Miami (5-10) lost for the third time in eight games after opening at 0-7 and is 1-1 under Todd Bowles, who took over when Tony Sparano was fired.
“First half, we came out and played our tempo and our ballgame,” Bowles said. “The second half they made us play theirs.”
The AFC East champions trailed 17-0 at halftime but made the necessary adjustments and went to their no-huddle offense more, keeping the Dolphins from making defensive substitutions. And quarterback Tom Brady was on target after a first half in which heavy defensive pressure against a makeshift offensive line affected his accuracy. He completed just 7 of 19 passes for 87 yards and was sacked three times in the half.
But in the second half, he completed 20 of 27 passes for 217 yards, finishing at 27 for 46 for 304 yards and leading one scoring drive after another.
The Dolphins made it closer on Matt Moore's 15-yard scoring pass to Davone Bess with 1:48 to play. They had three timeouts left, but their hopes faded when Brady hit Wes Welker for a 6-yard gain and a first down.
The Dolphins seemed headed for a victory and got a break even before the game started when Patriots left tackle Matt Light hurt his ankle in warmups and didn't play. Left guard Logan Mankins took his spot, but he left with a knee injury suffered on New England's second series.
The Patriots punted on their first six series of the first half then missed a field goal on the other. The Dolphins struggled in the second half when Moore fumbled the snap at his 38-yard line and Vince Wilfork recovered.
Reggie Bush had another outstanding game for Miami with his fourth straight rushing day of at least 100 yards. He finished with 113 on 22 carries one week after gaining a career-high 203 yards.
His latest performance gave him 1,086 yards rushing for the season, the first time in his six years, the first five with the New Orleans Saints, that he passed 1,000.
“It really doesn't mean anything right now,” he said. “This one's pretty tough.”
Photo: AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
Lost Again: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.