Game info: Patriots vs. Dolphins

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Game info: Patriots vs. Dolphins

GAME TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST

TV NETWORK: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Dolphins lead, 50-44

LAST MEETING: Patriots 23, Dolphins 16 at Sun Life Stadium on Dec. 2, 2012

The Patriots enter todays game with a 5-0 record in AFC East games and can finish their slate of divisional games without a loss for the second time in team history. The Patriots were a perfect 6-0 in AFC East play in 2007. New England has had just one loss in division play in 1986, 1997, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011

The Patriots and Dolphins will meet in the regular-season finale for the 13th time overall and for the seventh time in Foxboro. The Patriots are 3-3 against Miami on regular-season finales at Foxboro.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

With one touchdown pass against the Dolphins, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 48 straight games with at least one touchdown pass, breaking a tie with Johnny Unitas for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Drew Brees (54) is in first place.

Brady (9) needs one more game with four touchdowns, 300 yards and no interceptions to tie Drew Brees (10) for the all-time NFL lead.

Brady will aim to lead his team to its 12th win today. If the Pats win, it will be Brady's seventh 12-win season, one behind Peyton Mannings nine.

Brady (3,776) needs 12 completions to move past Vinny Testaverde (3,787) into eighth place on the NFLs all-time completion list.

Brady (44,522) needs 90 passing yards to move past Drew Bledsoe (45,077) into eighth place on the NFLs all-time passing list.

If Brady has one touchdown pass against Miami, he will be the first NFL player to have thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 16 games for three straight seasons.

Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10 from 50 or more yards) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history. Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.

Gostkowski has 149 points in 2012 and needs seven points to break Gino Cappellettis single-season record of 155 points set in 1964.

Brandon Lloyd (902) needs 98 receiving yards against Miami to become the 10th Patriots player to have a 1,000-yard receiving season.

With 10 tackles, Jerod Mayo will have his 11th 10-plus tackle game of the season. He had his 10th 10-tackle game vs. San Francisco to match the career-high 10 10-tackle games he had in 2010.

Rob Ninkovich has a team-leading five forced fumbles, tying Mike Vrabel (2007) for the most forced fumbles for a Patriots player within the last 20 years.

The Patriots defense has forced a turnover in 26 straight games, dating back to 2011 and including the first 15 games of 2012. The last NFL team to have at least one takeaway in all 16 regular-season games was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots have 416 first downs and need one more to break the NFL record set by New Orleans in 2011.

Branch carries on with productive season after suspension is overturned

Branch carries on with productive season after suspension is overturned

FOXBORO – The first snap of the game for the Los Angeles Rams offense was an inside handoff to running back Todd Gurley. He was summarily stuffed by Patriots defensive lineman Alan Branch for a 1-yard loss.

It was happenstance, of course, that the Rams chose to run right at Branch. But it was no coincidence that the Branch was there to envelop Gurley like an upright sofa. The 6-foot-6, 350-pound, 31-year-old has been doing that all season. And on Saturday, word broke that he will be able to continue doing so, uninterrupted by NFL discipline.

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

Branch, who was set to be suspended by the NFL for testing positive for marijuana, had his suspension rescinded by the league. The league did so without hearing the appeal Branch filed. Apparently, they decided they just got it wrong. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reports that the traces of marijuana in Branch’s system were from a previously failed test and did not constitute a separate incident.

It’s been a strange season for Branch, a quirky, goofy, good-natured guy who dances during practices, stretching, on the sidelines and in between plays more than any other Patriot. That’s if any other Patriot actually dances. Branch was suspended by the team for a week during training camp. Reason unknown.

Regardless, his play’s been very good.

“This has definitely been the most productive year I’ve had so far,” he said. “Is it my best? When it comes to numbers it probably would be but there’s a lot of plays and a lot of games I could have done better. I’m kinda my own worst critic.”

Why has he been so productive?

“It’s a good defense for me,” he explained. “The playcalls and way we play goes to my strength to allow me to make plays and I’m making them.”

Branch has 40 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble this season. He had just that lone tackle on the stat sheet on Sunday, but he was a factor even if the stats don’t say so. During one first-half rush, Branch worked upfield with a bull rush, then spun back to his right to get in the face of Rams quarterback Jared Goff, forcing an incompletion.  

“That’s all reaction,” said Branch. “That was a hard day’s work on that play because I kept reacting and reacting and then I was right there. I just get out there and try to cause some ruckus.”

Meanwhile, the would-be suspension caused a ruckus for Branch prior to Saturday.

“I was upset because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “Having my name out there for my family and friends and my kids family and friends to see, you never want to have that on you. But I just wanted to go out there and take it one day at a time and play my best ball because I felt pretty confident that I was going to win the appeal or whatever was going to happen. I expected it because I didn’t see how it could go any other way when I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Asked if the league reached out to apologize for getting it wrong, Branch said, “I haven’t gotten anything yet. I haven’t read any emails yet, I haven’t opened my emails.”

Asked if he cares to hear an apology, Branch said, “I do care. I don’t know if it’s an apology or what (that he’s seeking) but the position I was put in was something else.”