Patriots

‘I don’t think it’s some Houdini magic’: Devin McCourty gives his take for why the Patriots have struggled in Miami

The Patriots are 2-8 against the Dolphins in Miami in games in December or January during Bill Belichick's tenure as head coach.

Devin McCourty's been on the wrong side of some bad losses in Miami.

Patriots fans probably know the house of horrors Miami can be for them, especially late in the season.

Over Belichick’s 22-year stretch manning the Patriots, his teams are 9-12 when facing the Dolphins in Miami. More particularly, they’re 2-8 in games in Miami that take place in December or January.

So, despite the Patriots holding a better record and being 6.5-point favorites for the latest matchup between the divisional rivals, history says that Sunday’s game isn’t one the Patriots should look over with the playoffs looming.

Patriots safety Devin McCourty noted the obvious climate difference between the two areas during the winter as a possible reason for the struggles. But he doesn’t believe it’s the sole reason for the Patriots’ poor record in Miami come wintertime.

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“We’ve got to execute,” McCourty said in an interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Friday. “I think obviously, the change in the weather plays a part. It’s the same thing people talk about when people have to come play us in December and January and how much of a struggle that can be.

“But for me, overall, it’s just executing and playing. It’s a division opponent that I would say overall plays us better at home than they play us when they’re away. But I don’t think it’s some Houdini magic or this big thing about we can’t win down there. We’ve gone down there and won in December. But we do have some losses down there.

“I think obviously this year it will come down to executing and playing. I’ll always say it, no two years are alike, no two teams are alike. It comes down to that team, going down there and playing well, and that’s what we need to do Sunday.”

This year’s Dolphins team isn’t too different from the Dolphins team that defeated the Patriots in Miami last season. After going 10-6 a year ago, the Dolphins enter Sunday’s game with an 8-8 record, winning seven games in a row before losing to the Titans, 34-3, last week.

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More importantly, it’s a team that’s already defeated the Patriots this season. In Week 1, the Dolphins held on to win 17-16 in Foxborough.

“I would say it’s a lot different. I would say they’re better. I think any time you play a team Week 1 and then you turn on the film at the end of the season, you see an improvement of the team – doing the things they did against you, but just doing it better. You see players that come into the game that you might not have known much about that you get a whole season’s worth of film now. This guy can do this really well, this guy can do this for them. The roles are solidified.

“So, you get to see more of them, especially because in Week 1, you really don’t know anything. You watch some preseason games. Even a guy like Jaylen Waddle, like you know he’s going to be a good player, but how are they going to use him? What’s going to be his strength? We didn’t know any of that Week 1 but we for sure know that now because of the season he’s had. I think all of that becomes more of a focus.

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“I would say Miami is a way improved team compared to Week 1 and I think we fall into the same boat.”

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