NFL: Miami Dolphins continued their wildcard push with victory against New England Patriots
Last Updated: 16/12/13 1:02pm
Ryan Tannehill: Miami Dolphins quarterback helped side earn first win over New England Patriots in eight attempts
New England Patriots missed the chance to clinch the AFC East title after going down 24-20 on the road to Miami Dolphins, who moved to 8-6 for the season and into a wildcard play-off spot with the victory.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw three touchdowns, including the game winner to Marcus Thigpen with one minute and 21 seconds remaining.
Tannehill's opposite number Tom Brady drove the Patriots into scoring range as the clock ran down but could not get the ball into the end zone despite having five attempts.
The first four of those fell incomplete before Michael Thomas picked off the fifth to clinch the Dolphins' third straight victory and snap a run of seven defeats in a row to their division-rival Patriots.
The Patriots fall to 10-4 but need to win only one of their final two games to ensure a fifth straight division title. But Bill Belichick's men have now ceded advantage to the 11-3 Denver Broncos in the race for top seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the play-offs.
New England led 10-0 at SunLife Stadium thanks to Stephen Gostkowski's early field goal from 22 yards and a 13-yard touchdown catch from Michael Hoomanawanui late in the second quarter.
Tannehill responded before half-time with an eight-play, 82-yard drive culminating in a 39-yard scoring pass to Mike Wallace.
Caleb Sturgis' 32-yard field goal brought the Dolphins level at 10-10 and Daniel Thomas scored on a two-yard touchdown pass to put them in front for the first time right at the start of the final quarter.
Gostkowski's second field goal was quickly followed by Brady finding Julian Edelman for a 24-yard touchdown to allow the Patriots to re-take the lead.
But Tannehill again found the necessary response, marching Miami 60 yards in nine plays for Thigpen's touchdown - and the defence stopped Brady when it mattered in the dying moments.
The result eliminates Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders from play-off contention in the AFC. Tennessee Titans joined that group later on Sunday when they lost to Arizona Cardinals in overtime.