Bill Belichick can’t shield himself from this decision gone wrong.
While the Patriots coach is typically given the benefit of the doubt for some of his unorthodox moves, even his former players couldn’t excuse the way he defended the final play Sunday as New England choked up a win.
Belichick put tight end Rob Gronkowski on the field for the Dolphins’ miracle 69-yard touchdown as time expired, set up by a pair of laterals before Kenyan Drake did the rest and ran past Gronkowski to win it.
“Coach Belichick outsmarted himself having Rob Gronkowski on the field for a 70-yard Hail Mary and keeping his best defensive player on the sidelines, Devin McCourty,” former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”
Gronkowski said whenever he has played defense in practice, it has been to knock down a Hail Mary. But with the Dolphins taking the final snap from their own 31-yard line, a throw that long from Ryan Tannehill would have been nearly impossible.
“For me, I’m not used to seeing the Patriots play such sloppy football and bad situational football,” Harrison said. “This is something they practice every single day … very disappointing.”
Harrison wasn’t alone in his criticism of his former coach.
“I think this is one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen by Belichick,” ex-Patriots wide receiver Donte Stallworth wrote on Twitter. “Not playing [Malcolm] Butler in the [Super Bowl] is probably number 1. But … at least we know BB is human.”