year when he sailed a 48-yard attempt wide left.

“Today just wasn’t my day,” Gostkowski said. “It stinks to play terrible and your team loses. It’s like salt on the wound.”

Notes

∎ Patriots T Nate Solder aggravated a head injury in the second half and sat out the rest of the game.

∎ Dolphins DT Paul Soliai sat out the last three quarters with an ankle injury. CB Nolan Carroll (knee) was limited in the second half, and CB Brent Grimes (cramps) went to the sideline in the fourth quarter.

∎ The Dolphins botched a field-goal try when John Denney snapped the ball before holder Brandon Fields was ready, and the ball hit Fields in the facemask.

∎ Miami’s seven home games have been decided by a total of 23 points.

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