With all of the cliches about achieving perfection from practice, sometimes the execution isn’t the same as the version on the drawing board.
The Dolphins knew their opponent in the New England Patriots, but early errors cost them a game that gave the visitors at Sun Life Stadium the division title after a 23-16 loss on Sunday.
“We try to do that every week,” Pats coach Bill Belichick said. “We try to take advantage of other teams’ mistakes.”
Unfortunate mistakes and uncharacteristic errors from the Dolphins’ special teams’ corps bolstered the Patriots’ ability to overcome a poor start to their own running game.
In the first quarter, on fourth-and-4, Brandon Fields botched a punt that led to an easy five-play, 12-yard drive for the Patriots’ first touchdown.
“We can’t make excuses; we made too many mistakes,” Joe Philbin said. “They made plays when they had to. It was a team loss.”
Extending a drive
Jimmy Wilson fell victim to a 15-yard roughing-the-kicker penalty that extended the New England drive in the second quarter. His misread of the play, leaving his feet with a late jump led — like Fields’ error — to a Pats’ touchdown.
“I’m sick about that,” Wilson said. “We had them dialed up, something we’d been practicing all week.”
No more than two minutes later, and another hindrance for Miami’s chances to turn the game around, when a defensive pass interference was flagged on Dolphins’ safety Reshad Jones.
“It definitely hurt. It could have helped us do what we needed to do and close out the game,” Jones said. “It was pretty much a snapshot of the entire game being so close, but [we] still didn’t do enough to get the win.”
Revived run game
After halftime, it was a clash of interests. New England recognized its need to up the running game, while Miami couldn’t pull through offensively to top a re-energized Patriots front line.
“You’ve got to live by experience.We had two quarters left; we had a chance to win,” Wilson said about the mentality of the team. “We just have to go back and see what happened in the film and learn from it.’’
The Patriots head home with their championship t-shirts, and it’s back to the drawing board for the Dolphins, who can still vie for a wild-card berth.