A lateral play. A play that almost never works. The Tennessee Titans shocked the Buffalo Bills in 2000 with the Music City Miracle and, on December 9, 2018, another AFC East team went into the books as being shocked with a play that almost never works.
The New England Patriots went into Miami being 1-4 in their last five games played at Hard Rock Stadium and it looked like they would finally taste victory after poor performances in recent years. Tom Brady looked unstoppable in the first half and Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman looked refreshed and ready to go… too bad the defense couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
New England’s defense allowed 412 yards of offense and 69 of them could have easily been prevented. With 7 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts, Miami lines up for a miracle play from their own 31-yard line and their prayers were answered. Ryan Tannehill completes a comeback route to Kenny Stills, who then laterals the ball to DeVante Parker, who then laterals the ball to Kenyan Drake, who then takes the ball 52 yards for a Dolphins touchdown to win the game 34-33. So who is the blame on New England’s side?
Let’s go back to the first drive of the game. New England takes the ball down with ease to score the first points of the game, yet Stephen Gostkowski misses the extra point. One point left on the field.
Fast forward to the end of the 2nd quarter. Albert McClellan blocks his second punt of the afternoon and New England takes over possession with 28 seconds left inside Miami’s 20-yard line with one timeout. They run 5 plays, gain 6 yards, and come away with no points on that drive. Tom Brady takes a sack on third down instead of throwing the ball away to stop the clock and that is what lead to New England not even scoring a field goal before half. We could say seven points left on the field, but let’s play worst case scenario and say three points.
Moving into the third quarter. New England drives down to Miami’s 24-yard line and the drive stalls from that point. On comes Stephen Gostkowski who proceeds to miss a 42-yard field goal, a distance most consider automatic for a kicker like Gostkowski. He misses, New England leaves another three points on the field.
Now to the last two drives of the game. New England wastes as much time as they could by drowning the clock all the way to 24 seconds before Gostkowski kicks through a chip shot to go up by five points. You all know what happens next with Miami but it is what happens on New England’s side that has the entire region questioning the coaching and the players.
First red flag. Rob Gronkowski was on the field, which means New England was expecting a Hail Mary down the field. Not to make any assumptions but I don’t think Ryan Tannehill can throw the ball 70+ yards in the air.
Second red flag. Devin McCourty, the team’s second leading tackler, and arguably best tackler in the secondary, was not on the field for the final play. Not something you normally see from any team.
Third red flag. The discipline by the defense. Miami had no timeouts and this was their final play of the game, barring a defensive penalty. First, Johnathan Jones had the opportunity to take a different angle and tackle Kenny Stills to end the game on his catch. Second, J.C Jackson stops his pursuit of Kenyan Drake where he could have pushed him out of bounds.
And third, Rob Gronkowski was the safety net. He is broken down and towards the end of his career. There is no reason for him to be back there on that play. Overall, New England left 7 points on the field, which would have meant this “Miami Miracle” would have never been possible in the first place.
By: Joe Zollo