The New England Patriots lost Sunday in the most dramatic of fashions when the Miami Dolphins successfully converted a double-lateral pass play to score a 69-yard touchdown with time running out.
The play raised an obvious question.
How did that happen?
It was a desperate play for the Dolphins often attempted in the NFL but rarely converted. To see it happen against a Bill Belichick-coached team was shocking.
Belichick takes the blame
Almost as shocking Monday was Belichick’s candor when discussing the play, in which he took the blame.
“It starts with me,” Belichick told reporters. “We have to play better situational football. We’ll work to try to achieve that.”
Why was Gronkowski on the field?
Up 33-28 with seven seconds remaining, the Patriots were set up in a Hail Mary defense that had tight end Rob Gronkowski on the field to defend the end zone.
Kenyan Drake — who took a lateral from DeVante Parker, who took a lateral from Kenny Stills after a pass from Ryan Tannehill — easily ran past a flat-footed Gronkowski on the end of the play as the last line of defense before the end zone.
With the Dolphins starting the play on their own 31-yard-line, there were questions about why Gronkowski was on the field to begin with. A Hail Mary from that distance would be a stretch for Patrick Mahomes, much less Tannehill.
Tannehill has a good arm, but 69-plus yards is asking too much.
Belichick anticipated a deep pass
Belichick explained his reasoning.
“It was a little too far to get to the end zone, but certainly a deep pass in that situation is a possibility,” Belichick said. “I wouldn’t rule that out.”
It was a rare tactical error from one of the game’s great strategists. It’s refreshing to hear Belichick admit that he got this one wrong.
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