Since then, however, the Dolphins have put together a magnificent stretch of three straight games without yielding another touchdown. The last time they did that was under Don Shula in 1973, the second of back-to-back championship seasons.
The Dolphins on Sunday were dominated in time of possession and first downs but surrendered only three field goals in a 14-9 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
"We were on the field for a long time today, but guys stuck with it," Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell said after the game. "We made a lot of plays today when plays had to be made. Guys [were] stepping up to the plate, and that's what we expect to do. There are going to be times where we need those big plays and guys made them."
The Dolphins became the NFL's first team to not allow a touchdown in three consecutive games since 2000, when the Pittsburgh Steelers lasted five straight games and the Tennessee Titans held firm for three in a row.
Since the Patriots punched it in on their final drive, the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills and 49ers have failed to cross the goal line on 29 consecutive possessions. No defensive or special-teams TDs either.
A breakdown of how each drive has ended during Miami's stingy stretch:
- 13 punts
- 8 field goals
- 4 interceptions
- 2 turned over on downs
- 1 fumble
- 1 halftime
Good thing, too. Miami's offense can't be described as prolific lately. The Dolphins have scored 17 points or fewer in four of their past five games. The exception was when they scored 28 points yet still got blown out by the Patriots.
"We're following that saying 'You bend but don't break,'" Dolphins nose tackle Jason Ferguson said. "We get down there and we're bending but we're not giving up touchdowns.
"So as long as we're not giving up touchdowns, we're giving our offense a chance to win."