By Walter Villa
The Sports Xchange
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins deflated the New England Patriots’ chances for gaining AFC home-field advantage, and Jarvis Landry made sure the reigning Super Bowl champions made the historical connection.
Landry, Miami’s star wide receiver, caught two of Jay Cutler’s three touchdown passes as the double-digit underdog Dolphins upset the Patriots 27-20 on Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium.
After his second touchdown grab, Landry celebrated by pretending to inflate the football – perhaps mocking New England quarterback Tom Brady’s “Deflategate” issues.
After the game, Landry was asked what his celebration meant, and he answered in song.
“This song right here – ‘take the air out of the ball just so I can flex,’ ” Landry said. “I won’t say the rest (of the song) because you all will take it out of context.”
Asked again about his gesture, Landry said: “I’m taking the air out of the ball. I’m deflating.”
Landry wasn’t the only Dolphins hero.
Cutler completed 25 of 38 passes for 263 yards. Kenyan Drake led Miami’s ground game with 114 yards on 25 carries. It was the second straight 100-yard game for Drake, who also caught five passes for 79 yards.
“We felt that, with our personnel, we could take advantage of mismatches with their defense,” Drake said. “Jay was out there slinging the rock around the field, and everyone was making big plays.”
The Patriots (10-3), who visit the 11-2 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in what was looking like a battle for AFC home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs, may have been caught looking ahead as their eight-game win streak was snapped.
“We weren’t good enough in any area tonight to win the game,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “It was not a good effort across the board.”
Brady got off to a poor start, missing all four of his first-quarter passes. For the game, Brady completed 24 of 43 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown, but he was intercepted twice – both by cornerback Xavien Howard.
“They get them sometimes, too,” Brady said of defensive players. “I wish they never got them, but sometimes they do. There were a lot of 50-50 balls that were close.”
Before Monday, Brady had just four interceptions all season and never more than one in a game. His last multiple-interception game was in 2015.
The Patriots went 0-for-11 on third downs, a statistic that surely bothered Brady.
“We just didn’t make enough plays,” Brady said. “We’ve had a lot of good nights this year. But this was a bad night.”
Miami (6-7) compiled an impressive 123-2 yardage advantage after one quarter but led just 6-0. The Dolphins scored on field goals of 30 and 44 yards by Cody Parkey.
The first field goal was the result of a 13-play, 69-yard dive. The second was set up by an interception by Howard.
New England got untracked in the second quarter, taking a 7-6 lead on a 3-yard run by Rex Burkhead.
On the next possession, Miami took a 13-7 lead on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to Landry.
New England closed its deficit to 13-10 on a 46-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski with two seconds left in the first half.
Miami extended its lead to 20-10 when Jakeem Grant made a spectacular, leaping 25-yard touchdown catch, crashing to the turf in the end zone.
The Dolphins closed the third-quarter scoring with Landry’s 4-yard reception.
New England crept closer as Brady’s 3-yard touchdown pass to James White cut Miami’s lead to 27-17 with 13:05 to play.
With 53 seconds left in the game, the Patriots, who had a first-and-goal at the Miami 1-yard line, had to settle for a 33-yard Gostkowski field goal after getting hit with illegal shift and holding penalties.
Trailing 27-20, New England failed to recover an onside kick, sealing the win for Miami.