Sport

Patriots reassert themselves with win over Dolphins

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots emphatically answered their doubters Sunday, marching to a 38-7 NFL victory over the previously unbeaten Miami Dolphins.

Tom Brady and Patriots teammate James White celebrate a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins
Tom Brady and Patriots teammate James White celebrate a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots emphatically answered their doubters Sunday, marching to a 38-7 NFL victory over the previously unbeaten Miami Dolphins.

The five-time Super Bowl champion Patriots emerged from their early season doldrums to avoid losing three straight games for the first time since the 2002 season.

New England scored three touchdowns in the second quarter and led 38-0 before the Dolphins put a touchdown on the board late in the fourth, improving to 2-2 as they avoided falling three games behind AFC East division leaders Miami.

The Dolphins fell to 3-1 as they were denied a first 4-0 start since Hall of Fame coach Don Shula's final season in 1995.

Brady threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns and the Patriots demonstrated the consistency they lacked in defeats to Jacksonville and Detroit.

The only downside for the Patriots was the departure of tight end Rob Gronkowski with a right ankle injury in the third quarter.

"Today is a big one to build on," said Brady, who was nevertheless already focusing on a looming Thursday clash with Indianapolis.

"It's a short week and we've got to get ready an try to go beat the Colts," he said.

The Dolphins next take on the Cincinnati Bengals, who shook off an ugly leg injury to tight end Tyler Eifert to edge the Falcons 37-36 in Atlanta.

The Bengals built a 28-24 halftime lead before losing Eifert, who was in obvious pain after he was brought down after a third-quarter catch with his right ankle twisting badly.

He was carted off the field with the leg in an air cast.

The Bengals fell behind 36-31 before Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton authored a last-gasp touchdown drive, connecting with A.J. Green on a 13-yard scoring pass to seal the victory.

The Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys pulled off close wins as well.

The Titans converted three fourth downs in overtime to beat the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles 26-23.

The Texans snapped a nine-game losing streak as they edged the Indianapolis Colts 37-34 in overtime and the Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions 26-24.

Houston's Ka'imi Fairbairn nailed a 37-yard field goal as overtime expired to seal the Texans' first win since last November.

Houston had regained the ball with 24 seconds remaining when the Colts threw an incomplete pass on fourth down and four in an aggressive bid for the victory.

The defeat spoiled a landmark day for Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who surpassed Morten Andersen for most career field goals in NFL history. Vinatieri passed Andersen with his 566th career field goal in the first half and his 567th had given Indianapolis a 34-31 lead in overtime.

Brett Maher booted a 38-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Cowboys.

His fourth field goal of the game was set up by quarterback Dak Prescott's 34-yard pass to running back Ezekiel Elliot, who ran for 152 yards and became the first player with more than 200 total yards from scrimmage this season as he added 88 receiving yards on four catches.