Patriots react to wild overturned play that sealed loss to Dolphins

FOXBORO — At first glance, it looked like the Patriots had made a spectacular, unexpected play to keep their comeback bid against the Dolphins alive.

Facing fourth-and-3, trailing by seven with under a minute left in the fourth, the Pats desperately needed a first down. They reacted as such in their effort. Mac Jones found Mike Gesicki in the flat, but when stopped by a defender and noticing he was short of a first down, he made a head’s up play by lateraling the ball back to offensive lineman Cole Strange, who caught the ball in acrobatic fashion, and then barreled through multiple defenders in an attempt to get to the marker.

Strange looked like he had pulled off the impossible. The call on the field was initially that he had converted the first down to keep the drive alive. Gillette Stadium roared. But after a video review, the play was overturned, ruled that Strange’s knee had hit the ground with the ball inches short of the first down marker at Miami’s 29-yard line. It sealed the Patriots’ heartbreaking 24-17 loss.

Gesicki explained his thought process behind the play, and revealed he got an assist from the Dolphins sideline.

“It was obviously fourth-and-3 and I caught the ball. I came back to it, so I had a feeling I was short,” Gesicki said. “Also was on their sidelines and I heard people cheering as if I was short, so right then and there I was like, I can’t go down with the ball. So, I knew if I could toss it back to somebody and I just saw one of the biggest people on the field on our offensive line, ended up being Cole and threw it to him. I thought we had it, but we unfortunately didn’t.”

Strange, too, thought he had enough.

“Yeah, but I didn’t,” Strange said.

“I caught it, ran it, and I didn’t get it. That’s all there is to it.”

Gesicki said he could have done a better job at getting his route beyond the sticks for the first down, but Jones was getting pressured and had to hurry the pass.

“Yeah, I was absolutely aware of the sticks,” Gesicki said. “I felt like there was a lot of green grass out there, I was trying to beat them with speed. I think Mac ended up getting hit, and obviously there’s a lot of things that go into it. But to answer your question, yeah absolutely.”

After the play was overturned, NBC’s cameras showed Gesicki slamming his helmet on the sideline. The tight end was clearly frustrated after the Patriots fell to 0-2.

“It’s just a lot of work that goes into these,” Gesicki said. “You only go into 17 opportunities and two of them are gone now. But ultimately we have 15 to go and we have a lot of football ahead of us, a lot of hard workers, a lot of great coaches. This is a great organization to be part of and we just have to get back to work tomorrow.”

Gesicki praised Strange’s effort in his bid for a first down.

“Unbelievable effort by him and all the guys pushing him,” Gesicki said. “It says a lot about this team. A lot of hard workers and a lot of resiliency. We’re going to get back to work and we’re going to be just fine.”

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