The New England game was Matt Moore’s chance to show Stephen Ross, Jeff Ireland and the Miami Dolphin fan-base he was worthy of the word franchise, but alas… It was not to be.
Moore played well in the first half and was able to overcome several drops by Brandon Marshall to lead the Dolphins to 17-0 halftime lead. In the third quarter, Miami lost momentum when errors by Moore opened the door for Tom Brady and the Patriot offense.
In a time when Moore needed to step-up and show leadership, he was swallowed up by the moment. He fumbled critical snaps, overthrew a wide-open Brian Hartline on a sure TD that was instead, intercepted. He looked flustered at the time when a stable force was needed to hold his team together.
Like blood in shark infested waters, Brady and the Patriots seized the opportunity with a frenzy of 27 unanswered 2nd half points. The Miami defense forced NE to use up 18:20 of the 2nd half clock by shutting down the deep passing game, but the Miami offense was unable to respond against the worst defense in the NFL until it was too late.
One sustained drive in the middle of the Brady feeding frenzy could have closed the door on the Patriots, but by the time Moore regained his focus, the game was over. The meaningless last minute scoring drive came without the pressure of winning the game.
Horace said it right for Matt Moore… -Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – "Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future.” This was Moore’s opportunity to prove he had the character to stand up in the face of adversity and will his team to victory. Moore has not played poorly, but he has also not shown the special magic that sets QBs like Tom Brady apart from the rest of the league.
The Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL and Miami showed, as they have many times this season, they are not far away from beating elite teams. The difference seperating Miami and the word elite is at the QB position. NE played without 2 of its starting tackles, and Miami lost all pro tackle Jake Long. Every team deals with injury over the course of a season, it is the play of the QB that seperates perennial winners from middling teams like Miami.
Miami is in a better place heading into this off-season because Matt Moore has shown he can win games in this league against the teams Miami should defeat, but he has also shown he is not elite. The bright side is, Miami will not go into the future with uncertainly about what they have at the QB position. Chad Henne will not be re-signed and with Moore, the Dolphins have an adequate starter.
The Dolphins will do what they must to upgrade the position, and hopefully it will come through the draft. Matt Barkley deciding to return to USC will leave Miami out of position to draft one of the top two prospects, Andrew Luck and RG3. Either another QB comes into the mix after the combine or the Dolphins will have to sellout the future.
Matt Moore will have one remaining chance to seize the day, but unfortunately it is too little too late.