New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick accepted the blame for his team's dreadful execution that led to Kenyan Drake's game-winning 69-yard touchdown reception in the Miami Dolphins' 34-33 victory Sunday.
"It starts with me," Belichick said Monday, per ESPN.com's Mike Reiss. "We have to play better situational football. We'll work to try to achieve that."
Belichick also explained why he used tight end Rob Gronkowski as one of New England's last lines of defense: "It would be his ability to play the deep, long throw."
Gronkowski looked to be in a position to stop Drake short of the goal line but took a bad angle that allowed Drake a path to the end zone.
Many assumed Gronkowski was on the field to defend a Hail Mary attempt. Coaches will often use their best receiver as a deep safety to knock down the ball at the end of a game.
However, the Dolphins had the ball on their 31-yard line. The chances of Ryan Tannehill getting a pass to the end zone were slim. The minute Miami opted for a shorter throw, Gronkowski became an obvious liability.
Belichick has built enough equity to make the occasional strategic gaffe. And Gronkowski's involvement in the final play likely would've been forgotten already if it ends in anything other than a touchdown.
But Belichick isn't above reproach either, and second-guessing about New England's defending and Gronk's involvement in the final seconds is more than fair.
Losing to the Dolphins could prove costly for the Patriots. They now sit two games behind the Kansas City Chiefs for first place in the AFC. Although New England owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against Kansas City, closing a two-game gap in three weeks won't be easy.
The AFC title may run through Arrowhead Stadium in part as a result of the Dolphins' miraculous touchdown.