By: Brandon Liguori
Welcome back to South Florida, Duke Johnson. It was not pretty, but in fact nail biting, as Brian Flores’ Miami Dolphins extended their season-long winning streak to six games after their tight 31-24 victory vs. the New York Jets this past Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
Having last played on Dec. 5, an 11-point win vs. the New York Giants, Tua Tagovailoa and the offense came out flat, trailing by as many as 10 without Jaylen Waddle, who was inactive Sunday because of COVID-19 protocols.
“We’re just trying to take it one day at a time. Get better. That’s the approach we’ve taken the entire season. These guys, they play hard for one another,” Flores said at the conclusion of the game. Not only were the Dolphins minus Waddle, but rookie Jevon Holland, also on the COVID-19 list, was absent on the defensive side of the football.
Johnson, a former Miami Hurricane, had a memorable first start for Flores’ crew, totaling 107 yards on 22 carries, including two important touchdowns, as well. With his magnificent performance Sunday, Johnson became the first Dolphins running back to eclipse over 100 yards rushing in a game this season.
“It meant a lot. Like you said, growing up in the area, just being able to play football and just play well here, it meant a lot but it meant even more because we got the win, so that helps,” an ecstatic Johnson said.
Johnson also mentioned how hearing the Hard Rock Stadium chant “Duke!” within his first few touches as a Dolphins gave him flashbacks during his collegiate football years. “It just reminded me of college. It felt like my college days again. Definitely enjoyed it,” Johnson said.
Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson would most certainly elect to forget his second-half performance, after jogging to the locker room at intermission with a seven-point lead in his pocket. Miami’s defense, led by Jerome Baker’s two sacks, sacked Wilson six times.
“Yeah, I thought they did some good things in the second half that made it tough on us. You know, we just got to keep going, try to execute, and, you know, just get going really I think is all it was,” Wilson said.
Sunday was the first time Wilson faced the Dolphins, after veteran Joe Flacco took the first-team snaps during Miami’s 24-17 victory over the Jets in Week 11. Winners of six-consecutive games, Miami (7-7), welcoming back both Waddle and Phillip Lindsay, will battle the Taysom Hill-led New Orleans Saints (7-7) next Monday night at the Caesars Superdome.