By David Dwork

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MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – Just when you thought they were dead in the water, the Miami Dolphins have come roaring back to life.

Miami controlled the game from start to finish and despite being double-digit underdogs, took down the division leading New England Patriots 27-20 at Hard Rock Stadium.

gettyimages 890643516 Dolphins Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With Stunning Win Over New England

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) and teammates react after intercepting the ball in the first quarter as the Miami Dolphins host the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Source: Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

Jay Cutler had his best game in a Dolphins uniform, completing 25-of-38 passes for 263 yards a three touchdowns for a quarterback rating of 112.1.

The Dolphins team that showed up for this primetime affair is the one that was expected to represent the aqua and orange all season.

Miami constantly changed formations and moved around before the snap on defense, keeping Tom Brady and the Pats guessing as to when the blitzes were coming and from where.

Brady looked uncomfortable from the start, throwing an interception on New England’s first possession and never really recovering.

Suddenly the Dolphins, seemingly out of playoff contention two short weeks ago, are right back in the thick of things.

Miami is now one game under .500 and one game back of the final AFC playoff spot.

One game back, but with four teams to climb over.

The Dolphins and Raiders are now tied at 6-7.

The Chiefs, Bills, Ravens and Chargers are all 7-6.

Of those six teams, at least two of them will make the playoffs.

It certainly won’t be easy, but the Dolphins team that has shown up during the past two weeks is one that appears poised for a playoff run.

Miami’s final three games are at Buffalo, at Kansas City and home for Buffalo.

STREAK BREAKERS

Coming into this game, New England had won eight straight games overall, 14 straight games on the road and seven straight in the AFC East.

THE X-FACTOR

Xavien Howard picked off Brady twice, giving him consecutive games with two interceptions.

Both came on passes intended for Brandon Cooks.

A CUT ABOVE

Jay Cutler had his best game in a Dolphins uniform, by far. He came out of gate firing on all cylinders, completing 75-percent of his first half passes for 181 yards, a touchdown and a quarterback rating of 119.0.

After halftime all Cutler did was lead Miami on back-to-back scoring drives, tossing a pair of touchdowns to Jakeem Grant and Jarvis Landry.

LOVE THE DRAKE

Don’t look now but the Dolphins might just have themselves a premiere running back in Kenyan Drake.

He topped 100 rushing yards for the second straight game, gaining 114 yards on 25 carries against the Pats.

Drake also led Miami in receiving yards, racking up 79 on five receptions.

In two games since being thrust into an every-down role, Drake has accumulated 334 all-purpose yards on 56 touches.

THIRD DOWN AND OUT

New England was shutout by the Dolphins defense on third down, coming up empty on each of their 11 opportunities.

It was the first time since 1991 that the Patriots failed to convert on a single third down.

GAME NOTES

  • Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips picked up his second sack in as many games, his only two on the season.
  • Jakeem Grant’s touchdown catch was the first of his NFL career.
  • New England came into the game with fewest number of 3-and-outs in the NFL this season with 32.  That number went up by over 20-percent on Monday as the Miami forced the Patriots into  seven 3-and-outs.
  • Kenyan Drake is the first Dolphins player with 100 rushing yards and 75 receiving yards in one game since Ronnie Brown did it in 2007.
  • Jarvis Landry caught two touchdowns, giving him a total of eight on the season. His previous career high was five, which came during his rookie year in 2014.
  • Tom Brady is now 7-9 in his career playing at Hard Rock Stadium.

 

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