I’ll be spending the rest of my life trying to find the answer to that question. It makes no sense. And to be honest, I would be even more stunned by it if it happened anywhere other than… Miami.
Remember a few days ago when I wrote the annual “House of Horrors” column? Almost right on cue, the Dolphins pulled off the Miami Miracle, defeating the Patriots 34-33 at Hard Rock Stadium. That makes five losses in the last six trips to Miami for the Pats. If that isn’t a house of horrors, then I don’t know what it.
But this particular trip to Miami was historically bad. Bill Belichick has been coaching the Patriots since 2000, and on Dec. 9, 2018, he finally hit his lowest point with this team. We’ve spent years talking about how Belichick is the greatest football coach of all time. Yet, on Sunday, during that final play of the game, Belichick looked like just the other bonehead coaches spread around the NFL.
It’s not even really a big deal that the Patriots lost the game. These days, they almost always lose in Miami, and it never derails their season. They didn’t even drop down in the AFC playoff picture, as the Texans blew a golden opportunity by losing to the Colts at home. The gap widened between the No. 2 Patriots and the No. 1 Chiefs, but it was very unlikely they were going to chase down Kansas City for the top spot anyway.
All in all, no serious damage was done to the Patriots with this defeat.
But… it’s just the way that it happened. How could a professional football team allow something like that to happen? I mean, if the Patriots lose because a banged up Ryan Tannehill somehow finds the superhuman strength to throw a Hail Mary pass 70 yards down the field to win the game, then so be it. But Tannehill just threw a regular pass to Kenny Stills, and the Dolphins just lateraled the ball all the way down the field (a play that never, ever, ever, ever, ever actually works) and it was in the hands of about three or four different guys, and then it finally found Kenyan Drake who bolted to the end zone.
I’ll ask again, how does any football team allow something like that to happen?
The most bizarre part, however, is that Belichick decided to put Rob Gronkowski down field to defend against a Hail Mary pass. He’s done it plenty of times before, and it would’ve been all fine and well, you know, if there was actually even the slightest chance that Miami was going to throw a Hail Mary pass. Nobody has the arm strength to throw the ball 70-plus yards and actually make it into the end zone, and Tannehill wasn’t even thinking about trying something that insane.
Had a normal safety been on the field, he could’ve easily gotten to Drake before he scored. That’s not a play that a hulking tight end like Gronkowski is going to make. He tried to chase down Drake, but he stumbled and bumbled, even falling on his face as Drake cruised into the end zone, and didn’t even come close to stopping him.
And all of this happened after the Patriots all but had the game wrapped up. Stephen Gostkowski’s field goal with 16 seconds remaining should’ve been the end of it. Some people will say the Pats would’ve won if Gostkowski hadn’t missed an extra point and a field goal earlier in the game. They also would’ve won if they could’ve played defense like a football team that was even just semi competent.
Belichick is still great, and he always will be. But on the final play of this game, he looked absolutely clueless, as did the Patriots themselves. Five Super Bowl championships later, Belichick’s Patriots have finally made their dumbest mistake to date.
And because of it, I now get to write the annual “House of Horrors” column against next year. I can’t wait.
Welp -- here goes nothing. Welcome to the Pats Pulpit Live Postgame Show!Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 9, 2018