This coming weekend may be one of the more underrated weekends of the entire year. After all, it’s when Daylight Savings time officially ends (or starts...or whatever it is), which means it will no longer be pitch black outside when I leave work. Yeah, we all lose an hour of sleep for a few days, but it’s worth it. I haven’t seen the sun since late December when I went on vacation and I’m starting to disappear in every photo where the flash is on.
So what better way to kick off the weekend than continuing our countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2017
The list so far:
20. Back-to-back touchdowns before the half against the New York Jets help the Patriots secure the #1 Seed in the AFC.
I’m not overly thrilled to be presenting Number 19 - but them’s the breaks. They can’t all be happy memories.
19. A one-handed Dion Lewis grab is pretty much the only thing that goes right against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
Nobody really knows why, but every single year, almost without fail, the Patriots decide that they don’t really feel like playing football this week. Sure, they get dressed, take the field, and run some plays, but they look absolutely nothing like themselves and drop a game they really should have won. It has become so commonplace that the Patriots are going to drop a game to an inferior team that we’re now at the point where we don’t even get all that upset when it happens anymore. And when the Patriots traveled down to Miami for a Monday night showdown against the Dolphins, they had won eight straight and hadn’t really put up a massive stinker just yet. Miami had just beaten the Broncos to the tune of 35-9 to snap a five game losing skid, including a 35-17 loss at Foxboro just two weeks before. Miami, like Denver, was just one of those places where Tommy B has struggled historically, and while the Patriots were still favored in the contest, it was a divisional game, on the road, and the Patriots were just kind of due for a loss.
It didn’t take long for this game to go south, either. Miami’s first drive went 69 yards on 13 plays, eating up almost six minutes of the opening quarter and ending in a field goal. New England’s first drive? Three plays, 46 seconds, ending with a pick when Brady, looking for Cooks deep, was intercepted by Xavien Howard. Miami then went 34 yards on eight plays, eating up another five minutes of clock. The defense, as it had all year, gave up yards at will, then stiffened up close to the goal line to hold the Dolphins to a field goal. This game easily could have been 14-0 in the first quarter, but instead the Patriots trailed by less than a touchdown and needed to get something- anything - going.
The next New England drive gained two yards on three plays, and they punted again. the offense had possession of the ball for 1:48 for the entirety of the first quarter.
In fact, the Patriots would do absolutely nothing until almost halfway through the second quarter, after a few exchanged punts gave the Pats the ball at the 49 yard line courtesy of an 11 yard sack by Devin McCourty on a safety blitz the drive before. Finally, the Patriots had some field position and the chance to wake the hell up. And wake up they did - kind of. The drive ended in a touchdown, a Rex Burkhead three yard rush to give the Patriots what would end up being their only lead of the entire game. But an early false start penalty to start the drive had all signs pointing to another goose-egg for this posession.
However, on 2nd and 7, Tommy B came out in shotgun with Cooks lined up alone on the right and Dion Lewis in the backfield. Dwayne Allen was lined up as the near-side slot receiver on the left, with Danny Amendola flanking him and fullback James Develin lined up out wide as a decoy receiver. The play looked to be a designed slant to Cooks, with the opposite side receivers running clearout routes to give him some space, but the Dolphins linebackers cluttered the medial backfield and Cooks was bumped at the line. At the same time, a beautifully timed linebacker blitz right up the middle and completely unblocked forced Tommy B to get it out of his hands early. He was able to float it up and over the secondary, where a sprinting Dion Lewis was able to haul it in with one hand and pick up 20 yards. It looked like Lewis didn’t even know the pass was coming, as he wasn’t the intended target on the play and Brady’s release was premature. And to be honest, I don’t know for certain if Tommy B was actually trying to hit Lewis or just attempting to throw it away. Either way, Lewis made the grab, picked up some much needed yards, and the drive continued.
Another Pass Interference call got the Patriots down to the three, and Burkhead punched it in from there. It was a largely unspectacular drive to highlight a largely unspectacular night, and this catch was more or less the only good thing that happened all game. The Patriots would only end up losing the game 27-20, but it really wasn’t that close. Jay Cutler - Jay freaking Cutler - had a field day with rollouts and shallow crosses, and it was just one of those games you want to forget almost immediately after it’s over.
So why is it on here? Well, for one thing, it was a pretty sweet catch and play by Lewis. Running backs aren’t supposed to make one-handed grabs, and Lewis seems to be good for at least one or two of those a year (I’m really going to miss that guy). Also, I always try to put at least a few moments on this list that came on the heels of a loss, as this series is meant to serve as a snapshot of the season as a whole. So I figured I’d get this one out of the way early so we can focus on happier times.
But in case you’re feeling a little masochistic today, you can relive the game highlights here.