If today’s Miami Dolphins game against the New England Patriots was a book, it would have been a four-chapter tragedy that features four short stories; each completely different than the chapter that preceded it. The setting of this book, which we’ll call “The Tale of Two Halves,” takes place at Gillette Stadium, home of the mighty Patriots who are known to protect their land, especially when returning home after defeats abroad.
The first half featured a Miami offensive line that allowed no sacks, maintained run blocking assignments, and gave time when it was needed for their young quarterback Ryan Tannehill to make the right decisions with the football. The Dolphins, a young and hungry football team, traveled to Gillette to battle for AFC East bragging rights and to make the statement that they are a force to be reckoned with.
In the beginning of this tale, they came out surprisingly crisp especially on defense, as Tom Brady was intercepted by Dimitri Patterson on his first pass attempt. The Dolphins somehow were able to not just contain the Patriots’ offense; they didn’t let it do anything. Brady amassed all of 25 passing yards in the first half, his fewest in a half since 2003, and the Dolphins went into the locker room up 17-3.
The something changed. Suddenly, the Patriots grew weary of the Dolphins dictating the flow of the game and decided they were going to start doing what they wanted to do instead of what the Dolphins wanted to do. After Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 46-yard field goal, the Patriots scored two touchdowns in one minute and 46 seconds, the second coming off of the first sack the offensive line allowed all day — which of course was also a fumble inside Miami territory.
In an instant, the game was tied and all of the momentum was with the Patriots. The Patriots scored 17 points in the third quarter when they had not scored a touchdown in the third quarter in any of their previous seven games this season. Things were not looking good for the Dolphins.
Late in the game, when Miami needed a hero there was none to be found. Suddenly, the line couldn’t block and when they were able to give Tannehill some time, he threw an interception. In all seriousness, it was an incredible tip-drill style play that is worth seeing if you haven’t.
The end of this tragedy features a questionable call against Olivier Vernon when he tried to recover a fumble off of a sack on Brady. The referees accused Vernon of ‘illegal batting of the ball’, which of course gave possession back to the home team and led to a Steven Ridley touchdown — the last of the 24 unanswered points scored by the Patriots and in the game.
This collection of short stories can be narrowed down to that near two-minute stretch that featured 14 Patriot points which erased the 17-3 lead Miami came out of halftime with. From that point forward, bad calls or not, the Dolphins blew the game. They had their opportunity to get the back on track and to take advantage of the most beatable Patriots team we have seen in some time, and they blew it. There’s no happy ending here.