The win was New England’s first in the last six visits to Miami and ended an 0-for-13 skid here in September and October.
The Dolphins (4-2) had two chances to win the game. But Olindo Mare missed a pair of field-goal attempts on the infield dirt. The NFL’s second most accurate kicker of all time had one blocked near the end of regulation and missed one wide right in overtime—both on dirt.
With the Florida Marlins playing the New York Yankees in the World Series, infield dirt from the baseball field remains at Pro Player Stadium. It played a key role in New England winning for the first time in the season’s first two months, when sweltering summer heat and humidity are still lingering, and opponents unaccustomed to the weather tend to suffer meltdowns.
“Go Marlins!” said Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour, who blocked the fourth-quarter kick.
With the victory, the Patriots (5-2) moved atop the AFC East.
The Dolphins were poised to take the lead with less than two minutes to play in regulation, but Seymour blocked Mare’s 35-yard attempt.
“We can’t put everything on the kicker,” Dolphins center Tim Ruddy said. “Everyone on this offense could have done more. We’re disappointed, but everyone is looking at themselves and asking what they could have done better. We definitely had chances, and we didn’t do enough with those chances. That’s why we lost this game.”
The Dolphins won a controversial coin toss in overtime, and Jay Fiedler hit Darrius Thompson for a 31-yard completion down the sideline. Ricky Williams then ran 13 yards around the right end to put Miami in field-goal range.
The Patriots called tails and said the coin landed on tails. They said veteran referee Gerald Austin mistakenly turned it over as he picked it up off the ground. Austin said the players were confused about which side was which.
It worked out fine for the Patriots, though. Having lost the toss, coach Bill Belichick instructed his team captains to make Miami drive to the end of the field with the dirt.
And Mare missed a shot to win the game when his second 35-yard attempt went wide right with 12:01 on the clock.
Mare had left the locker room by the time reporters entered.
“It was almost like they wanted to give it to us,” Brown said. “Finally we took advantage of it.”
The Patriots’ ensuing drive ended when Jason Taylor sacked Brady on third down. Brady fumbled the ball but recovered, allowing a punt.
But then Fiedler gave the ball right back with his second interception.
On the next play, Brady found Brown slanting deep across the middle. He caught the ball near the left sideline between safeties Sammy Knight and Brock Marion and raced to the end zone with the longest reception of his career.
“It was unbelievable,” Brady said. “We were down and out a few times. The offensive line gave me a lot of time. I let it go and he made a great catch. This shows the mental toughness this team has. We made the adjustments and we’re only going to get better.”
Since a dismal performance in a season-opening 31-0 loss at Buffalo, the Patriots have won five of six despite a lengthy injury list that includes defensive starters Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest, Ted Washington and Ty Law.
All four defenders were inactive for the game.
Nonetheless, the Patriots held Williams in check most of the game. The NFL’s leading rusher a year ago, he finished with 94 yards on 27 carries.
Brady finished 24-of-34 for 283 yards. He also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to David Givens to tie the game at 13 in the third quarter.
Brown caught six passes for 131 yards.
“Everyone’s telling them they can’t win down here, everyone’s telling them it’s too hot, everyone’s telling them they have too many injuries,” Belichick said. “They didn’t buy it. They came down and played their hearts out. It felt good.”
Brown’s previous longest reception in 11 seasons went for 67 yards. … Fiedler injured his left knee late in the fourth quarter but returned with a brace in overtime. … The Dolphins missed a chance to start 5-1 for the fourth time in five years. … Patriots RB Kevin Faulk, starting in place of Antowain Smith, had a combined 69 yards rushing and receiving. … Dolphins LT Mark Dixon, who has missed all season with an ankle injury, has targeted a returnnext Monday night at San Diego.