Some 20 hours after the unbelievable finish that gave the Dolphins their thrilling victory against the New England Patriots, Head Coach Adam Gase revisited the play that made it happen.
Among other things, Gase talked about the near-flawless execution of the play, every player’s contribution to that play, and how it was that they ran that play instead of other last-second options.
“I think it just gives you a chance to get the ball into the hands of a dynamic guy in space and has the opportunity to try to hit one,” Gase said. “You throw a Hail Mary, you’ve got a guy trying to tip it and then hopefully it falls into somebody’s hands. It’s a long throw you’re trying to get off before you get sacked and a lot of bad things can happen. And you’re, what, 70 yards away from the end zone. He’s really got to put a lot into that one. I don’t know if he could have got it there. At least it gives you a chance. It gives you a chance almost like a kickoff return.”
Having a chance is one thing, but being able to score when anything else will end the game in a loss is quite different.
And that’s where the near-flawless execution comes in.
Given enough time to throw, Ryan Tannehill threw a 14-yard pass to Kenny Stills, who lateraled to DeVante Parker, who then lateraled to Kenyan Drake, who did the rest by running an “s” through the New England defenders and beating Rob Gronkowski—in the game to bat down or intercept a Hail Mary pass—to the end zone.
“Protection was good because usually you have something happen where you have to move up in the protection,” Gase said. “I thought those guys did a good job. Ryan threw it at the right time. Kenny did a good job of not throwing it. He didn’t do what happens a lot of times where you catch it and you toss it and it doesn’t matter if there’s a guy there. Him kind of noticing that guy there and then waited and pitched it to DeVante. Then, after watching that, DeVante was probably right with what he did to get it to Kenyan.
“At the time, I thought he could have kept running and wait to pitch it to him because that’s really what you’re trying to do is get him to go as long as possible until he has to pitch it. But that’s probably not a bad idea to give it to the guy that has probably better vision and he’s kind of been in that situation as a kickoff returner and a running back.”
Practice makes perfect: Gase indicated that final play, the now-famous “Boise” play, was executed just as it’s designed all the way to Drake being the last player to get the ball. There was, however, one minor difference after Drake got the pitch from Parker after Stills caught Tannehill’s pass. “DeVante usually runs about 10-15 yards then he pitches it to Drake and Drake does some ridiculous touchdown dance going in,” Gase said. “I’m sure when it was real, he was just like, ‘I better get in the end zone.’ ”
X factor: It’s still way too early in the week to gauge whether cornerback Xavien Howard will be able to return to the lineup against the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday, but the Dolphins will continue to take a cautious approach with him. “We’ll just see how he feels,” Gase said. “It is what it is. We can’t rush him and put him out there and have something else happen. We just have to kind of wait and see and see how he feels and take it step by step.” With Howard out of the lineup, Bobby McCain and Minkah Fitzpatrick each played 81 of 82 defensive snaps, and Torry McTyer (38), Walt Aikens (5), Cornell Armstrong (3) and Jalen Davis (1) all got snaps in nickel and dime situations. For Davis, the game marked his NFL debut after he was promoted from the practice squad Saturday.
Stills the one: Stills enjoyed one of the most productive games of his career Sunday when he had eight catches for 135 yards and a touchdown in the victory against New England — and of course was the original pass catcher on the final play of the game. The eight catches represented Stills’ highest total since he joined the Dolphins in 2015 and tied his career high, set while a member of the New Orleans Saints against the Baltimore Ravens in November 2014. Interestingly, no other Dolphins receiver had more than one catch against New England. “Right place right time,” Gase said. “We didn’t call anything different, just thought the protection was good. The coverage dictated that the ball went there. When I saw the numbers after the game, I was shocked. It’s rare to see, like, eight and then everybody else had one. That’s not really how it’s designed. But you don’t always control what they call and a couple of plays just happened to work out that way.”
Home sweet home: The Dolphins improved to 6-1 at Hard Rock Stadium this season with their victory against the Patriots, ensuring themselves of matching their 6-2 mark of 2016, which is their best at home since 2002. With a victory against Jacksonville on Dec. 23, the Dolphins would match their best home record since 1985 when they were 8-0. The Dolphins are now 16-7 at home since Adam Gase became head coach in 2016. He was asked Monday whether Hard Rock Stadium has become a difficult place to win: “It’s hard. I mean, there’s probably about seven of us over the last few years with about the same record. It’s good that we’re up there.”
Must-see TV: The win against New England was the kind of game fans want to tape for future viewing, and NFL Network will provide the opportunity to do just that when it replays the game Wednesday at 2 p.m.