Another Sunday and another last minute victory for the Dolphins. This one came in a much different way though. Instead of the Fins needing a last minute score and the offense to make a big play, this week it was the defense that had to come up big late with a big stop.
Ryan Tannehill carried this team to a victory today with three touchdown passes and spectacular play. Coach Gase and Tannehill said in the post game press conference that they both felt disrespected that SF was loading the box and daring Miami to pass the ball. So, pass the ball they did and boy did SF get burned. Tannehill was on point with all of his passes today and Devante Parker, Kenny Stills, Dion Sims, and Jarvis Landry made big play after big play.
Behind a make shaft offensive line Tannehill had one of his better games of the season. Jay Ajayi got his yards on the ground to keep SF honest but today was all about Tannehill on offense.
On defense the unit played well for 3 quarters but in the 4th quarter they let San Francisco back into the game as the unit was wearing down. With no Jason Jones and Mario Williams leaving the game with an illness the defensive line had zero depth and was exhausted. The secondary was playing soft and let SF dink and dunk up the field to get some easy scores. When it came to the big money play though late in the 4th quarter Suh and Kiko showed up with the big stop.
With six wins in a row the Dolphins are right in the middle of the wild card hunt in the AFC. Today was also the last of the so called “easy” games on the Dolphins schedule this year. The remaining five opponents are above average teams no matter what their record is. Next week’s game in Baltimore vs the Ravens is as tough as it gets. The Ravens hold the #1 rush defense and Miami is down their three best offensive linemen. It will be as tough a test as this team has the rest of the way.
To put where we are at in perspective for some of you younger or newer Dolphins fans; with the exception of the 2008 playoff game vs the Ravens, next weeks game vs Baltimore at 1pm is the biggest game this franchise has had sine 2000. The Dolphins will be in December in the middle of a wild card hunt playing a meaningful game vs another playoff worthy opponent. Sure a couple years back in Joe Philbin’s early years the Fins had some games where if they won and got some help they would have sneaked into the playoffs, but those felt fluky and the team was never a threat to actually do anything in the playoffs. This year is different…VERY DIFFERENT.
Miami’s game vs Baltimore next week is a statement game on many levels. For one a win puts the league on notice that Miami is legit as they went into Baltimore in December and beat a quality organization who has had a lot of success in recent years. Second, it will further prove this team is for real in 2016 and a legit playoff team this year who can beat good teams home and away. Last but not least it will further continue the culture change that is on-going with the Dolphins organization these days. You change the culture of an organization by winning games, you take it to the next level by winning big games on the road. Next week is a big game on the road and in all honesty as big as they get.
Next week is a statement game and the biggest Dolphins game in my opinion since 2000. Time to step it up a notch next week and bring the “A” game vs the Ravens.