Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke did not say those precise words Wednesday, but his message was unmistakeable.
Burke took his share (and perhaps more) of the blame for the Dolphins’ defense surrendering a game-winning drive in the final moments of Miami’s 30-20 loss to Tampa Bay.
“I am always critical of myself,” Burke told reporters. “I always examine myself first. A couple calls that I wish I treated differently.”
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Most specifically: He did not believe the Buccaneers would “start cutting it loose” when they got the ball back at their 25 with three minutes left.
On first-and-10, Ryan Fitzpatrick fired a pass up the seam to Mike Evans that went for 17 yards and put Tampa Bay in business.
Burke acknowledges he guessed wrong there.
“I was literally thinking screen there, to be honest with you,” Burke said. “There were a couple of calls that I wish, not that they were bad calls, per se, but my mindset was kind of a little different.”
It’s hard to see what more Burke could have done on Tampa Bay’s next big-gainer. The Dolphins had Fitzpatrick stuck in the backfield on second-and-10 from the Tampa 42, but let him escape the pocket and find Chris Godwin down the right sideline. Miami’s Cordrea Tankersley was in the area, but could not make the play, and the Buccaneers were on the plus side of the football.
But the backbreaker was the 24-yard completion to Godwin two snaps later. Reshad Jones was in zone coverage — he said the Dolphins were in Cover-3 — and Godwin ran right by him.
Burke said that he was particularly disappointed in that play because the pocket was collapsing on Fitzpatrick and if he had to hold the ball for another beat or two, the outcome might have been much different.
“We obviously had been battling all day and got momentum back a little bit when we scored, and I don’t think there was a man on the sideline that didn’t feel like if we got the ball to our offense, we’re going to be able to take it out,” Burke said. “I always examine myself and I’m always critical of that. I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t make the perfect call or make a call to win a couple of the downs. And that’s just what I told the team, the defense. We have to find a way to get a stop there. Somebody has to make that play.”
That final completion gave the Bucs first-and-10 at the Miami 20. There was roughly 100 seconds left and the Dolphins only had one timeout left. They had two options: Play defense and try to force a turnover or a missed chip-shot field goal; or let the Buccaneers score a touchdown and try to tie the game late.
They elected to play defense, and the Bucs kicked the field goal.
The let-them-score approach was never discussed, at least with Burke.