By Byler Henry
Saturday was a wildly exciting and thrilling game between the Dolphins and the Raiders which the Dolphins ended up winning 26 to 25. With the victory, the Dolphins moved to 10-5 which keeps them in the seventh playoff spot. However, there is one game left this season. To secure their spot in the playoffs, the Dolphins must win next Sunday at Buffalo. Head Coach Brian Flores offers his thoughts on Miami’s win, “Obviously, everyone was really excited playing a game like that. A meaningful game for us and them. Look, there’s ups and downs and ebbs and flows within the game. It was a lot of excitement in the locker room. Guys are fired up. It’s a good group. They want to perform for one another, and we were able to pull this one out and make enough plays to win.” It seemed as if Raiders were going to win off a field goal. A questionable pass interference call put them in range, and with 23 seconds on the clock it looked like it was over.
Throughout the game there were fluctuating performances from Miami. Both offense and defense would make big plays when needed, but they would also miss opportunities when needed. During the first half it looked like the Raiders were going to walk away with a win after having a 13 to 6 lead at halftime, and effortlessly moving the ball. After suffering a groin injury on their last game against the Chargers, Derek Carr came out and had an excellent game passing for 336 yards, completing 21 of 34 passes (61.8%), and a touchdown. Two Raider receivers were able to gain over 100 yards, Nelson Agholor with 155 yards and Darren Waller for 112 yards. The Raiders were also able to gain 104 rushing yards and a touchdown. De-spite these monster stats Miami’s defense was able to hold the Raiders to only 2 touchdowns (one rushing and one passing), sacking Carr 3 times.
Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa started for Miami completing 17 of 22 passes (77.3%) for 94 yards and a touchdown. With a win needed to stay in the playoffs, and feeling the team needed a spark, Ryan Fitzpatrick entered the game with about 9:47 remaining and took over the rest of the 4th quarter. Providing some Fitzmagic, he was able to complete 9 of 13 passes (69.2%) for 182 yards and a touchdown. With 19 seconds on the clock, Fitzpatrick completed a 34-yard-deep pass to Mack Hollins while getting his facemask yanked. This resulted in a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, setting up a 44-yard field goal, which Jason Sanders made. Head Coach Brian Flores compared Ryan Fitzpatrick to a 9th inning reliever, and Fitz looked like it tonight. He came in like the relief pitcher in the ninth inning of a baseball game and delivered the win, while keeping the game close. Fitzpatrick offersed his thoughts on his big pass in the fourth, “I think the odds were pretty low there of us to be able to complete something with the proper yardage and not have to throw a Hail Mary but actually kick a field goal. I didn’t know that it was complete. As you guys saw, my facemask was getting pulled and my head was getting rip-ped off. I turned around to say ‘Hey, facemask,’ just to make sure they saw it. I think Jesse Davis, or maybe Myles (Gaskin) had to tell me that it was complete, but I didn’t know that we completed it.”
With one more game left in this season, winning these last two guarantees them their spot in the playoffs. This last game is tough, as Buffalo leads the AFC East and is playing very well this season. Although the Dol-phins won, there were still some mistakes that they need to clean up and capitalize on red zone opportunities. Any-thing can happen on any given Sunday and a win is definitely possible for the Phins.