Bill Belichick is unarguably one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history. However, he has a pedestrian 8-9 record when his Patriots travel to Miami. Let’s look at some great and not so great moments from the Patriots’ recent history of playing in South Florida. Interestingly, Belichick has coached for so long, the stadium itself has underwent 5 name changes since he took over for the Pats!
BELICHICK & THE FIRST DYNASTY
The first meeting between the teams with Coach Belichick on the sidelines was a unmemorable 10-3 loss. The 2000 Dolphins were a playoff team; the Patriots were not. They managed a meager 210 total yards on the day. New England finished 2000 with a 5-11 record.
In Tom Brady’s first loss as a starting quarterback in the NFL, the Patriots jumped out to a quick lead. However, they did not reach the end zone again. Miami routed the Patriots, 30-10. The loss dropped New England to 1-3.
No one in their right mind would have ever figured that this club would go on to win the Super Bowl that season. After the game, Coach Belichick buried the ball. The Patriots finished that season by winning 13 of their 15 and their first World Championship. The Dolphins also finished the season at 11-5 but were pummeled by Baltimore in the wild card game.
In 2003, the Patriots came back to win in Miami in overtime. Brady was sensational all game, but could not find the end zone until late in the fourth. He hit David Givens with just under two minutes to play to tie the game at 13.
The stage was set for one of the great moments of the 2003 season. Brady launched a terrific deep shot to Troy Brown about nine minutes into overtime. Brown caught the bomb in stride and was gone. The play went for 82-yards.
New England finished 2003 with their second world championship. Miami finished 10-6 and out of the playoffs.
Perhaps the most embarrassing loss of the Bill Belichick era occurred on a Monday night late in the 2004 season. The game is known in Miami as “the night courage wore orange.” New England came into the game winners of 27 of their last 28 games. Miami was 2-11.
The Patriots took a 28-17 lead with about four minutes left. Then, they collapsed. Brady was intercepted twice late in the game. Hence, Miami scored the tremendous upset, 29-28.
Who played well for Miami that night? Sammy Morris and Wes Welker. So, Coach Belichick must have taken good notes!
BELICHICK HAS HAD GREAT AND TERRIBLE GAMES IN MIAMI
Brady may have had his worst game in the NFL when the teams faced in 2006. Hall of Famer Jason Taylor was all over the field in Miami’s 21-0 victory. Let this sink in: Brady threw for less than 100 yards on the day!
That bad taste must have lingered for Brady as he came back in 2007 and lit the Dolphins up. Brady was a phenomenal 21 for 25 for 354 yards and six touchdowns. Two of the scores went to Randy Moss on circus catches. As we know, New England finished 16-0 in 2007. How about the Dolphins? 1-15.
The Patriots again pounded Miami late in the 2008 season. Matt Cassel threw for over 400 yards and added a rushing touchdown. Moss caught three touchdown passes.
The win gave New England a 7-4 record. The loss dropped Miami to 6-5. Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Dolphins did not lose another regular season game. Although both teams finished 11-5, Miami held the tiebreaker. They did not represent the AFC East well in the playoffs as Ed Reed and the Ravens destroyed Miami in the first round.
The Patriots suffered a horrendous loss in Miami during the 2009 season. Brady struggled much of the season rebounding from his ACL injury. Anyway, they blew a 21-10 lead, losing 22-21 on Dan Carpenter’s last-minute field goal.
The Patriots were far better in 2010. On an early season Monday night game, they walloped the Dolphins thanks to 35 second-half points. New England scored on a kickoff return, interception return, and a blocked field goal return. They also blocked a punt that led to a touchdown.
The 2010 season was a triumph and a failure for the Pats. They finished with a resounding 14-2 record destroying most teams in the process even while they traded Randy Moss. However, they were defeated in the playoffs by Rex Ryan and his New York Jets.
In New England’s 2011 game in Miami, Tom Brady went off. He recorded 517 passing yards including a 99-yarder to Wes Welker while the game was still in doubt.
The ’11 Patriots were all guts. Thus, they survived a very tough AFC to get to the Super Bowl. The Dolphins were terrible that season leading to Tony Sparano’s firing.
BELICHICK & THE SECOND DYNASTY
The Patriots struggled in Miami from 2013-2015. Two of those losses proved to be very costly. Had the Pats won in Miami in December in the 2013 and 2015 season, they would have had home field advantage. Who knows? They may have gone to four straight Super Bowls had they not had to play in Denver for the AFC title.
The 2013 loss to Miami featured four shots from the Dolphins ten-yard line with New England trailing 24-20. The Dolphins held their ground dropping New England to a 10-4 mark. Notably, Rob Gronkowski missed that game due to his ACL tear. No doubt he could have helped during that red zone opportunity!
The Patriots opened their 2014 season in Miami and wilted in the Florida heat. Overall, New England had a lousy offensive month in September 2014 culminating in a beat down by KC later in the month.
Their poor start served as a catalyst to an excellent season, however, as New England went on to become Super Bowl XLIX champions. Miami went an uninspiring 8-8 in 2014.
The teams met in the 2015 season finale. The Patriots ravaged by injuries played and coached terribly. The Pats’ offensive line was owned by Miami’s pass rush. Unfortunately that served as a recipe for Denver’s powerful performance against the Patriots in the AFC championship game.
In many ways, Coach Belichick had his worst hour on that Sunday in Miami. He wanted to pound the rock with veteran Stephen Jackson, but it didn’t work. He wanted to protect Tom Brady from injury and that didn’t work. Likewise, he wanted to shut down Miami’s poor offense in the red zone late in the game. Yes, that did not work. Belichick has done some masterful work as New England’s head coach. But, on this day, he let his team down.
In last year’s season finale, Belichick did not let the same thing happen. He stepped on the gas from the go. And, when Miami made a mini-rally, New England jumped on their throats. Ironically, Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman, Michael Floyd and Shea McClellin made the big plays in this game. Ironic because none of those guys will be on the field this week for the Pats just 11 months later. Floyd will be with Minnesota against Carolina, while the other three guys are out for the season.
What is in store for this week? With a win, Coach Belichick will be 9-9 in South Florida. I think it happens. New England 34, Miami 23.
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills