In week 15, the Miami Dolphins faced a crucially important task if they were to keep their playoff hopes alive: Beat the New England Patriots. Entering Sunday, the Dolphins held the number six seed in the AFC and needed a win to secure that for yet another week. But, they’d have to get that victory over Tom Brady and his crew.
The tough thing for New England now is going to be playing without tight end Rob Gronkowski, but Sunday that wasn’t the reason for the Patriots ultimately losing the game. Brady spread the ball around, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola each ended with over 100 yards and the Patriots’ offense amassed over 450 total yards.
The difference? A Brady interception and Ryan Tannehill’s fourth quarter clutch gene.
After receiving the ball at the 40-yard line due to a kick going out of bounds, Tannehill had the ball with just over four minutes remaining and his team down 20-17. Tannehill was sacked for a loss of six yards on the very first play of that drive, but following the sack he completed five straight passes leading the Dolphins down to the Patriots’ 14-yard line.
Two plays later, Tannehill hit Marcus Thigpen for a 14-yard touchdown to put Miami up 24-20 with just over a minute to go in the game. Brady led the Patriots down to the Dolphins’ 14-yard line — ironically enough — where the drive ultimately stalled. Four straight incompletions — including one on a play called back due to a penalty — led to one last play for the Patriots.
Brady fired a pass that was intercepted by safety Michael Thomas to seal the game, and Tannehill’s fourth quarter drive stood to be the game-winner.
For Miami, this win is an absolute giant one. Not only did they hold onto their sixth and final playoff spot for another week, but they did it with a close win over one of the best teams in the conference that happened to be a divisional rival. Tannehill finished with 312 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception, as the Dolphins saw their young quarterback have one of the best games of his two-year career.
Now riding three straight victories, Miami finishes up their season with games against their other two divisional rivals which should give them a bit of confidence, as both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets haven’t looked all that scary in recent weeks. It looks as though all of the drama in Miami this year could be put to rest as this club marches their way into the playoffs thanks to a late season run.