FOXBORO -- Late-game laterals have not been kind to the New England Patriots. Everyone remembers what happened in Vegas last season, and it's hard to forget the Miami Dolphins upsetting New England with a walk-off lateral back in 2018.
Sunday night's Patriots-Dolphins clash at Gillette Stadium featured another late-game lateral, and this one also didn't end in New England's favor. With the Patriots looking to tie things up in a 24-17 game in the final minutes, they came up just short of keeping those comeback hopes alive.
Facing a fourth-and-4 from the Miami 33, quarterback Mac Jones threw a short pass to tight end Mike Gesicki. Aware that he was short of the line to gain when he got stood up by a Miami defender, Gesicki found a way to keep the play -- and New England's hopes -- alive.
Gesicki lateraled the ball back to lineman Cole Strange, who made a nice spinning move to collect the ball. He then pushed forward with all of his 6-foot-5, 310-pound frame, and initially, it was ruled that Strange had gained enough for the first down.
But the Replay Official took a long look at the play after the call on the field, and ruled that Strange was short of the first-down line. Instead of the drive continuing, the Patriots turned it over on downs and all the Dolphins had to do was kill the final 51 seconds to escape Foxboro with a win.
Bill Belichick didn't have much to say about the play or the review after the game, telling reporters to talk to the officials. Both Gesicki and Strange believed that the offensive lineman had enough to move the chains for the Patriots.
"I caught the ball, felt like came back to it so I had a feeling I was short," Gesicki recalled, adding that the Miami sideline was cheering that he was short of the line. "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, which turned out to be Cole," added Gesicki. "I thought we had it, but unfortunately, we didn't."
Strange, playing in his first game of the season, couldn't recall the last time that he caught a ball in a game.
"I just kinda caught it and ran forward," he said. "I didn't make a first down, so that's all there is to it."
Instead of a potentially exciting finish over the final minute, the Pats could only watch as Miami burned the clock and walked off the field victorious.
"It's something we have to learn from," said Gesicki.
That was the theme among the Patriots after the team fell to 0-2 on the season. There is a lot to correct, but they remain confident that the corrections will be made.
"We have a lot of resiliency and a lot of heart, a lot of hard workers. Everyone is walking out with their head high knowing we're going to come back and work hard tomorrow," said Gesicki. "We have a lot of football left. A lot of football."
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