By: Chip Turner
In the thick of the 2020 NFL playoff race, Miami desperately needed a win Sunday against their nemesis, the New England Patriots. They went into the game without DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant, and Mike Gesicki. And as pundits were happy to remind everyone, a rookie QB starting his first game against Belichick hadn’t won since the Cretaceous Era.
And then, in a change of pace from what has been a series of surprise endings, weird twists and thrill rides in this series, the Dolphins just went out and beat the Patriots. There was no desperation in their play; they simply executed their game plan, didn’t beat themselves, and figured out how to do something their opponent couldn’t stop.
In other words, they out Patrioted the Patriots. Moving forward, that’s one of the most encouraging things I’ve seen from this team, and this was the most important win Miami has had in years.
Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Down 6-0 at halftime, this was a game that Miami would lose in years past. Miami had outplayed New England for all but three or four plays, but they were still being shut out. But instead of frustration, the mood seemed to be one of patience. It certainly looked like Miami’s game plan was working; that if they stayed the course, it would be okay. They did, and it was. Miami beat New England and knocked them out of the playoffs in a game that started feeling like an inevitability with a quarter left to go.
It was supposed to be Tua saving the day, right? His second-half heroics last week against Kansas City last week were a sign of things to come, right? Sure, almost all of his receiving options were partially deceased, but that didn’t matter, right? Miami was going to put all of the responsibility on his shoulders, right? It was going to be Tua vs. Newton to see who could continue on a playoff run, right?
Instead, Brian Flores drew up an absolutely brilliant game plan despite an offense that was literally made up of castoffs and spare parts. In reviewing the Patriots defensively, they realized something, and then they exploited it.
New England can’t stop the run.
So the Dolphins ran it. And then they ran it. And then they ran it some more. 42 rushes. 250 years. Nearly 6 yards per carry. They controlled the ball, played conservatively, and kept their playoff hopes alive.
Moving forward, that’s a very bad sign for the rest of the league. Because for all of the excitement of this year, and all of the hype of the 2020 rookie QBs, there’s one question that should (and I suspect does) concern a lot of people.
“If Miami’s playing this well by simply out-executing their opponents…what’s going to happen when Tua has weapons?”
For now, we’ll have to be content with a playoff push into Las Vegas, where Miami looks like they’ll be a smart bet.