When it was announced a couple of hours before kickoff that the Miami Dolphins would be heading into Sunday's game against the New England Patriots without DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, and Jakeem Grant, fans let out a collective gasp knowing that Tua Tagovailoa — short on offensive weaponry on a good day — would be playing a must-win game without his top three playmakers on offense.
That seemed bad. After Miami spent half of the game with exactly zero points, not having enough good football players was confirmed to be bad.
Then, the Dolphins came out of halftime looking like a pound-the-rock-up-your-asses, leather-helmet-era juggernaut. The Patriots had no answers for it, so the Dolphins just kept running it.
After the dust settled on one of their best rushing attack performances in years, the Dolphins had turned a 6-0 halftime deficit into a 22-12 win.
Phewwwww. That was almost so bad!
Fins scored 22 in the 2nd half pic.twitter.com/6NTJ50hvap— Vic Damone Jr (@dagreatest33) December 20, 2020
The Dolphins' season-saving second half of offensive output turned what looked to be a disappointing loss that would have all but eliminated them from the postseason into a win that moved them to 9-5 and in control of their own destiny.
If the Dolphins win their last two games and finish 11-5, they're in the playoffs. No help needed. No Steve Kornacki and his magic maps required.
Dolphins have 242 rushing yards, fourth-most ever against the Patriots in the Belichick era pic.twitter.com/JckL1Unotr— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) December 20, 2020
It’s been 7 years since the Patriots were trampled on the ground like they were by the Dolphins today— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 20, 2020
The 250 rushing yards for the @MiamiDolphins today were the most allowed by the Patriots since Nov. 24, 2013 vs. Denver (280) and the fourth-most allowed since Belichick became head coach in 2000.— Brett Brecheisen (@bbrech) December 20, 2020
The second half was all about the run game. Salvon Ahmed — a running back for the Miami Dolphins — went over 100 yards rushing on the day, something no running back has done in two seasons. Matt Breida, the backup running back, had over 70 yards himself.
But the most important drives were sealed by Tua touchdowns. Just how Dolphins fans like it.
The Dolphins have the Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills left on their schedule. They need to beat both to make the playoffs. The Raiders are pretty bad and will likely be without their starting quarterback. The Buffalo Bills, having wrapped up the AFC East this weekend, will likely have little to play for and may rest their best players.
All the Dolphins need is to stop losing all their best players to injury, and this might actually happen. The Dolphins may play actual NFL Playoff football. Sunday was step one of a three-step process of getting there.
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