MIAMI — Their running back quit, their coach resigned and their season is a shambles. But for some reason the Miami Dolphins kept trying against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, even when they trailed by 11 points with three minutes left.
And so the Dolphins staged a stunning comeback Monday night. With Tom Brady's ugly interception providing an opening, Miami scored two touchdowns in the final 2 minutes 7 seconds to beat the Patriots, 29-28.
Much-maligned A.J. Feeley threw for the game-winning score, a 21-yard pass to Derrius Thompson on fourth and 10 with 1:23 left.
Reeling ever since Ricky Williams' retirement in July, Miami (3-11) needed the win to avoid being swept by AFC East opponents this season.
"I keep asking everybody, 'Is it real?' " said linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who made the pivotal interception. "It's a big-time win. I can't believe it."
New England (12-2), which had already clinched the AFC East, lost ground to Pittsburgh (13-1) in the race for a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage. The defeat was only the second in 29 games for the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Patriots appeared to clinch the win when Brady threw his third touchdown pass, a two-yarder to Daniel Graham for a 28-17 lead with 3:59 left.
"That's a situation we're usually pretty good in," Coach Bill Belichick said. "We weren't tonight.... I'm disappointed in that. I don't know how else to put it to you."
The Dolphins drove 68 yards to score on Sammy Morris' one-yard run with 2:07 remaining, and then came Brady's uncharacteristic mistake.
On third down, he threw as he was being sacked by Jason Taylor. The ill-advised, off-balance pass sailed directly to Ayanbadejo, giving Miami a first down at the Patriot 21 with 1:45 to go.
"It was just a bad play," Brady said. "I was trying to throw it and got my arm ripped.... You try to make the play when there's not one to be made, and that's when mistakes come."
Three plays later, on fourth and 10, Thompson beat Troy Brown -- a receiver who doubles as a fifth cornerback -- and made the winning catch in the end zone.
"We've been on the losing end of so many drives like that," Feeley said. "It feels good to come out on top."