What went wrong on final play vs. Dolphins

Ted Johnson: What went wrong on final play vs. Dolphins originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Sunday night’s Week 2 showdown between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins ended on a wild note.

On fourth-and-4 with one minute remaining in regulation, Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki made the wise decision to lateral the ball to offensive lineman Cole Strange for a chance to cross the first-down marker and keep the drive alive. Unfortunately for New England, Strange was just short of converting the first down and the Dolphins escaped Foxboro with a 24-17 victory.

You can watch the sequence below:

It was a valiant last-ditch effort from Gesicki. Had Strange been able to reach out another couple of inches, the Patriots may have had a chance to complete an impressive comeback.

But if you ask former Pats linebacker Ted Johnson, the play was doomed from the start. He summarized what went wrong during the play during Monday’s episode of The Breakdown.

“What happened was (center) David Andrews came off of this block here with the right guard too late, and this linebacker was able to penetrate and come through and force pressure on Mac Jones. Part of it is that these three guys (Andrews, Cole Strange, Mike Onwenu) have not been working together all summer. … They’re not communicating. They haven’t been practicing together. …

“Mike Gesicki cuts off his route just before the sticks right here. The DB (defensive back) makes a play on the ball, but here’s the problem. The Patriots are on the defense’s left hash and the ball is thrown all the way across the field for a five-yard out, which is not an easy throw under duress. Mac Jones gets nailed, he throws the ball out here, it’s a little bit under-thrown. That gives time for the cornerback to break up, and then it makes the play closer than maybe it needed to be.

“But the breakdown started in the interior line mostly because these guys haven’t been working together and they’re just not comfortable blocking the slide protection. And then, of course, I didn’t like the play call because they’re throwing across the field on fourth-and-4, so that’s a difficult pass for the quarterback to make. Just a lot of things on that play I didn’t like, but it really started with the interior line.”

It was a fitting end to the night for New England as its offensive line struggled throughout the game both in pass protection and run blocking. Jones was sacked four times and hit eight times in total. Pats running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott couldn’t find any running room as they combined for only 63 yards on 20 carries.

The o-line will need to improve next Sunday against the elite New York Jets defense. If its woes continue, the Patriots will be in danger of falling to 0-3 for the first time since Bill Belichick’s debut season with the team in 2000.

You can watch the full episode of ‘The Breakdown’ below:

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