Sam Brenner’s ascension continues.
Brenner started at left guard Sunday and played throughout, surpassing Nate Garner on the depth chart. It’s a remarkable rise for an undrafted rookie who was a practice squad player for much of the season.
Brenner’s play Sunday was like the Dolphins’ line in general — some good, some bad.
Miami allowed three first-half sacks, but made adjustments at the break, allowing just one in the final two quarters.
“They were running stunts so we had to address what they were doing and correct it,” left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. “I had to give [Brenner] a heads up, because they were running stunts, and they were doing things based on how he was setting it, and I just had to make him aware of it.”
The four sacks allowed upped the Dolphins’ season total to 51 — just two shy of the team record, set in 1969.
The Dolphins also had just enough success running the ball to keep the Patriots honest, gaining 89 yards on 23 carries.
Lamar Miller started the week after getting knocked out of the Steelers game with a concussion. He led all players with 61 yards on 15 carries.
Nose tackle Paul Soliai left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. The severity of the injury was not immediately clear.
It left the Dolphins vulnerable at defensive tackle, because A.J. Francis was inactive. Randy Starks and Jared Odrick, the only other two interior linemen available Sunday, played extended snaps, although the Dolphins did rotate them out at times during sub packages.
If not for Michael Thomas’ game-clinching interception, a flubbed special-teams play in the first half would have loomed large.
Caleb Sturgis was lining up a 42-yard field goal when John Denney snapped the ball before holder Brandon Fields was looking. The ball bounced off Fields’ facemask and Sturgis never had a chance to kick. Had the Patriots scored a late touchdown, those three points would have been the game’s difference.
Many players and coaches hit the town after games — particularly wins like the Dolphins achieved Sunday. Joe Philbin had far more modest plans.
“I might jump in my pool,” Philbin said. “I’ve been in it once since I’ve been here.”
Short, not sweet
Down the hall, the mood — not surprisingly — wasn’t nearly as light.
Tom Brady ended his terse news conference by saying: “We had plenty of chances all day. We make some good plays and then we make plenty of [expletive] plays. Thank you.”
This and that
• Dolphins inactives: OG David Arkin, S D.J. Campbell, CB Justin Rogers, QB Pat Devlin, DT A.J. Francis, CB Jamar Taylor and OG Danny Watkins. Taylor was a surprise scratch, as he practiced all week.
• McKinnie, Cameron Wake and John Denney served as Dolphins captains.
• Sunday’s paid attendance was 71,863.