FOXBORO -- The Patriots had plenty of chances to stop the Dolphins on what eventually turned into a game-winning drive. But when Bill Belichick's defense needed a stop, even his best player wasn't up to the task.
This week's Turning Point came late. It occurred when the Dolphins snapped the football for the first time after the two-minute warning.
On a second-and-12 play, with the Dolphins on their own 47-yard line, Ryan Fitzpatrick looked to his left, drawing defensive attention to that side of the field, then came back to his right and lofted a pass up to No. 1 target DeVante Parker. Stephon Gilmore was with Parker -- his assignment for the day -- stride-for-stride. Gilmore was "in phase," meaning his job on the play is to go up and play the football as a receiver would.
But Gilmore's timing was off. Rare as that has been this season, Gilmore appeared to never see the football coming. By the time he looked up to make a play on it, Parker was already in the middle of his leap and making the 24-yard grab. It was the chunk gain the Dolphins needed on their 13-play, 75-yard series.
Five plays later, Fitzpatrick found Mike Gesicki for a five-yard touchdown that gave the Dolphins the game.
"He made some plays," Gilmore said of Parker. "I feel like I let 52 other players down today, but he made some plays. It is what it is. I can handle it. I know the type of player I am. I know I’ve just got to go back to the practice field and practice harder and get ready for the (next) game."
According to Next Gen Stats, Gilmore aligned across from Parker on 40 of 45 routes. Parker caught seven of his nine targets with Gilmore on him for 119 yards. Per Next Gen, no receiver has had more receptions or yards going against Gilmore since the Patriots signed the corner in 2017.
New England Patriots
“He made big catches," Gilmore said. "He made some tough plays. He had a better day today.”
Parker's catch was the biggest during the game-winning drive, but Miami was able to string together more than a dozen plays to drive the field . . . on the road . . . against a defense that started the year on a historic pace. And Fitzpatrick did it through the air -- he completed 9 of 12 passes for 77 yards and a score -- which has been the strength of the Patriots defense all season.
"They attacked everything," Devin McCourty said. "We didn't get a stop. I've come up here numerous times (and said), 'That's what we want -- a chance to play defense to end the game and we didn't get it done today.' You guys watched it. It wasn't like they attacked one thing. Spread the ball around. We didn't get any stops that we needed. When you don't do that on the last drive of the game and you let the team drive the field and score, that's what you get."