Sunday, December 15, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins
By James Walker
MIAMI -- Thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday.
What it means: The Dolphins picked up their biggest victory of the season to improve to 8-6 thanks to a late touchdown pass by quarterback Ryan Tannehill to running back Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 remaining and a big defensive stop to end the game. Unheralded safety Michael Thomas picked off Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the end zone with two seconds remaining. Miami also snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Patriots (10-4), who still hold a firm lead in the AFC East. However, the Dolphins hold sole possession of the final wild-card spot in the AFC -- even if just for a day. The Baltimore Ravens (7-6) have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami and will try to reclaim the sixth seed when they play the Detroit Lions on “Monday Night Football."
Stock Watch: Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace had another solid performance. Wallace had six receptions for 105 yards and a 39-yard touchdown catch before halftime. It was Wallace’s fourth 100-yard game of the season. Wallace’s chemistry with Tannehill has improved tremendously in the second half of the season.
In terms of stock down, the Patriots did a terrific job to shut down Miami tight end Charles Clay. New England made a concerted effort to stop Clay by rolling extra coverage his way. Clay had zero receptions in the first half and just one reception in the game.
Field goal folly: Miami had a costly mistake in the first half. Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis lined up for a 42-yarder that was botched as Miami was going for the tie before halftime. Long-snapper John Denney snapped the ball to an unsuspecting Brandon Fields, and the ball hit Fields in the helmet. The Patriots recovered and scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive before the half.
What’s next: The Dolphins will hit the road for their final road game of the regular season to play the Buffalo Bills Sunday in an effort to split the season series. The Bills upset the Dolphins in Miami 23-21 in Week 7. The Dolphins will need to win this game to firmly remain in the playoff hunt.