Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake talks about the last-ditch hook-and-ladder play
The moment called for a miracle.
On Sunday, one arrived. And its name was “Boise.”
The Dolphins’ scenario Sunday:
Seven seconds left. 69 yards to go. Down five to New England. A touchdown or bust.
Too far for a Hail Mary. Time for the hook and ladder.
So Boise was the call, Adam Gase told his team on the sideline. What followed: the craziest, nuttiest, most thrilling, unexpected finish in Dolphins history.
A hook. Two laterals. A season-saving block. And a hapless Gronk.
Thanks, Boise. This spud’s for you.
Final score: Dolphins 34, Patriots 33.
But only because Gase ripped a page from Boise State’s 2007 Fiesta Bowl playbook. And it worked.
Ryan Tannehill threw to Kenny Stills. Who lateraled to DeVante Parker. Who flicked it to Kenyan Drake. Who broke a tackle, got a head of steam — and a timely block from Ted Larsen 40 yards downfield.
A few moves later, all that stood between Drake and the history books:
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was on the field to presumably knock down a would-be Hail Mary.
Gronk whiffed. Drake raced.
And the Dolphins celebrated like crazy in the end zone.
The Dolphins practice the play — dubbed Boise because that’s how the Boise State Broncos beat Oklahoma more than a decade ago — most every week. They did again Friday.
But most thought it was a fun gadget play with next to no chance of succeeding.
One Dolphins source said his team had a one-in-a-million shot to score from their own 31 with seven seconds left.
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
When did Drake, who took care of the final 50 yards himself, think that chance was real?
“When I got up to Gronk and I saw nobody else behind me, I knew I couldn’t get caught from behind and ‘Gronk’ was the only person in front of me so I had to get in the end zone.”
Yes, Gronk, the creaky tight end was the Patriots’ last line of defense.
“Bad, bad, bad” coaching, one Dolphin said.
Yes, Bill Belichick blundered Sunday.
Ryan Tannehill would have had to launch a 70 to 75-yard pass to reach the end zone.
“I don’t know where we were at but it was a long ways,” Tannehill said, when asked if could have thrown it that far.
Belichick should have known that too.
His mistake helped keep alive the Dolphins’ playoff hopes. They improved to 7-6, and are in a four-way tie for the AFC’s sixth seed. The Patriots fell to 9-4.
But in truth, Gase’s decision for the second time in three weeks to trust his defense over his offense almost cost the Dolphins their season.
First, it was in Indianapolis, running on third-and-10 in a tie game.
Then Sunday, history seemed to repeat itself.
With Tom Brady hot, the defense cold and the Dolphins down 2, Gase ordered up a punt on fourth-and-4 on the Dolphins’ 40 with four and a half minutes left.
He gave the ball back to Tom Brady.
And as he always does, Brady made him pay.
Minkah Fitzpatrick grabbed Josh Gordon’s arm on a deep pass down the left sideline, drawing an obvious pass interference call inside the 10. That set up a 32-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
Brady finished 27 of 43 for 358 yards and three touchdowns.
All look lost. Then the play of the decade. The Dolphins beat the Patriots at home for the fifth time in six years.
The Patriots should have had a lead, arguably a big one, in the fourth quarter. Gostkowski missed both an extra point and a 42-yard field goal, plus Brady allowed himself to get sacked with a running clock and no timeouts deep in Dolphins territory on the final play of the first half. That’s seven points right there left on the field.
But the Dolphins had their fare share of mess-ups too.
They had two punts blocked. And Stills inexplicably slid a yard short of the sticks on a Dolphins fourth-quarter drive.
As for the first half, it was flat-out bonkers.
Four hundred and 63 yards.
Twenty-seven first downs.
And an injured Tannehill.
The Dolphins’ quarterback rolled his ankle after getting his foot stepped on. But the X-rays were negative and he missed all of one play — the Dolphins’ last of the first half — before returning after halftime.
He was on the field for the entire second half, including the play Stills dubbed the “Miami Miracle.”
“I like that,” Stills said, “but it means nothing if we don’t finish the season strong and find our way into the playoffs.”
The fact that we’re even talking about playoffs at this point is nuts.
Actually, it’s downright miraculous.