Dolphins Survive Injuries In Win Over The Patriots | December 20th, 2020

Dolphins Injuries

Miami Gardens, FL – The Miami Dolphins woke up Sunday morning in week 15 of the 2020 NFL season holding down the final AFC playoff spot. Moreover, the Fins were two games ahead of the New England Patriots in the standings heading into their week 15 divisional matchup. The Buffalo Bills secured the #1 spot in the AFC East with their win over the Broncos and the Jets still haven’t won a game. That being said, if Miami wins out, they make the playoffs and the Patriots will be eliminated. All the Dolphins have to do is survive their injuries and find a way to win. Easier said than done against a Bill Belichick coached squad.

Getting the best of Belichick is no easy feat. The man was 21-5 against rookie QB’s entering Sunday’s matchup. The last time he lost to a rookie was in 2013 against Geno Smith, falling 30-27 in overtime after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Chris Jones gave Nick Folk a chance to win it with a field goal. The Dolphins, however, led by Tua Tagovailoa, would not need overtime to take care of business.

The Setup

For one reason or another, the Patriots have struggled against the Dolphins, usually splitting the series. The last time the Patriots won both games against Miami was in 2016. This year would be no different. Miami, under then starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, lost in New England 21-11 back on week 1, September 13th. Now, late in December, Miami had a chance to spoil the Patriots’ playoffs for a 2nd straight season. Last season, Miami beat New England in the final game of the season to take away their home-field advantage. This season, Miami eliminated the Pats from the playoffs altogether, defeating New England 22-12, handing them their 8th loss of the season.

Tua is still making rookie mistakes, but he’s also executing enough to get the job done. Today he threw for 20/26 and 145 yards. He also rushed for two goal-line touchdowns. He threw his 2nd interception of the season when he got hit while attempting an endzone pass from inside the redzone. We see flashes of his greatness whenever he rolls out or steps into the pocket to create, but his pocket presence is still a work in progress.

The Game Plan

The Dolphins were missing WR’s DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant Sr, and TE Mike Gesicki due to injuries sustained in last week’s loss to Kansas City. Due to the Dolphins missing the majority of their offensive weapons through the air, the Fins did most of their damage in the run game. Miami has struggled to jump-start a run game all season. They’ve dealt with injuries, lackluster performances from offseason signees, and a young O-line that can pass protect but isn’t great at run blocking. Today, however, Miami ran for 250 yards. It’s the first time in two years that Miami records 200+ yards in the run game. Salvon Ahmed led the way recording 122 yards, and Matt Breida had his best game of the season with 86 yards. The holes were there, and the running backs knew exactly where to go.

Coach Brian Flores said of the run game “I thought the players executed. I thought (Salvon) Ahmed ran hard, (Matt) Breida ran hard, Patrick Laird ran hard. Offensive lined blocked well. We had receivers blocking downfield. I think we executed. They should be proud of themselves. It’s a well-coached team over there, and we played well today.”

The Mission

For Miami to make the playoffs, they have to win out. They are currently tied with Baltimore in the standings (9-5), but own the tiebreaker. Baltimore has the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, so they’ll probably win their remaining games. Next week, Miami travels to Las Vegas to face an Oakland Raiders team whose playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread but are more than capable of putting together a win. The Dolphins will need some of their receiving options to heal up their injuries in order to have their best chance at another victory.

📸 Credit: Indya Vassell

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