NFL: New England Patriots finish second seed in AFC after Miami Dolphins win
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 31/12/12 2:02am
Rob Gronkowski: Back in action with a TD
The New England Patriots locked up a week off in the play-offs with a facile shutout of the Miami Dolphins at Foxborough.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and Stevan Ridley ran in two short-yardage scores as the Patriots had few problems stepping into the gap left by Houston's loss against Indianapolis to book a bye in the play-offs.
New England finished the season on 12-4 and that was good enough to claim the second seed in the AFC standings and therefore a first round bye in the play-offs before a home game in the divisional round on January 12/13.
Another bright point for the Patriots was the return to action of top tight end Rob Gronkowski, who celebrated his comeback from a broken arm with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Gronkowski was injured and not at full speed during the last Super Bowl, but now back healthy he could fire the Pats back to the big game and even go one better with him in Brady's armoury.
Wes Welker caught a nine-yard touchdown pass against his former team Miami before Rudley ran in from one and two yards in the second quarter to boost the scoreline.