After the Dolphins won the first two games of Dan Campbell’s tenure as interim head coach, the feelings were positive and strong. Some believed the Dolphins could shock the Patriots, picking up the team’s first win in Gillette Stadium since unveiling a Wildcat surprise in 2008.
Instead, the clock was turned back only a few weeks, to a Philbin-style defeat, the kind of loss that won’t allow Campbell to win the job on a permanent basis.
So now Campbell has to find a way to get his team to put this one behind them, but also to prevent another outcome like it in the future.
“I just told them I don’t believe that’s who we are one bit, not one bit did I believe that’s really who we are,” Campbell told reporters after the game. “I told them that I don’t want them to forget that feeling right there – don’t forget it – I hope it eats away at them just like it’s eating away at me and I hope it drives them to not want to have that taste in their mouth ever again.”
It may not be who the Dolphins are, but Campbell realizes that Thursday night showed what the Patriots are.
“That’s how they are,” Campbell said. “They do what they need to do. Knowing that they have the quarterback that they have, they can be whoever they need to be for their team and they are good. They have good athletes over there. They have good players – they’re smart. They know how to run their system and again, you lose sight because they have such a good quarterback, some people do forget that. We don’t forget that; I don’t forget that. You can’t mistakes against that defense, either. Yeah, a lot of that is because of what Tom [Brady] and that offense will do to you over there. They don’t give you much time to breathe, but defensively, they’re always good.”
Trailing 19-0 at the half, it appeared that the Dolphins could be turning things around, following a touchdown drive to open the third quarter and a defensive effort that held the Patriots to three. But that was the end of it, with the Patriots scoring the next 14 points, smothering the Dolphins, and taking a lot of the steam out of the Dan Campbell Express.