'Miami Miracle' is gone, but Bolden is back

AMANDA SABGA/Staff photoNew England Patriots' running back Brandon Bolden, running for yardage against the Jets in 2017. He left as a free agent in 2018, joining the Dolphins, before making his return this season. 

 It got lost in "The Miami Miracle" shuffle last December.

Brandon Bolden's career day as an NFL player.

Understandably, though, a lot happened on that blistering hot afternoon in Fort Lauderdale before the "Miracle" occurred.

Tom Brady left three points on the field at halftime, forgetting the Pats didn't have any timeouts. The Patriots

Former Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a near-perfect passer rating (155.1) while completing 14 of 19 passes, for 263 yards and three touchdowns.

Dolphins running backs piled up 176 yards rushing on only 20 carries.

The Patriots actually lost despite blocking two punts and Brady (27-43, 358 yards, 3 TDs) and Rob Gronkowski (8 rec., 96 yards, 1 TD) having excellent games.

And then on the final play, when "The Miami Miracle" was born, Bill Belichick, noted for his special teams expertise, had Gronkowski as the last line of defense on the kickoff return in the final seconds.

That's a lot of "stuff" in a loss we thought probably killed the Patriots Super Bowl hopes, including a grip on the top seed.

The unsung hero for the Dolphins that day was Bolden.

The career special teams player had two rushes that day -- for 54 and 6 yards -- both for first half touchdowns. The game stands as the only two-touchdown game of his career.

"I did have a little jump in my step that day," recalled Bolden, smiling. "I don't know what to say. I felt good."

Retribution? Anger? I'll-show-'em?

Bolden wasn't biting. All three were probably true. But guess what? None of it matters.

Bolden is back with the Patriots after a one-year hiatus (he was released last year), signing a two-year deal to come back to Foxboro.

Funny. Belichick has a way of acquiring players who have burnt his teams in the past (Exhibit A: Wes Welker).

"Bill called me [this off-season] and we talked," said Bolden. "He said some things. I said some things. And we came to an agreement. This is where I want to be."

The year in Miami wasn't planned. But he wanted to play and the Patriots released him. It was also a great learning experience, being on a team that won only seven games. Bolden's Patriots teams had never won less than 12 games over his first six seasons and went to conference title game every season.

The return to Foxboro wasn't planned either.

"But there really wasn't any other place I wanted to be," said Bolden. "I'm comfortable with everything here. It's hard, sure. But this is all I know. I like the pressure of having to compete every day. You don't take anything for granted here."

Bolden has never worried about playing time or roles. While he will primarily be a special teams player, joining special teams regulars Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner, he is open to anything.

"I will do anything they want me to do," said Bolden. "The only thing I care about his winning."

Bolden laughed when asked about the perception that the Patriots don't have "fun."

"Fun means different things to different people," said Bolden. "For me, this is fun. I love it here. The guys are all nice guys. It's amazing how many quality people we have on this team.

"[Terrence Brooks] came here from the Jets and said the locker room is nothing like he thought it would be," said Bolden. "I tell guys who ask, 'The Patriots have great guys.' "

Bolden's wife and three kids arrive in Foxboro from Baton Rouge, La. today. It's just another happy day for Bolden.

"Why am I still playing? Because my says I can," said Bolden. "I told her about the possibility of going to New England again. She said, 'Do it.' So I'm here."

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@gloucestertimes.com.



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