BY SEAN DONOVAN
A couple of unforced turnovers prevented Miami from pulling off an upset that was within its grasp.
After the Dolphins went three-and-out in the game's opening drive, in what was an omen for the rest of their afternoon, punter Brandon Fields bobbled a snap and was tackled at Miami's 12-yard line.
The Patriots eventually punched it in with Stevan Ridley from 2 yards out to open the day's scoring.
The special teams unit hurt Miami again in the second quarter when, after the defense forced a three-and-out, a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave a Patriots' drive new life. Tom Brady led his team down the field and connected with Wes Welker for a 7-yard touchdown pass.
These mistakes helped the Patriots jump out to a 17-3 second quarter lead.
But the Dolphins' offense didn't do much to help, either.
Miami scored on a 2-yard Ryan Tannehill keeper before halftime after a long drive, but outside of that sequence, the Dolphins' offense struggled to develop any continuity and managed only three field goals against the Patriots' defense.
Tannehill was wildly inconsistent throwing the ball, accurately completing passes downfield at times but more often missing his targets.
He completed just 13-of-29 attempts for 186 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.
Follow Sean @seanldonovan
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily