Updated: Sunday, December 7, 2003 10:21 PM EST
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NEW ENGLAND 12, MIAMI 0
Dolphins
Patriots

FOXBORO, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- Bill Belichick's defense was like a blizzard for the Miami Dolphins .

With snow falling throughout most of the game and a bitter wind chill, the Patriots clinched their second AFC East title in three seasons with a 12-0 victory over the Dolphins.

The win was the ninth in a row for New England (11-2), which recorded its second straight home shutout and tied Kansas City for the best record in the NFL.

The Dolphins (8-5) were coming off a 40-21 Thanksgiving Day win at Dallas, but had no success against Belichick's defensive scheme.

Nine of New England's 12 points came from the defense as linebacker Tedy Bruschi returned an interception five yards for a touchdown with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter and Jarvis Green tackled quarterback Jay Fiedler in the end zone for a safety with 1:13 remaining.

"We wanted to finish it (the division) today, on our own terms and get the hats and t-shirts in our lockers," Bruschi said.

Covering Ricky Williams out of the backfield, Bruschi picked off a short pass by Fiedler at the Miami 5 and cruised into the end zone. Bruschi's touchdown prompted many of the fans to celebrate by flinging powdery snow into the wind. A Nor'easter dumped about 30 inches of snow in the Boston area from late Friday night, yet more than 45,738 fans showed up.

"We know rain, snow, hail or sleet, they're going to be here and they were here today in force," said Patriots cornerback Ty Law , who had an interception.

The only points mustered by either team's offense was a 29-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with 1:46 left in the first quarter.

Fiedler completed just 13-of-31 passes for 111 yards with two interceptions and a fumble and was sacked five times. The Patriots also held Williams to 68 yards on 25 carries.

"They got after us, they played hard and they played aggressive," said Fiedler. "As soon as we started getting together in the second half, we just stalled ourselves."

The closest the Dolphins came to scoring was late in the third quarter when they had a 3rd-and-3 at the New England 10. But Rodney Harrison came in on a safety blitz and jarred the ball loose from Fiedler. After a scramble, linebacker Mike Vrabel recovered the fumble at the New England 30.

"We wanted to mix up our pressure and come at them from different angles and we did that," Harrison said. "I came in untouched from the left side and was able to hit Fiedler after he faked the handoff."

The Dolphins lost both meetings to New England this season and are tied with Denver for the second wild-card spot, one game behind Tennessee.

"What I told the players is it's obvious the division title is over, but our ultimate goal is still attainable," said Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt. "We just have to go about it a different way to get there. Today, we just didn't block consistently enough."


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