MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The setup was the same as the last three weeks.
Fall behind, then catch up with an amazing fourth quarter comeback that would replay on the highlight reels all week.
The only problem was the Patriots didn't hold up their end of the deal, losing to the Miami Dolphins, 24-20, after three failed shots at the end zone with less than a minute remaining.
"We didn't execute a play," said Julian Edelman, who caught a game-high 13 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. "We have to tip our hats to Miami. They made more plays than us and we got to move on to the Ravens."
Edelman, along with Danny Amendola (10 receptions, 131 yards), was key to the Patriots' final drive. Tom Brady targeted the duo 10 times on the final series, which stretched from the 1:15 mark of the fourth quarter to the two second mark, when the game was sealed on an interception thrown to Dolphins safety Michael Thomas.
"We didn't do a good job in the red area, we didn't do a good job finishing drives," Brady said. "Turns out we're coming out on the short end of the stick. So it just wasn't a good day. Just couldn't make enough plays when we had a chance to."
Brady, who finished 34 of 55 passing for 364 yards and two touchdowns, drove the Patriots down to the Dolphins 14-yard line, connecting with Amendola on a 24-yard pass for the largest chunk of the drive's 66 yards. But he couldn't connect with either of his top targets when he got into the red zone.
On a first and 10 at the Miami 19 with only 27 seconds to go, he threw deep right to Amendola that went incomplete. On second down, the team benefited from an offsides penalty on Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake. Thirteen seconds had run off the clock. Brady looked for Edelman after that, but it was another pass that went incomplete.
Twelve seconds left.
Looking down the seam of the field, Brady sought tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who had caught a 13-yard touchdown earlier in the game, on 3rd-and-5 at the 14. With only 7 seconds left, he targeted Austin Collie in the back of the end zone, but was intercepted by Thomas to seal the game.
"We got plenty of chances all day," Brady said. "So we make some good plays and then we make plenty of [expletive] plays."
Said Edelman: "Yeah, you know we go out there every drive expecting to execute the situation and we weren't able to do that today. So we're going to go back and watch this film and fix what we have to. Take the good from the good, the bad from the bad and all the in-between, and prepare for the Baltimore Ravens.
"Everyone is good in this league. Miami, you got to tip your hats to them. They played some good football, they made more plays than us today."