Let's talk about the Patriots poor coaching to close out the first half. The Patriots received a punt with 40 seconds left in the first half with three time outs. They ended up letting the Dolphins score a touchdown.
This is entirely on the coaching.
Starting their drive on the 15 yard line, the Patriots ran the ball three times with Shane Vereen and picked 2 yards. They forced the Dolphins to use all three of their time outs, but the Patriots were forced to punt. It's clear the Patriots weren't actively attempting to gain yardage to try for a field goal; they wanted to bleed the clock.
It's one thing to try and escape the horrible first half by the Patriots, but this is probably the only part where the Dolphins coaches got the better of Bill Belichick. Once the Patriots saw Miami calling their time outs, the Patriots should have reacted by actively trying to get a first down.
Not by passing, but by using any running back that's more of a danger than Vereen up the gut, when the Dolphins knew the run was coming. Why not LeGarrette Blount? Why not Jonas Gray? Instead, they went with the one back who is running on a bad ankle. That's bad coaching.
So the Patriots were forced to punt and gave the ball back to the Dolphins with 11 seconds on the clock. Of course, rookie sensation Jarvis Landry returned the kick 32 yards back to the Patriots 32 yard line, well within field goal range.
Miami started their drive in position for a 49 yard field goal attempt. They could try one play, but they had zero time outs. They were either going to try for a home run; they couldn't dunk the ball slightly down the field, or they'd miss the chance for any points at all.
The Patriots should have known this. There was no need defend the shallow plays, and especially no need to designate the resource of Darrelle Revis to monitor slot receiver Jarvis Landry. Instead, they played rookie Malcolm Butler in coverage of Mike Wallace. One play later, the refs gave the Dolphins a touchdown.
The coaches botched the clock management, while the players poorly executed- but the coaches definitely didn't put the players in the situation to succeed.
Why would you -not- put Revis on Wallace and Ryan on Landry? The big play TD is the -only- play you absolutely can't give up.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) December 14, 2014
There's no excuse for putting Wallace, the Dolphins big play threat, with Malcolm Butler in coverage. Absolutely none. By putting Revis in coverage of Landry, there is a deterrence to throw in his direction- but he's not a home run receiver. Worst case with Landry is that he picks up some yards and runs out of bounds. He's not an end zone threat.
Wallace, on the other hand, absolutely is. A big throw to Wallace is literally the worst play the Patriots could have given up in that scenario and by putting Butler on Wallace, they enticed Ryan Tannehill to throw in that direction. Why wouldn't the coaching staff put Revis in coverage of Wallace for that play?
The coaching staff needed a halftime adjustment just as badly as Tom Brady, and they clearly took advantage. But this is a clear case of poor situational football that you can be certain Bill Belichick and company will review this week.