As Tom Brady prepared to take a snap, he shouted and pointed across the line, anticipating a blitz from Miami end Jason Taylor, who was lined up at middle linebacker.
Maybe Brady's teammates didn't hear him. They failed to block Taylor, who swooped up the middle untouched to force a harried, errant pass.
"We just couldn't do anything right," Brady said.
The roving Taylor led a disruptive defense that sacked Brady four times, forced him to fumble twice and held him to 78 yards passing. The Patriots had season lows in yards (189) and first downs (12) and lost three fumbles, giving them 11 turnovers in the last three games.
New England also committed nine penalties.
"To get a shutout against a team like that is huge for our defense," said safety Yeremiah Bell, who had nine tackles and forced a fumble by Brady.
The last Miami team to shut out New England was the perfect-season Dolphins of 1972.
By the second quarter, Brady's frustration was evident. When the Patriots were stopped for the fifth possession in a row in the opening half, he screamed at teammates as he trotted off the field, and again after he reached the bench.
"We saw him yelling at his linemen. It was a little uncharacteristic of Brady; he's usually so cool and calm in the pocket," Miami defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday said. "But we were able to fluster him a little bit."
Brady fell to 7-5 against the Dolphins, compared with 70-20 against the rest of the NFL.
The Patriots (9-4) failed to clinch a fourth consecutive AFC East title. They still lead the division by two games, but the loss ended a three-game win streak and hurt their chances of earning a first-round playoff bye.
The Dolphins are 6-7.