First off: This win was special. It showed several things, which I'll get to, but first...don't let the Pats fans and other skeptics tell you why Miami won. I've been hearing and reading so much of that since the game ended Sunday and fired this off onto one of my Facebook friends:
"I'm sick of the Gronk excuses and other injury excuses. The Fins have been playing all season with a makeshift off line. Two of the starters are not with the team because of a so-called 'bullying scandal', others have been injured. Miami had two non-starters at D-back during that last Patriots drive. Def tackle Paul Soliai missed all but the first quarter and others on defense went down during the game and we still won. You have Tom Brady and Bill Belicheat and you couldn't win because the Fins did what it took to stop them in the end. Let's give some credit to my team and stop whining about your tight end being hurt. I've heard this a zillion times over the years...'injuries are part of the game'."
The NE fans didn't like my "Belicheat" comment.
For years, the Fins have lost games they should have won and when fans tried to mention this injury or that one, we heard that standard comment above and were told "your team stinks!"
Well, whether or not the Dolphins make it to the playoffs, they don't "stink" at this time. They play with a lot of heart and determination and could be on the verge of being a really good team down the road (should these players stay together).
That brings me to the things this game showed us:
1) The Dolphins have a really good quarterback...and he's only going to get better. Ryan Tannehill has just played his 30th NFL game, has been sacked more than any other QB in the league and still keeps his composure. I'm not saying he's the second-coming of Dan Marino, but he is definitely the best quarterback Miami has had since Marino.
2) Can we give Jeff Ireland a break? That may not be a popular thought, but he's the guy who plucked Michael Thomas from the 49'ers practice squad out of necessity due to injuries in the defensive backfield. Thomas came in on the final plays of that final Patriots drive and knocked down one pass in the end zone before picking off another. Ireland also picked several other players who have blossomed before our eyes, including Tannehill.
3) If they get into the playoffs, the Fins have now beaten 3 of the other five teams that will be in there: New England (once), Cincinnati and Indianapolis (oddly enough by the same 24-20 score as the Patriots game). Miami has not played the Broncos or the Chiefs. I'm not saying the Fins should have no trouble defeating any of these teams, but if they head to Cincy to play the Bengals, knowing they already defeated them should come in handy as motivation.
4) The Dolphins have now won 3 games in a row, getting hot at just the right time, and play their final two games against teams with losing records (Bills, Jets).
If the Baltimore Ravens lose just one of the final games and the Fins win their final two, the 6th seed is theirs.
Good luck Dolphins and great job against those Patsies!
Photo: Getty Images