By: Brandon Liguori
When Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins fell to 1-7 , 99.9% thought the team was officially out of playoff contention. Four consecutive wins later, it may be time to put Miami back in the postseason conversation.
The team’s latest victory, a 33-10 whooping vs. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium, surprised some folks, but the performance Sunday did not surprise Flores and some of Miami’s notable players, as well.
“I thought we played a complimentary game starting with the block punt early,” head coach Brian Flores said, whose team capped off the month of November a perfect 4-0.
“I thought the offense played well. I thought the defense played well. I thought the guys had a good week of preparation.”
Miami’s blocked punt in the opening quarter came at the hands of Duke Riley, which was then recovered by Justin Coleman to give the Dolphins a quick 7-0 advantage. Miami’s defense, which did a tremendous job of making Lamar Jackson uncomfortable two weeks ago on a Thursday night, made life for Cam Newton miserable.
Newton, who was pulled in the second half for PJ Walker, completed just five passes, threw an interception to Jevon Holland and Xavien Howard and finished with a quarterback rating of an eye-popping 5.8. “We just-- we lost footing early. And we have to find ways to get back on track,” Newton said.
Newton’s Panthers never led Sunday afternoon. “First of all, obviously credit Coach Flores and Miami. They did everything you need to do to win the football game, from special teams to offense to defense. For us obviously, we’re really disappointed,” Panthers’ Matt Rhule said.
Unlike Newton, Tua Tagovailoa hauled in another professional performance, completing 27-of-31 throws for over 200 yards and a second-quarter touchdown to rookie Jaylen Waddle. Sunday marked the first time Waddle eclipsed over 100 receiving yards in his professional career (10 targets, nine receptions, 137 yards, TD).
Does Tagovailoa remember Miami’s disastrous seven-game losing streak after a 17-16 victory against the New England Patriots to begin the season? Of course he does. However, 1-7 is in the past and what happened in the past stays in the past.
“I just think it’s everyone in there just not listening to the outside noise, just believing in one another, and really just zoning in and playing football that we know we can play. It’s playing complimentary football,” Tagovailoa said.
At 5-7 and riding an impressive four-game winning streak, Brian Flores’ crew will welcome Daniel Jones and the New York Giants (4-7) next Sunday afternoon.