Add “resourceful” to the list of so many attributes that have helped propel the Dolphins to a 9-5 record with two games left. Look at Sunday against the Patriots. The top four offensive threats were missing – DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Jakeem Grant and Myles Gaskin.
So what happens? The Dolphins rush for 250 yards and, without his top receivers, Tua Tagovailoa used his feet instead, running for two second half touchdowns that sealed the outcome.
That’s resourceful. That’s a high-quality team. Forget about who’s missing. Get by with what you have. Find a way. Any way. That’s how you make a serious run toward the playoffs and that’s how you make sure the Patriots are not invited to the party.
That’s right, one of the most gratifying parts of Sunday’s grind-it-out 22-12 victory was that it eliminated the Patriots from every playoff equation. That’s what the Patriots used to do to the Dolphins. But now the roles are reversed. Now it’s the Dolphins providing the hammer on the Patriots season and, for a while, you had to wonder whether this day would ever come. Wonder no more. The Dolphins are undeniably the better team.
There was so much to take from Sunday’s victory:
The defense made it 20 straight games forcing a turnover, the longest streak in the league, while holding the Patriots to just four field goals. It’s been obvious all season that defense is the strength of this team.
On offense, give Tua credit for not forcing things downfield with his best receivers sidelined. He was patient. He showed poise. He settled for short throws underneath. His only mistake was an interception that came while he was hit throwing the ball. His two rushing touchdowns were clear reminders of his athletic ability.
And, as we have been reminded so often over the years, there haven’t been many rookie quarterbacks talented enough to win against a Bill Belichick defense. Tua was a rare exception.
The big picture? The Dolphins need to win in Las Vegas next Saturday night and then in Buffalo to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs. Win one out of two and they’ll need some help. Yes, even with a 10-6 record. But forget about the playoffs just for a moment. This offense is too limited to really expect a deep run. The real promise is a team on the ascent, a defense that has been rebuilt, a coaching staff that makes the right adjustments and two first and second round picks in next year’s draft. All of this and a 9-5 record after 14 games tells you everything you need to know about the direction this franchise is heading.