MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — New England coach Bill Belichick was asked if the Patriots’ eight-game winning streak ended because they looked past the Miami Dolphins to Sunday’s showdown between division leaders at Pittsburgh.
Belichick dismissed the idea.
“Give me a break,” he said with a glare.
So how to explain New England’s 27-20 loss Monday night? The Patriots (10-3) were 11-point favorites but missed a chance to clinch their ninth consecutive AFC East title — at least for another week.
The upset erased some of the sting to a disappointing season for the Dolphins (6-7), who have won two in a row.
“We’ve been waiting for this to happen,” coach Adam Gase said.
Here are some things to know about the Patriots’ first loss since Oct. 1:
New England failed to convert a third down for the first time since 1991, and Tom Brady looked like the quarterback that season, Hugh Millen.
Brady was intercepted twice by Xavien Howard and had his lowest passer rating since 2013.
“It starts with me,” Brady said. “I’ve got to throw the ball better.”
The Dolphins sacked him twice and broke up seven passes.
“We were trying to keep them a little bit off balance,” Gase said. “The guys did a good job of playing team defense. It really starts with our front. They just played well together.”
Brady went 24 for 43 for 233 yards and one touchdown. New England was 0 for 11 on third down.
Kenyan Drake ran for 26 yards on his first carry for Miami and kept going. He finished with 114 yards rushing to top the 100 mark for the second consecutive game, and added 79 receiving.
“We saw him running past linebackers, and he breaks tackles in the hole,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “He’s becoming one of those complete backs you can do a lot with.”
Drake has emerged as Miami’s workhorse back following the midseason trade of Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia.
STOUT RUN DEFENSE
The Patriots ran for 196 yards to beat the Dolphins in Week 12. In the rematch, Miami allowed only 25 yards on 10 carries.
“Two weeks ago they were a lot more physical than us,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “We wanted to play to the whistle and impose our will.”
The Patriots totaled 248 yards in their worst effort since Week 17 of the 2015 season — also a loss at Miami.
Howard now has four career interceptions, all in the past two weeks. He also broke up three throws by Brady.
“We knew what we could take advantage of,” the second-year pro said. “I just wanted to go out there and make big plays for the team.”
If the Patriots weren’t looking ahead to the Steelers before the loss, they were immediately afterward. Pittsburgh (11-2) leads by one game in the race for the best AFC record.
“We can’t go up there and play as poorly as we did tonight,” Brady said. “We have to do a lot of things better.”
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)