There are a ton of storylines to pick from to lead off this recap of the Miami Dolphins beating the Dallas Cowboys 22-20 tonight at the proverbial buzzer. I’m going to pick two of them, and one is the direct result of the other in the most unthinkable of scenarios. Yes, folks, your Dolphins have FINALLY beaten a quality team with a winning record! And they did that with their kicking game, of all things. Just a few short days ago, I wrote that the Cowboys have a “huge advantage” in the kicking game. I mean, after all, they had the #1 kicker and #3 punter in the league, and Miami had the #22 kicker and the #31 punter in the league.

A logical assumption, one might think, and the Dallas kicking game went two for two in field goals and averaged 59.3 per punt. And yet they WERE outplayed. Not only did Miami kicker Jason Sanders boot a game-winning 29-yard field goal on the last play of the game, but he also hit on-field goals from 57 a career-long), 52, 54, and 35 without a miss. As he was being carried off the field by his teammates, it appeared he was counting to five on his fingers, bringing to mind LeBron James’ famous “not one, not two, not three…” speech.

Other game observations I noted. Dallas came out strong in the first quarter and led 7-3. They led in each of the offensive statistics: First downs 7-4, total yards 154-103, passing yards 120-91, and rushing yards 34-12. However, the Fins reacted well to getting punched in the mouth and dominated the second quarter. They outscored Dallas on the scoreboard 10-0, and on the stat sheet: First downs 9-1, total yards 128-8, passing yards 95 to a negative 2, rushing yards 33-10. They looked to be the team to beat going into halftime up 13-7.

Did they come out flat in the third quarter? Credit to coach McDaniel, no, they didn’t. They outscored Dallas 6-3 to take a 19-10 lead once again, having more first downs and yards than Dallas. In the critical 4th quarter, Dallas got its act together two long drives to take a 20-19 lead with 3:27 left in the game. But the Fins didn’t fold. Not only did Tua lead them on a 12-play 64-yard game-winning drive, but they also left Dallas with no time left on the clock.


  • The kicker and the kick. Jason Sanders going 5-5 on field goals, including three over 50 yards, clearly gets the game ball honors. To me, that last-second 29-yarder did a lot of things for the Dolphins other than just winning the game. Confident kicker. Confident to beat a quality team with a winning record. Coach confident.
  • Mike McDaniel (repeat from last week). Congratulations, coach. You won a big game. You led your team to the playoffs for the second consecutive year. You had your team ready to play and instilled a belief in them, win or lose that they had the ability to be elite. Belief is one thing. Today, the team proved it on the field. The team has a track record, and you have a track record of beating a damn good team with a winning record. Finally, you stuck with the running game in short-yardage situations.
  • Tyreek Hill. I can’t imagine “The Cheetah” was 100% with his ankle injury. Despite a slow start, he ended up with nine catches for 99 yards, including several catch-and-runs for crucial first downs. He remains the heart and soul, and leader of this team.
  • Stats aside, he did two great things this game. He didn’t turn the ball over, and he led his team on a game-winning drive while leaving his opponent with no time left on the clock. I believe he has not thrown an interception in the last 18 quarters, which is really the key to this team progressing into the post-season. Tua was 24-37 for 293 yards and 1 TD for the game. He did miss some open receivers but hit them when it counted on the last drive of the game.
  • Andrew Van Ginkel. AVG was all over the field. He almost had another pick-six off a tipped pass. He totaled 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss, and four quarterback hits.
  • Vic Fangio. It didn’t start off great, with Dallas driving 73 yards in 15 plays and Cee Dee Lamb going off for four catches and 93 yards in barely a quarter. This week, it was bend but don’t break as yards were given up but only 2 TDs. Vic’s bunch clamped down on Lamb, holding him to only two more catches the rest of the game. There is no shame in holding Dallas to 20 points.
  • Special Teams (repeat from last week). In addition to Mr. Sanders, Jake Bailey averaged 58 yards per punt and had one punt downed on the 2-yard line by Elijah Campbell, who has shone on the special teams unit covering kicks.


  • Yes, I found something for this list. The Miami offense had wasted three time-outs to avoid getting a delay of game penalty. Frankly, this has been an issue all year between head coach and quarterback. I don’t know what the issue is, but they have to figure it out because the higher the stakes, the more valuable a commodity the time-out becomes.


  • Injuries (repeat from last week). Three more critical injuries happened during the game. Both Jalen Waddle and Raheem Mostert missed significant time due to reported shin injuries. Luckily, Miami has depth at running back, and De’Von Achane and Jeff Wilson, Jr. stepped in nicely. Wide receiver Robbie Chosen missed most of the game with a possible concussion. Let’s hope all can recover in time to play next week.

Next Sunday’s game could theoretically be for the #1 seed in the AFC, depending on what the Ravens do Monday night. This game will give the Fins another opportunity to check off another box if they can beat a winning team on the road for the first time this year. This team has what it takes. It can pass, it can run, and it can play defense. That formula travels well and works in all kinds of weather.