Biopsy of a collapse
- From ESPN's web site...
Miami Collapse Point No. 1: Leading by three, the Marine Mammals had first
down on their 4-yard line with 2:42 remaining in regulation and the home
crowd of the defending champion Patriots making so much noise you couldn't
have heard an F14 catapulted off an aircraft carrier. The Dolphins spent an
entire year preparing for exactly this moment -- when you must power-run in
bad weather late in the year. Ricky Williams, acquired to give the Dolphins
that ability, to that point in the game had carried for 177 yards. What did
Miami do? Incompletion, incompletion, scramble on a busted pass, punt.
Dave Wannstedt said afterward that he knew the Patriots would be crowding
the line and didn't want Williams stuffed for no gain; it's a fair concern.
But the two incompletions stopped the clock, allowing New England time to
get into position for the last-minute field goal that forced overtime. Even
if Williams had simply run up the middle for no gain for three straight
plays, the Patriots would either have expended their time-outs, or gotten
the ball back with most of the clock expired. Ye gods.
Miami Collapse Point No. 2: The kicking-game errors that catch the eyes of
sports bobbleheads are blocked kicks, missed figgies or fumbled returns. But
subtler events can be killers, too. The reason the Marine Mammals were mired
on their 4 with 2:42 to play was that return man Travis Minor spent several
crucial seconds staring at a New England kickoff, doing nothing. Miami had
its return team up, in case of an onside; New England kicked away. The ball
bounced around close to the goal line and Minor seemed confused about
whether it was a punt -- returners are coached never to touch punts inside
the 10 -- or a kickoff, a live ball. As Pats descended to dive on the live
ball, Minor finally woke up and fielded it, but was buried at his 4. Had he
simply fielded the ball like any normal kickoff, the Dolphins would not have
been mired near their goal line.
Dave Wannstedt ponders the many reasons for Miami's collapse.
Then, following the perplexing all-passing series, Miami punted from its 11
with 2:18 remaining in regulation. Mark Royals shanked a hideous 23-yard
punt, putting New England in business at the Mammals' 34. After the figgie
that forced a fifth session, the Pats won the toss. Olindo Mare kicked off
out of bounds, putting New England in business at its 40. Combined, these
kicking-game blunders handed the Patriots about 50 yards of field position
in the game's closing moments, about the same as New England itself gained.
Miami Collapse Point No. 3: The Mammals missed the playoffs when their
defense, ranked third in the league, could not hold fourth-quarter leads in
consecutive weeks, including an 11-point lead with three minutes to play
against New England.
Even though it grates on every fiber of my being to see the freakin' New York Jets in this thing, after Jason Taylor's little discussion with Brady after the INT, it does warm my cold heart to read stuff like this. Imagine that you're the Teal HC. You have the best D in the division. You have the best RB in all FOOTBALL. Your QB commits no turn overs (thanks to Milloy). You're leading by more than a TD and a FG with just a couple minutes to go. And yet, you find a way to lose the game. And lose the division. And go home for the playoffs.
-philw (at least there's no 62-7 embarrassment)