Tom Brady visited with his family in the postgame locker room Sunday while the New England Patriots were still trying to figure out how they had just lost.
Brady's young daughter offered an explanation.
"Daddy," she said, "I think the reason you lost is there were more people cheering for the Dolphins."
Especially at the end. Kenyan Drake ran the last 52 yards as the Dolphins scored on a pass and double lateral on the final 69-yard play Sunday to stun New England 34-33.
"They made a good play," Brady said. "They did a good job executing it. They got it to their fast guys."
Miami's "Drake Escape" prevented the Patriots from clinching their 10th consecutive AFC East title.
"It's going to test our character big time to bounce back from something like that," tight end Rob Gronkowski said.
Drake sprinted into the corner of the end zone past Gronkowski, whose role as part of the Patriots' prevent defense invited second-guessing.
But while the game will be remembered for the final seconds, the Patriots (9-4) could blame many other plays for a role in the defeat.
They reached the Miami 2 at the end of the first half and failed to score. Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point and a 42-yard field goal. They opted to kick a field goal in the final seconds, which gave Miami better field position to try for a last-second miracle.
"It shouldn't have come down to that," said Brady, who threw for three scores. "We left a lot more points on the board offensively."
The defense allowed the Dolphins to rush for 189 yards - 9.0 per carry - and gave up three touchdown passes by Ryan Tannehill.
But it was squandered scoring chances that seemed to annoy the Patriots the most.
"We missed opportunities," coach Bill Belichick said. "We've just got to do a better job."
The most glaring failure came at the end of the first half. With 14 seconds left and no timeouts, Brady took the snap at the Miami 2, and when he was sacked by Robert Quinn the clock ran out, leaving the Patriots to settle for a 27-21 lead.
"That was a terrible play by me," Brady said. "I lost track - I thought we had one timeout. I was just not thinking. So it was just a play that should never happen."
Gostkowski missed an extra point for the first time in 38 tries this season. On a field goal try, he missed from inside 50 yards for only the second time.
Belichick opted to have Gostkowski kick a 22-yarder in the closing seconds rather than try for a clinching TD or - worst-case scenario - give the Dolphins the ball near their goal line. Instead, Miami returned the ensuing kickoff to the 31, and scored on the next play.
Tannehill threw a 14-yard pass to Kenny Stills, who lateraled to DeVante Parker, who lateraled to Drake along the sideline at midfield. He found a lane and beat two defenders to the corner of the end zone - defensive back J.C. Jackson and Gronkowski.
The 6-foot-6 Gronkowski was part of the last line of defense in anticipation of a desperation pass, Belichick said. Instead Miami opted for a pass and lateral that unfolded slowly, and Gronkowski stumbled in pursuit of Drake.
"I didn't think it was going to get to me," Gronkowski said. "I've never really been a part of anything like that."
This article was originally published on December 09, 2018.