FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Starters Davone Bess and Nolan Carroll both finished the season where no player wants to be: on the shelf.
Bess missed his third consecutive game with a back injury, and a knee issue cost Carroll the last two of the year.
While Bess was ruled out on Friday, Carroll’s unavailability was a bit of a surprise. He practiced throughout the week and expressed optimism he’d play.
Rookie receiver Rishard Matthews started in Bess’ place, while Dimitri Patterson again got the nod at corner. Patterson was knocked out of the game with a left ankle injury in the first quarter; Bryan McCann took his place.
It was the first start of Matthews’ young career.
The Dolphins did get back strong-side linebacker Koa Misi, who hadn’t played since sustaining a high-ankle sprain against the 49ers on Dec. 9.
The Dolphins’ running game, an area of strength over the past month, was nonexistent for most of the game Sunday.
Miami managed just 29 yards on its first 14 carries, and Reggie Bush could get nothing going. He entered the game 40 yards shy of his second consecutive 1,000-yard season, but had just 1 yard on four carries in the first half.
Bush also went without a catch through the first two quarters, although he did break free deep; Ryan Tannehill simply overthrew him. Then in the third quarter, Bush dropped the handoff from Tannehill, fumbling away the Dolphins’ best scoring chance up to that point.
Before the game even began, the Dolphins were guaranteed to finish second in the AFC East for the first time since 2005. The Bills assured that by beating the Jets earlier in the day.
By finishing second, the Dolphins will play the following teams at home in 2013: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Carolina and San Diego. The Dolphins will travel to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Indianapolis.
This and that
• Full list of Dolphins’ inactives: Bess, Carroll, Pat Devlin, Josh Kaddu, Patrick Brown, Kyle Miller and Kheeston Randall.
• Michael Egnew, who was inactive in each of the first 14 games, played Sunday for the second week in a row.
• Tannehill on Sunday became the first Dolphins quarterback to start every game of his rookie season.
• With his 9-yard pass to Wes Welker in the first quarter, Tom Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass in all 16 games in three consecutive seasons. Later in the game, Brady passed Drew Bledsoe for ninth all-time in passing yards. Bledsoe finished his 14-year career with 44,611 yards.
• With Nate Kaeding’s 41-yard miss in the second quarter, he dropped to second in NFL history in field goal accuracy. Kaeding, who missed two of his first three kicks as a Dolphin, dipped to 86.2 percent for his career, just behind Mike Vanderjagt (86.5 percent).
• With 44 yards on three catches in the first half, Brian Hartline moved into the top 10 on the Dolphins’ single-season receiving list.
• Dolphins captains: Anthony Fasano, Cameron Wake and Jason Trusnik. Fasano left the game in the third quarter after taking a blow to the head. He underwent a concussion examination on the sidelines. Kevin Burnett likewise needed a concussion test in the second half.
• The game-time temperature at Gillette Stadium Sunday was 28 degrees, with a wind chill in the teens.
The Dolphins’ average home attendance — 57,379 — was the franchise’s worst in 23 years. The team drew 55,958 in 1989.