The big play: 78-yard swing on Dolphins RB Damien Williams’ fumble

The Dolphins' comeback push crumbled on this play. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

The Dolphins’ comeback push crumbled on this play. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE–While the final result of the Dolphins35-14 loss to New England looked decisive, it might’ve been significantly different if not for one play gone awry.

Miami forced the Patriots into a punt to start the fourth quarter and was driving with a chance to make it a one-score game. The Dolphins were down 27-14 when they got to the New England six-yard line and were still threatening on second-and goal from the nine. Take a look at where it all went wrong:

Before the snap, the Dolphins are showing five potential receivers (the tight end ultimately stays back to block) and Damien Williams in the backfield:
presnap-4-receivers-dw-backfield

Miami has three receivers to the left and sends Williams that way as well. The three receivers go deep, pushing the attention back and clearing room for Williams:
3-receivers-left-push-the-attention-back-for-dw

New England safety Devin McCourty and linebacker Shea McClellin are the safeguards. McCourty is over the top; McClellan is underneath:
mccourty-deep-mcclellin-under

The play works. Williams is in space with at least a step on McClellin as he rushes to pick him up:
play-works-dw-in-space-with-a-step-on-mcclellan

As the ball is released, McClellin’s not a factor. It’s a blurry image, but McCourty is right on top of the play and in position to at least stop Williams immediately after the catch:
ball-released-mccourty-on-it-blurry-photo

Williams makes the catch. If he goes down here, the Dolphins are looking at third-and-goal from the four-yard line. At this point, it’s a success for Adam Gase and Matt Moore:
goes-down-here-its-3ng-from-4

Williams is looking to spin back for extra yardage:
williams-wants-to-spin-back-for-more-yds

He’s a little loose with the ball here:
loose-with-ball

McCourty makes a textbook play. He slaps at the ball with his right hand in a way that allows him to still wrap up Williams if that doesn’t work. Obviously it did, and he knocks the ball out:
mccourty-slap

When the ball comes out, no one but McClellin is near it. Ironically, that’s largely because the play worked so well:
ball-out-mclellan-only-one-near-it

McClellin scoops it at the 14-yard line and he’s got momentum:
mclellan-has-it-at-the-14

Moore’s got an angle to make the stop, but would the Dolphins really want him to risk it? It’s a moot point as he loses his footing and McClellin swerves around him:
moores-got-an-angle

Credit Williams for racing all the way back for the chasedown on McClellin. He stops him at the 18-yard line and at least gives the Dolphins a chance to hold New England to a field goal:
williams-tackle

In one swing the Dolphins go from the New England four, threatening to cut the score to 27-21, to the Patriots being in the red zone. LeGarrette Blount scored six plays later and New England added the two-point conversion to make it 35-14 and end the game.

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