David Woodley, the Dolphins' unpopular quarterback, dived one yard for a touchdown and passed four yards to halfback Eddie Hill for another to lead Miami into first place in the AFC East with a 24-14 victory over the New England Patriots today.
Miami (9-4-1) leads second-place Buffalo, which defeated San Diego, by a half-game, and plays the Bills here in two weeks.
Hill's reception, with 56 seconds left in the third period, broke a 14-14 tie and gave Woodley his first scoring pass in five games.
Woodley was booed loudly as he lined up on third and 13 at his 30-yard line on the crucial series. He moved the team to the Patriot five, primarily on passes to Jimmy Cefalo.
On third down, Woodley tried to pass, but couldn't find any open receivers in the end zone. He dumped off the ball to Hill behind the line, and Hill bounced off three defenders on the five before scoring.
"After the first guy hit me," Hill said, "I started to look for somewhere to go. I didn't stop to look for the truck that hit me. I just saw the end zone and I said, 'Get in there.' "
Tony Nathan of Miami gained 119 yards on 17 carries for the first 100-yard game in his three-year professional career. He ran nine and 22 yards to set up Uwe von Schamann's 32-yard field goal with 10:31 left.
Andra Franklin gained 52 yards on 16 carries to give him 622 rushing yards this season, one more than the Dolphin rookie record of Jim Kiick.
The Dolphins played without their leading receiver, Duriel Harris, who injured his knee spiking the ball after catching the game-tying touchdown pass against the Eagles last Monday.