December 9th of 2018 still goes down, as the most incredible finish for a Miami Dolphins game, ever. And, as the Patriots get ready to play in Super Bowl 53, it’s still a topic for their current defensive play caller, who’s about to become Miami’s head coach after the game is played.
Brian Flores met with the media during the NFL’s “Opening Night” media festivities in downtown Atlanta, and talked on numerous subjects. However, when the Q&A turned to the Dolphins crazy double-lateral play with no time left that resulted in a Kenyan Drake TD to beat New England 34 – 33, our F.F.I. interest piqued, even more.
Miami Herald beat writer Armando Salguero was there with Flores, as he answered questions, including about that fateful final play against his Pats defense:
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) January 29, 2019
It was interesting to hear another reporter ask Flores to confirm, whether he had apologized to the team for his defensive scheme on the final play that gave up the “goofy” TD.
“I would say that game…It was a tough one for us. I think we grew a lot from that game. I think we learned a lot from that game. I think it made us a better ball club.” Flores continued, “But, again, that’s in the past….. Plus, I’d say my conversations with my players are private. I try to keep it that way. That’s how you build trust. But, at the same time, we kinda put that one behind us, and we’re really locked in on the Rams.”
Two important points on the “Miami Miracle” from New England’s standpoint:
One, the only way that defensive formation, that included tight end Rob Gronkowski standing back around the goal line as a defender was allowed, was because Bill Belichick signed off on it and they had practiced it. Guaranteed.
And point two: the Patriots clearly had a couple of opportunities long before Drake got near the goal-line to make plays on either Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker or Drake, as the ball was being a lateraled near midfield, etc.
In any event, it’s an embarrassing play for the Patriots players and for the coaching staff, as they gave away a game that could have ultimately costed them a bye in the opening round and potentially more.
New England went on to lose the following week to the Steelers, and it looked like that even if they won the division that they would be playing on the road early in the playoffs. And the crazy loss to the Dolphins, coupled with the Steelers loss, basically kept New England from being able to host the AFC Championship Game.
They overcame that issue with a tremendous 4th quarter and overtime performance to beat Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium in the title game and make the Super Bowl.
Still it’s a juicy topic for fans of the Dolphins, as Flores is about to become their coach after this game. And, by the way, he predictably continued to skirt around questions about that dynamic on Monday night.
He repeated that he is focused only on helping New England win another championship, which would be their third during his tenure as a defensive assistant, if it happens.
And one more point that is mostly serious but somewhat humorous: it’s very likely that if the game comes down to a final play with the Rams on offense and desperately needing a TD, you’ll see completely different defensive setup and more than likely without Gronkowski on the field trying to tackle people.
That’s the Patriots for you, they learn from things like that fateful day last month at Hard Rock Stadium.
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