PHOTO: Miami Dolphins interim coach Jim Bates celebrates his team's victory against the New England Patriots at Pro Player Stadium in Miami Monday, Dec. 20, 2004. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 29-28. (AP Photo/Luis Alvarez)
Sometimes You Get What You Need
Patriots defeat may help them to focus
by Michelle Vitagliano, Fan Commentator
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones once wrote a song with the lyrics that go something like this "You can't always get what you want You get what you need." Well, after having conversations over the New England Patriot's 29-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins, a friend of mine pointed out that a loss wasn't necessarily what the Pats wanted, but maybe it's what they needed, especially as they quickly approach the play-offs.
The Pats marched into Miami's Pro Player Stadium on Monday night with a 12-1 record under their belt while Miami entered the contest with a not-so-hot 2-11 record. I don't think anyone could have predicted the final score, and certainly not the loads of people who bet and lost money on the game! It wasn't anything like the 24-10 win they had over Miami last time they met!
However, Miami came back in the first with a touchdown of their own to tie the game up 7-7. Hmm. Good for Miami. They're probably going to play their hearts out. I won't get too worried though. It's still early. No problem.
The Pats scored again in the second quarter with a Corey Dillon touchdown. Great. 14-7. They're ahead again. But Miami answered with a field goal by Florida native Olindo Mare bringing the score to 14-10 at the half. This certainly wasn't the score I was expecting after two quarters of Patriots football but I wasn't too concerned until the third quarter when Sammy Knight intercepted a Brady pass and Florida State's Travis Minor scored to put Miami ahead 17-14. Sure, the Pats were only 3 points behind with plenty of time left but they were trailing Miami. Not a good sign!
Dillon made his second touchdown of the game and 12th of the season (his career best), bringing the Pats back on top again 21-17. At this point, I wasn't too comfortable with the lead. The Pats should have been crushing Miami, not winning by a measly 4 points with only one quarter left! I can only imagine what was being said in the Miami huddles to hype up the players "We're only four points behind the Super Bowl champs and it's already the fourth quarter. We're still in this game. We have nothing to lose. Let's play our as$#es off and put this team in its place "
And then I thought about what was being said in the Patriot's huddles... "They're only four points behind us; it's the fourth quarter, and they're one of the worst teams in the league. We're the Super Bowl Champs. This game isn't over and Miami is starving for a win. Now let's get our as@%s in gear and end it right here."
Who wanted it more? It must have been the Dolphins because even though the Pats scored again in the fourth when Daniel Graham caught a 2 yard pass from Brady and to put New England in the lead 28-17, even the Pats were up 11 points with less than four minutes left in the game, Miami came up huge and scored 12 more points to end it.
It was one of those games where you don't have too much to say in the end. You can only wonder to yourself about what the hell just happened and ask questions that won't change the result. Did they really just lose to Miami? Did Brady really throw four interceptions? How could the Pats give up an 11 point lead with only four minutes left in the game?
They lost. It's plain and simple. The Pats, who we sometimes forget aren't invincible and can actually lose, did just that for the second time this season to a team who was more excited about this victory than any other.
But as my friend told me, maybe it's what New England needed. They're about to enter the play-offs and they need to be at their very best. Maybe this loss will put them in better form for the rest of their regular season games and truly prepare them for the anything-can-happen playoffs.
I'm not saying the Pats think they have this season all wrapped up. In fact, they're probably one of the most modest teams in the NFL. What I'm saying is, if there is a team who can learn a lot from a humbling loss, especially to Miami, it's the Pats. And I do believe that in the end, losing to Miami is only going to make them stronger and more focused for the rest of the season.
They're up against the Jets this weekend and rumor has it, Jet's quarterback Chad Pennington is a little more focused on how to get back at the New York media for all their negative press than he is on how to beat the Pats. Hopefully the Pats can take advantage of his little distraction next Sunday at the Meadowlands and totally redeem themselves! Go Pats!
Michelle Vitagliano, passionate Boston sports fan that she is, can be found in the insiders forums under the screen name Patriette. Her weekly fan commentary can be found here on the Patriots Insider site, or you can search for her articles on the Insiders by searching for "Michelle Vitagliano". If you're a local, you can find her mostly around the Boston scene on game night, hanging out with her friends.
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