FOXBORO — For some of the Dolphins players, it’s getting a little old watching the Patriots dance their way into the playoffs each year, while they sit on the outside looking in.
The Patriots earned the No. 2 overall seed in the AFC with a 28-0 drubbing of the Dolphins in Foxboro on Sunday and a Texans loss to the Colts, which means a first-round bye is upcoming. The next time the Patriots take the field, they will play host to either the Texans, Ravens or Colts on the weekend of Jan. 12-13.
The Dolphins head back to South Florida empty-handed, with a 7-9 overall record and a shutout in the final regular-season game of 2012.
Wide receiver Brian Hartline, when asked how badly he wants a winning record, seemed to sum up the season after Sunday’s beating perfectly.
‘Winning record? I want to be in the playoffs. I don’t care what it takes,’ he said.
For the Patriots, the road to the Super Bowl  becomes a little less busy with a free Wild Card weekend. With the additional week to prepare for one of three teams, they can take time to heal injuries and get some rest.
Rookie Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Patriots make some headway into the playoffs.
‘You know, they are a good team,’ he said. ‘That’s the reason they got a first-round bye and will probably do some damage in the playoffs. ‘¦ They are a talented unit and they were just doing a good job of making plays [today].’
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson filled in today for an injured Nolan Carroll  in the Dolphins defensive backfield. He said that, as far as game planning is concerned, the Patriots aren’t going to roll out anything tricky. They will stick to what they know and try to beat teams through the air and on the ground.
‘They are not going to make mistakes,’ Patterson said. ‘They are going to try and run the ball and throw high percentage passes. They control the passing game and that was nothing we hadn’t seen coming in. They are all about execution. They don’t do anything different.’
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin reiterated Patterson’s point on mistakes, or lack thereof, from the Patriots offense , and recognized that going into the playoffs, the team that makes the fewest mistakes has the best shot of winning.
Coming off back-to-back multi-interception weeks, Tom Brady  didn’t turn the ball over once against the Dolphins.
‘You know, when you play a team like New England that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, you can’t give the ball away a couple times,’ Philbin said.
Come Saturday, if the Texans defeat the Bengals, then the Patriots will know their opponent for the AFC divisional round. If the Bengals win, the Patriots will host the winner of the Ravens-Colts game on Sunday.