The Hot List: Struggles on South Beach
|10.02.10 at 11:14 am ET|
There have been positive moments, but since 2001, when Tom Brady and the Patriots have taken their talents to South Beach more often than not they’ve come away with a memorable loss. With the Patriots headed for Miami for another Monday night clash with their AFC East rivals, this edition of The Hot List examines the five most indelible defeats New England has suffered in Miami since Brady and Bill Belichick took control of the Patriots.
5) Oct. 6, 2002 ‘ Miami 26, Patriots 13: The back end of a humbling two-game stretch ‘ which included a nasty loss to the Chargers in San Diego ‘ that proved to the young and feisty Patriots they weren’t as good as they thought they were.
Prior to this game, four ex-Dolphins playing in New England (including linebacker Larry Izzo and quarterback Damon Huard) took pictures of themselves with their Super Bowl XXXVI rings on their middle fingers, which were extended for the camera. The picture showed up on the wall at the Dolphins’ practice facility, the players were fined, and wide receiver Oronde Gadsden said they used it to their ‘advantage’ after the win over New England.
Yes, that Joey Harrington. Harrington was the starting quarterback for the Dolphins when the two teams met in December in Miami. In that one, New England was dominated by the trio of Harrington, Jason Taylor and Sammy Morris: Taylor had nine tackles and a sack, Morris rushed for 123 yards and Harrington guided a pair of second-half touchdown drives, while Miami punter Donnie Jones was able to pin the Patriots inside their own 5-yard line on three occasions. Meanwhile the Patriots had just 90 total passing yards and lost three fumbles. (Brady was 12-for-25 passing for 78 yards and a 55.1 passer rating.)
It would be the last regular-season loss the Patriots would suffer ‘ their next defeat came in the infamous AFC Championship Game against the Colts in Indianapolis.
3) Dec. 6, 2009 ‘ Miami 22, Patriots 21: The game was singular microcosm of the road woes that have hobbled the Patriots since the start of the 2009 season: good first half, bad second half littered with ill-timed breakdowns on both sides of the ball that, in the end, resulted a road defeat.
In this one, Brady and the Patriots took a 14-10 lead at halftime, but couldn’t put the thing away down the stretch. Meanwhile, Miami quarterback Chad Henne took advantage, riddling the New England pass defense for a career-high 335 yards. The Dolphins’ signal-caller engineered a 51-yard drive for the winning field goal with 1:02 left by going back to the same stuff over and over again … because the Patriots’ defense was simply powerless to stop it.
‘We ran a lot of repeated plays out there today, things that he really likes, things that he really likes,’ Miami coach Tony Sparano said of Henne. ‘I wanted to make sure that we’re giving him what he likes out there. You guys know ‘ he puts a list together and gives it to us. Well, these things were on that list. Credit [offensive coordinator] Dan Henning, but we just kept running them over and over again, and made some yards out of it.’
Brady finished 19-for-29 for 352 yards and two long touchdowns, but also threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, including a late pick by Miami linebacker Channing Crowder at the Patriots 40 with 35 seconds left.
2) Oct. 7, 2001 ‘ Miami 30, Patriots 10: A seminal game in the history of the 2001 Patriots. It remains one of the worst performances of Brady’s career ‘ 86 passing yards, zero touchdown passes, four sacks ‘ and put the brakes on some of the exuberance around the team after the win over the Colts the previous week. (Incidentally, this was the first time Matt Light faced Jason Taylor. Stop me if you’ve heard this before ‘ Taylor finished with a sack.)
But the defeat also led to a memorable moment for that team when Belichick took the team out behind Foxboro Stadium where they collectively buried the football, symbolically putting the game behind them. They lost just two more games the rest of the season.
1) Dec. 20, 2004 ‘ Miami 29, Patriots 28: The stone-cold stunner. New England entered this game 12-1, going up a Dolphins team that was 2-11 and an absolute mess. But Miami ‘ thanks in large part to 226 return yards from Wes Welker ‘ shocked the Patriots for the biggest regular-season upset of the Belichick Era.
While Welker was big, this loss belonged to Brady. He tied a career-high with four interceptions, and his fourth quarter line was just as ugly as it appears (3-for-6 for 19 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions). He also had arguably the worst, most ill-advised play of his professional career: With less than two minutes left and New England protecting a 28-23 lead, Brady and the offense faced a third-and-9 from their own 21. Brady was pressured by Taylor and tried to flip the ball as he was falling down to his right to tight end Daniel Graham. The pass was intercepted by Dolphins’ linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo, leading to Miami’s go-ahead touchdown on the ensuing drive.
This would be the last loss of the season for the Patriots, who would go on to beat the Eagles less than two months later in Super Bowl XXXIX for their third title in four years.