Bill Belichick accepts blame for Patriots' collapse against Dolphins: 'It starts with me'

If any other coach in the NFL made the same unforced error that Bill Belichick made at the end of the Patriots' stunning loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, they would be burned at the stake. But because it's Bill Belichick -- arguably the greatest coach of all time -- he gets a pass for putting tight end Rob Gronkowski on the field for what he thought would be a Hail Mary when really the Dolphins executed a crazy lateral play that ended with running back Kenyan Drake flying past Gronk near the goal line

Given his history,  Belichick probably deserves a pass for his blunder, but he wasn't willing to give himself one. On Monday, as he faced an onslaught of questions about the walk-off touchdown that became known as the Miracle in Miami, Belichick blamed himself for the outcome.

"It starts with me. We have to play better situational football. We'll work to try to achieve that," Belichick said, per ESPN.

So why was Gronk on the field?

"It would be his ability to play the deep, long throw," Belichick said.

And that confirms Belchick's mistake. 

It really was an unforced error. The Dolphins, trailing by five at the time, were positioned at their own 31-yard line. There's no way Ryan Tannehill was going to throw the ball all the way into the end zone, which meant there was no reason for Gronk to be on the field. Sure enough, as Drake made his way toward the end zone, only Gronk stood in his path. Drake took advantage of Gronk's defensive inexperience and lack of acceleration by beating him to the pylon with ease. 

There was no reason for Gronk to be on the field. 

Making Belichick's mistake look even worse is the fact that the Dolphins actually rehearsed that specific play in practice leading up to the game. Despite being in a dire situation, the Dolphins knew what they were doing. The Patriots, despite being in total control, looked lost.

It's not often the Patriots get exposed, which is what makes Sunday's loss even more shocking. It wasn't just the final play of the game. Mistake after mistake after mistake by the Patriots preceded the grand finale. Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal and an extra point. Tom Brady took a sack at the end of the first half instead of throwing the ball away, which cost the Patriots a field goal. Belichick kicked a field goal in the final seconds instead of trying to put the Dolphins away for good on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line. The list goes on and on. 

"I think there were a lot of things that could have been better in the entire game. I think the game was a lot more than that play, but certainly that play wasn't a good one for us," Belichick said.

Even still, despite the loss, the Patriots are well on their way to winning the AFC East and earning a first-round bye in the playoffs, which also means they'll host a playoff game, which means they'll probably be going back to the AFC title game. The loss really doesn't impact them that much considering the Chiefs don't look like they're going to lose their grasp on the top seed in the conference. The win, however, means a ton for the Dolphins, who are 7-6 and very much in play for a wild-card spot.    

Miami travels to Minnesota on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS, stream on CBS All Access or stream on fuboTV, try for free).

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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