Xavien Howard picks off Tom Brady twice, Dolphins topple visiting Patriots
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins wore their perfect season uniforms, and for at least one game in 2017, they looked the part.
Tom Brady was intercepted twice by Xavien Howard and held without a third-down conversion Monday night, and Miami snapped the New England Patriots’ eight-game winning streak with a surprising 27-20 victory.
The Dolphins (6-7) were 11-point underdogs at home, but they kept the Patriots (10-3) from clinching their ninth consecutive AFC East title — at least for another week.
“It was a bad night,” Brady said. “We’ve had a lot of good nights this year. This was a bad night.”
Brady went 24 for 43 for 233 yards and one touchdown. Miami sacked him twice and hit him five times, and held the Patriots to 25 yards rushing. New England was 0 for 11 on third down.
“Our focus every game is to hit the quarterback as hard as we can and make him uncomfortable,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “I think we did a pretty good job of it.”
The Dolphins’ Jay Cutler threw for 263 yards and three scores, including two to Jarvis Landry. Kenyan Drake had 114 yards rushing and 79 receiving.
A Brady touchdown pass cut the deficit to 10 points with 13 minutes left, but the Patriots’ next three possessions netted 5 yards. After a New England field goal, Miami sealed the victory by recovering an onside kick with 53 seconds to go.
“This gives us a boost,” Cutler said. “Winning is what keeps you in this game. The locker room after a game, there’s nothing like it.”
The Dolphins wore their 1972 uniforms, and for the first time in four prime-time appearances this season, they rose to the occasion. Miami tried to turn the game into a laugher in the third quarter when Landry caught a touchdown pass and then set the ball down in the end zone and pumped it repeatedly — a reference to the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal.
“It’s all about taking the air out of the ball,” Landry said.
Coach Adam Gase beat New England for the first time in four tries. His team snapped the Patriots’ 14-game road winning streak, second-best ever behind San Francisco’s 18 in a row from 1988-90.
Gase threw a lot of wrinkles at the Patriots early, with tight end MarQueis Gray and receivers Landry and Jakeem Grant taking turns lining up in the backfield.
“We used a lot of guys,” Cutler said. “We were mixing it up. Adam was dialing it up well.”
Cutler spun out of the grasp of blitzing safety Jordan Richards to throw a completion that kept Miami’s first touchdown drive going.
The 5-foot-7 Grant made a leaping catch against Malcolm Butler his first career touchdown reception, a 25-yarder.
Meanwhile, the Patriots sputtered without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who served a one-game suspension for a late hit to the head of an opponent.
“We got beat in all three areas of the game,” coach Bill Belichick said.
Brady underthrew an open Brandin Cooks deep, and Howard closed for the interception and a 29-yard return to set up a touchdown. Howard also had two interceptions a week ago against Denver.
Brady came into the game with only four interceptions all season.
The temperature was 55 degrees at kickoff — frosty by Miami standards — and the Patriots were sluggish from the outset. They were outgained 123 yards to 2 in the first quarter, when Brady went 0 for 4 with an interception.
The Dolphins’ Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas knelt in protest during the national anthem, as they’ve done for most of the season. Stills was nominated by his teammates last week for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Patriots DT Alan Branch left the game with a knee injury. Starting S Patrick Chung limped off in the final minute.
The Patriots visit AFC North champion Pittsburgh on Sunday in a possible playoff preview.
The Dolphins play the Bills in two of their final three games, including Sunday at Buffalo.
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