Tom Brady rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another as the New England Patriots overcame a 17-point halftime deficit and clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs with a 27-24 home triumph over the Miami Dolphins on Saturday.
Former Dolphin Wes Welker had 12 receptions for 138 yards and Deion Branch had a 1-yard touchdown catch for AFC East champion New England (12-3), which recorded its seventh straight victory and inched closer to the AFC's top seed.
The Patriots remained one game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens (11-4) and Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4), who posted victories over the Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams, respectively, on Saturday.
After torching the Dolphins for a career-high 517 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener, Brady completed just three of his first 14 passes for 37 yards on Saturday. The reigning NFL MVP then caught fire in the second half - completing 10 straight passes at one point - and finishing 27 of 46 for 304 yards with a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs.
New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork recovered Matt Moore's fumble and the Patriots trimmed the deficit to seven (17-10) after Branch caught Brady's 1-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone midway through the third quarter.
Brady then leveled the contest nearly five minutes later by bulling in from 1 yard out.
With Miami wilting, New England kept the pressure on by scoring 10 points in the fourth - capped by Brady's second career two-touchdown rushing performance.
Moore tossed touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall to Charles Clay in the first half, and his third scoring strike to Davone Bess brought the Dolphins back to within 27-24 with 1:48 remaining.
Marshall, who reeled in a 19-yard scoring strike on a slant route, had seven receptions for 156 yards for Miami (5-10).
Reggie Bush rushed 22 times for 113 yards to move over the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time in his career. Bush, whose previous season high was 581 yards in 2007, exited the contest with an apparent knee injury in the fourth quarter.