This is a tough way to go out.
The New England Patriots were largely outplayed by the Miami Dolphins for four quarters Sunday night. But the Patriots were still alive in the game's final minute and fought until the very end before replay review ended their night.
Trailing, 24-17, the Patriots faced fourth-and-four at Miami's 33-yard line win one minute left in regulation. They ran a pass play from Mac Jones to tight end Mike Gesicki. Dolphins cornerback Justin Bethel grabbed Gesicki and stood him up just short of the line of gain. But the play wasn't over.
Gesicki lateraled the ball back to left guard Cole Strange, who drove the ball forward with his 310-pound frame into a pile of Dolphins defenders. When the dust settled, officials placed the ball just over the line of gain for a Patriots first down.
The game wasn't over. Yet.
Not content with the live spot on the field, officials sent the play to the replay booth. There, they overruled the spot on the field, determining that Strange came up short of the first down. Turnover on downs. Game over. The Dolphins knelt twice and secured a 24-17 win.
Here's the angle that convinced replay officials that there was conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field:
They determined that Strange was down with the ball short of the first-down marker on the boundary line in the background. The Dolphins improved to 2-0 while the Patriots dropped to 0-2 for the first time since 2001, the year Tom Brady took over at quarterback and changed the fortunes of a once-forlorn franchise. If there's any solace in New England, it's that the Patriots won the Super Bowl that season.
It was a tough night for New England that had head coach Bill Belichick incensed before the fateful final call. The reaction on the Patriots sideline said it all.
The Patriots will look to change their fortunes in a Week 3 matchup against the New York Jets.