With 20 seconds remaining in the game, the New England Patriots had a fourth and goal from the 4 yard-line and a 2-point lead. The Dolphins had no timeouts remaining. The Patriots chose to kick the field goal and take a 5-point lead, which led to a kickoff that gave the Dolphins the ball at the 31 yard-line and culminated in the Miami Miracle. The Breakout Live team debates whether the Patriots should have opted to go for the touchdown on fourth down that close to the end zone, knowing that even if they failed the Dolphins would have had their backs to the goal line with no timeouts.
Senior News & Fantasy Editor
Belichick must really have no faith in his defense if he felt he needed to kick the FG so a touchdown couldn’t beat him.
I would’ve gone for it. A touchdown and an XP (no guarantee with Gostkowski who missed one already) seals it air tight. A turnover on downs leaves Tannehill throwing from his own end zone with 15 seconds or so on the clock and we never likely see Gronk playing safety on the fateful final play.
George “Cannonball” West
Kicking the field goal to go up 5 was the right decision by Bill Belichick, but installing a prevent defense that included tight end Rob Gronkowski on it was absolutely the incorrect decision. That miraculous play for Miami would have worked from any yard line against the soft, poor tackling, and (did I mention?) with a tight end as the last line of defense!
Against that style defense, Kenyan Drake or any skill player of the Dolphins would have run and run until he hit pay dirt. New England should have played their regular base zone pass defense and the regular defensive personnel (NOT a tight end!) on that last effort, especially with a QB like Ryan Tannehill who doesn’t have the arm or heart to complete a 65-yard Hail Mary. The only play that could have worked was a hook and lateral-type play with multiple pitches. More often than not, prevent defense only prevents one thing: wins.
I was watching live and I didn’t agree with Belichick’s decision when he made it, and I certainly don’t agree with it now. When you are that close to the end zone with Tom Brady and have a chance to end the game, you do it. By going for it, you accomplish several things: you end the game with a touchdown, you burn precious seconds off the clock, and even if you don’t get the TD you put your opponents’ backs against the goal line with only about 15 seconds remaining.
The only downside of going for it is that you risk getting beaten by a field goal. But come on. A team backed up to their own goal line with no timeouts and 15 or so seconds remaining isn’t going to have time to get into field goal range. Their only option whether down 2 or 5 is to try for a miraculous TD, and that’s a whole lot harder in the shadow of your own goal posts than from the 31 yard-line. Analytics are your friend, Bill.
I’m shocked the Pats didn’t go for jugular in that situation. They’re so brash and so confident in everything they do (i.e. “The Patriot Way”), it was almost as if they were toying with Miami like a python with a mouse and daring them to find an escape. They should’ve sealed the deal right then and there with a TD attempt, especially with a Hall of Fame QB – best case, you score and the game’s over; worst case, you’ve got Miami pinned back against their goal line with almost no time left. What’s not to like?
Now, I will say that it was pretty satisfying to watch the Pats experience how the other half lives. I’m not a Patriots’ hater by any means, but sometimes the shoe is simply on the other foot – that’s life, baby. Plus, watching Gronk stumble and bumble all over himself trying to catch Kenyan Drake near the goal line had such poetry to it that I can’t help but find the whole thing delightful, from the play itself right down to the Pats giving their division rival a false sense of hope before they fall even harder than before.