Curran: Patriots flat out got beat by Dolphins

Curran: Patriots flat out got beat by Dolphins
December 16, 2013, 12:15 am
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MIAMI GARDENS – Some games you lose. Some games you just get beat.
 
Sunday, the Patriots got beat by the Dolphins. They didn’t seem to agree.
 
Tom Brady in particular. Given the choice between dissecting a loss that saw the Patriots blow a chance to gain the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs or blowing out of his press conference before he blew up, Brady blew out.
 
But not before stating that the Patriots had “plenty of (poopy) plays.”
 
Here’s the ironic thing to me: Against Denver and Carolina, the Patriots did plenty of things to get themselves beat. Fumbles. Picks. Sacks. Same thing with Houston, Miami 1.0 and Cleveland.
 
Despite that, they won four of those given games and deserved a shot at the 1 with no time left to try and beat Carolina (they got Cleted in that one).
 
This time? They got beat. They didn’t beat themselves. They had the good start they hadn’t been able to get, jumping ahead 10-0. The Dolphins snapped a field goal attempt off the holder’s face. They didn’t have a turnover until the game’s final play.
 
Really, the most egregious plays were a missed 48-yarder, a kickoff out of bounds, a play on which a $60 million wide receiver beat a journeyman corner and another where a 5-9 running back beat a 270-pound linebacker.
 
For sins committed on an NFL Sunday, those can’t rank very highly.
 
On the road in the heat against a team that KNEW it let the Patriots off the hook in October, the Patriots got outplayed.
 
They weren’t the better team on paper or on the field and – this week – no amount of Brady magic and want-to could change that. Although it nearly did. Without Rob Gronkowski and with Logan Mankins finishing the day at left tackle and some fella named Josh Kline playing left guard, they nearly did.
 
But the Dolphins – who’ve learned a few things about adversity this season – hung on by a cuticle.
 
The absence of Gronkowski was as glaring in this one as it was during his other absences when it got down to make-a-play time. Four trips to the red zone. One touchdown.
 
Their first drive of the day was a masterpiece until they got to the Miami 10. Then three throws left them at the Dolphins 4 and they had to kick a field goal. Should they have run on second-and-goal from the 4? In hindsight, one can make the case. But the threat of Gronkowski as a pass-catcher changes the way defenses can defend down there. And his absence as a blocker makes it harder to run.
 
They got to the Miami 30 in the third quarter and Brady – who’s usually fanatical about getting his feet set before he throws – rushed a couple and Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal.
 
First-and-10 in the fourth at the Miami 13 and Brady missed Vereen when he was open and nearly got picked when Brady pulled the trigger late. They got 8 yards from LeGarrette Blount but a well-timed blitz on third-and-2 from the 5 forced Brady to throw way before he wanted to in order to avoid decapitation and the Patriots again settled for three.
 
Defensively, there were certainly plays to be made. The fourth-and-6 conversion to Charles Clay was a crusher in the fourth. Dane Fletcher’s mugging of tight end Dion Sims on a third-and-4 inside the 10 set up a touchdown.
 
But the Patriots played a defense that asked Ryan Tannehill if he could make plays and Tannehill did. Repeatedly.
 
I get the Patriots mindset. Accepting that you got beat is not acceptable. They are indignant when they lose.
 
“We had plenty of chances to win,” said Logan Mankins. “I felt like we were always moving the ball until a certain point where then we wouldn’t make any plays or we’d make a mistake that would kill the drive. So it was just one of those days where you get going and then either they’d stop you or you stopped yourself.  I kind of felt like we were stopping ourselves today. I’m not a hundred percent sure on that but that’s what it felt like to me.”
 
To me, it looked like a team that didn’t have the horses unable to beat a team that did. Even with their show pony getting them close enough to nearly pull it out, they couldn’t.
 
Some of the 10 wins the Patriots earned came because other teams were complicit in their own demise. This time, the Dolphins didn’t cooperate.