10-Year Phiniversary: Dolphins Rally From 14 Down to Top Patriots in Thriller

10 years ago, the Miami Dolphins rallied from 14 points down to top the New England Patriots in a 22-21 thriller
Miami Dolphins' Dan Carpenter (5) kicks the game winning field goal against the New England Patriots during an NFL football game in Miami Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009. The Dolphins won 22-21. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

South Florida has been a difficult place for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots over the years. Although the Miami Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since 2000, they are 6-5 in their last 11 homes games against New England.

The late Tony Sparano coached the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011 and managed just one home victory over the Patriots. It came in a thriller on this day 10 years ago.

The Dolphins were just 5-6 as they played host to the Patriots at what then was called Land Shark Stadium on Dec. 6, 2009. New England was 7-4 and raced to a 2-touchdown lead, but a late field goal and an interception sealed the Miami comeback in a 22-21 victory.

The Dolphins trailed 14-0 early and by 11 early in the third quarter before mounting a comeback. Miami trailed by two entering the fourth quarter and it looked as though it may have been out of luck after three drives in the final period came up empty. After a pair of punts and a turnover on down inside the New England 40-yard-line, the Patriots took over with less than five minutes to play and a 21-19 lead.

The Miami defense stood tall by forcing a 3-and-out. With less than four minutes to play, the Dolphins took over at their own 26-yard-line. After a pair of first downs, the Dolphins again faced a key fourth down near the Patriots’ 40.

Facing 4th-and-6, quarterback Chad Henne kept Miami’s hopes alive with a 13-yard strike to Greg Camarillo. The Dolphins would stall on the next set of downs, forcing kicker Dan Carpenter to try a 41-yard field goal. With 1:02 remaining, Carpenter calmly drilled the kick to give the Dolphins their first lead.

Miami left a lot of time for quarterback Tom Brady and the New England offense, but it would take just three plays to seal the contest. After Brady completed an 11-yard pass to Sammy Morris for a first down and spiked the ball to stop the clock, the Dolphins were able to get pressure on Brady. With star defensive end Cameron Wake wrapped around Brady’s ankle, the veteran quarterback forced a throw into the middle of the field and into the arms of Miami linebacker Channing Crowder, which sealed the Dolphins victory.

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Brady passed for 352 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the loss, but was also intercepted twice. New England led 7-0 after Brady found Randy Moss for a 58-yard touchdown on the Patriots’ opening drive. Running back Kevin Faulk doubled that lead with a 6-yard touchdown one play into the second quarter.

Miami was able to settle in and get back into the contest when Henne found Davone Bess for a 13-yard touchdown less than four minutes into the second quarter. Carpenter’s first of three field goals would make it a 14-10 game at halftime.

New England pushed the lead back to 11 on an 81-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Sam Aiken on the opening drive of the second half. A Carpenter field goal and a 7-yard touchdown pass from Henne to Brian Hartline followed by a failed 2-point conversion accounted for the final points before Carpenter’s winning kick.

Henne finished with 335 yards passing, the two scores and one interception in the win. Miami’s Ricky Williams led all rushers with 75 yards on 18 carries. Bess caught 10 passes for 117 yards to lead Miami while former Dolphin, Wes Welker, finished with 10 receptions for 167 yards to lead New England. In addition to Crowder, Miami’s Vontae Davis and New England’s Brandon Meriweather each came away with interceptions.

The Dolphins would beat the Jacksonville Jaguars the following week, but finish the year with three straight losses for a 7-9 record. New England would lose just once more to finish 10-6 and win the AFC East. In both of their final two losses however, the Patriots let a 14-point lead slip away. The first occasions came on this day a decade ago.

Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.

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