FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots added to their recent domination over the Miami Dolphins. Tom Brady and company are starting to look like the team to beat in the AFC — again.
Brady, looking like an MVP candidate at age 40, tossed four touchdown passes to help the Patriots roll to a 35-17 victory Sunday.
It was New England’s seventh straight win. Next up is a closing stretch of four division opponents in five games.
The Patriots also have won at least nine games for 17 consecutive seasons. That is the most consecutive winning seasons since the 1970 merger.
“I was a kid growing up in San Mateo when the (San Francisco 49ers) were doing that too,” Brady said. “The expectations are really high because of what teams in the past have done and I think the guys that come and sit in these chairs right here and look up at coach (Bill) Belichick and understand kind of what we’re playing for and the history of the team.”
One of New England’s final five games will be a second meeting against Miami (4-7) in two weeks, a team that has now lost five straight overall and nine consecutive times in New England by a combined score of 290-126.
The Dolphins’ season isn’t a total lost cause yet, but it’s certainly nearing that tipping point as they slosh through their worst losing streak since 2011 .
Coach Adam Gase said he believes there is still fight in his team.
“I think they are still battling,” he said. “That’s the frustrating part, more than anything. And it’s not translating to Sunday. …They have to trust what they are being told and do exactly what they are supposed to do and that’s when we will start having better results.”
It will be even tougher going forward. With starting quarterback Jay Cutler continuing to work his way back from the concussion protocol, the Dolphins also lost running back Damien Williams on Sunday. He was carted off the field in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
Miami quarterback Matt Moore struggled to find a rhythm in his second start of the season. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, but also had two interceptions. He was sacked seven times.
“Obviously going to have to reevaluate where we are at right now,” Gase said. “Probably have to move some pieces around. I don’t even know how bad everyone is right now.”
Miami entered Sunday as the second-most penalized team in the NFL, committing 84 penalties in its first 10 games.
It had only six for 52 yards against the Patriots, but two of them helped set up New England’s third score of the game.
“There’s self-inflicted wounds that kind of reared their ugly heads,” defensive lineman Cameron Wake said. “They cost you plays, which in turn cost you position on the field, which in turn costs you points on the board. And, obviously, that sways the course of the game.”
Moore wasn’t the only player taking some hits on Sunday.
Though Brady was only sacked once by the Dolphins defense, he took eight total hits.
He acknowledged after the game that he was expecting Miami’s defense to try to rough him up.
“Yeah, I definitely took some shots. They’re a tough D-line,” Brady said. “They’ve obviously made a lot of investments in that group and those guys play really hard. … They got some good shots on me today but I’ll be back at it and be ready to go Wednesday.”
Brady’s interception and his fumbled snap that was returned for a touchdown were the Patriots’ first turnovers since their Oct. 15 win over the Jets.
Brady had just two interceptions in 2016.
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