FOXBOROUGH — There’s something about the Patriots, the Dolphins, and fourth-quarter laterals.
On Sunday night at Gillette, a late lateral attempt on a fourth-down play from Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki to offensive lineman Cole Strange wasn’t enough to pick up a first down, leaving New England on the short end of a 24-17 score.
With the Patriots facing fourth and 4 at the Dolphins’ 33-yard line and a minute to go, Jones completed a short pass to Gesicki. The Patriots tight end was immediately wrapped up short of a first down by Miami’s Bradley Chubb.
But Gesicki had other plans.
“I caught the ball, I felt like came back to it,” Gesicki said. “I had a feeling I was short. Also, I was on [the Miami] sideline, and I kind of heard them cheering, as if it was short. Right then and there, I was like, ‘I can’t go down with the ball.’ I knew I could toss it back to somebody. I saw one of the biggest people on the field in our offensive linemen. It turned out to be Cole.”
In a last-ditch effort to prevent a turnover on downs, Gesicki shoveled the football to Strange. Strange kept his legs churning forward, but was brought down short of the sticks.
“I caught it, ran it,” Strange said. “And didn’t get it. It’s kind of all there is to it.”
“I thought we had it,” Gesicki said, “but, unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Strange said he didn’t remember the last time he caught a football in a game. He also said he didn’t necessarily call for the ball.
“I just kind of caught it and ran forward,” he said. “I didn’t make a first down, so that’s all there is to it.”
“You should talk to the officials,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked about the ruling on the play.
It was the first game of the year for Strange, who has been hobbled by a knee injury since the early days of training camp.
“Some good, some bad. Better as I went along. But too many mistakes,” Strange assessed his performance..
It was one of a series of wild plays that defined Sunday’s game, several of which came up in New England’s favor. There was a dramatic blocked field goal from Brenden Schooler and a big interception from rookie Christian Gonzalez, two second half plays that sparked optimism.
“Yeah, he timed it up – timed it up and hit it well,” Belichick said of Schooler’s play. “Made a good play, made a really good play on it.”
But in the end, they weren’t able to compound the momentum from each of those singular plays. They dropped to 0-2 on the season.
“You can’t hope. You can’t pray for anything to happen. You have to make it happen,” said safety Jabrill Peppers. “I’m tired of us digging ourselves in a hole and playing back and coming up short like this when we could just come out how we’re supposed to come out, across the board.
“It is what it is,” he added. “We made plays, but we didn’t make enough plays to win.”
Offensive line lacking
As expected, the Patriots were without offensive linemen Trent Brown and Sidy Sow, both of whom were inactive because of concussion issues. Cornerback Jonathan Jones (ankle) was also sidelined, while wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, who was on the injury report earlier in the week but was removed, was among the inactives. And defensive end Sam Roberts, cornerback Ameer Speed, and outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings were healthy scratches . . . Kenny Chesney was the celebrity bellringer, ascending to the deck near the top of the renovated lighthouse to do the honors prior to the contest. The 55-year-old singer, who has played Gillette Stadium several times, was on the New England sideline afterward and got plenty of handshakes from Patriots players.
More Patriots-Dolphins coverage
- Dan Shaughnessy: This one had the makings of a Strange finish, but instead we’re left to wonder what to make of these Patriots
- They’re the same old punchless Patriots, and other takeaways from 24-17 loss to Dolphins
- Dolphins 24, Patriots 17: New England drops to 0-2 for first time since 2001
- Another wild Patriots-Dolphins finish featuring a late lateral fails to go New England’s way
- Local firefighters resuscitate fan who suffered cardiac arrest at Gillette Stadium