The Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots on Sunday, using the Week 15 schedule to make up for a Week 1 loss to their AFC East rivals. The Dolphins did not start as quickly as they had in recent games, trailing 6-0 at halftime, but they were able to find a rhythm in the second half and put the Patriots away, largely using a rushing attack that had more success on Sunday than it had all season. Miami’s win keeps them firmly in the playoff picture, while also eliminating the Patriots from postseason contention.
The Dolphins were definitely not perfect during the game, but they were good. They came away with the win, they did what they had to do, and they are ready to keep fighting for the playoffs next week as they head to Nevada to face the Las Vegas Raiders.
Today, we take a look back at the game through our weekly stock watch, with only one stock down for the weekend:
Stock down: Injuries – DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant, Mike Gesicki, Myles Gaskin, Ereck Flowers. All starters who were unavailable on Sunday for the Dolphins. Parker, Williams, Grant, Gesicki, and Gaskin represented the top five players in receptions for the Dolphins heading into the game. Injuries are decimating the team late in the season. They are somehow fighting through it, showing more depth than maybe even they realized they had, but the injuries are taking a toll.
Stock up: Brian Flores, head coach – Year two of the Flores era in Miami has moved the team from a 5-11 club torn down to the foundation to a 9-5 team, in the playoff picture, and ready to compete with just about anyone. Flores has rebuilt the Dolphins, has buy-in from the players, and looks like the coach who will (a) be the long term solution for the Dolphins coaching carousel and (b) is the coach who best can shake off the stigma of Bill Belichick coaching-tree failures. Flores should be the Coach of the Year.
Stock up: Xavien Howard, cornerback – Howard should already be named the Defensive Player of the Year. In a rare game where Howard was unable to record an interception – he is still leading the league with nine picks on the year – he made an impact by forcing a fumble, with Elandon Roberts recovering the loose ball. Howard actually had a gorgeous 86-yard touchdown return on a fumble recovery earlier in the game, but the play was called back on replay when it showed the ball bounced off the hip of Christian Wilkins just as he stepped out of bounds. Howard is a menace in the Miami secondary. Teams are throwing away from him, and he is still having an impact on every single game.
Stock up: Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida, running backs – Ahmed ran for 122 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first Dolphins player to run for over 100 yards in two years. Breida ran for 86 yards. The two of them were a huge part of the team’s 250-yard rushing day. The Dolphins may have been without Gaskin again, but they sure found something in the running game.
Stock up: Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback – The rookie starter for the Dolphins did not have a great passing day, going 20-for-26 for 145 yards with an interception, giving him a 73.4 passer rating. But, again, the Dolphins did not have Parker, Williams, Grant, Gesicki, or Gaskin for the game, and he was relying on Durham Smythe, Lynn Bowden, Jr., Mack Hollins, Isaiah Ford, Adam Shaheen, Patrick Laird, and Salvon Ahmed to catch passes. They did fine, but it was not the easiest day for Tagovailoa through the air. Tagovailoa did not have to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, though. He had to lead. He had to make plays. And he did that. He scrambled for a touchdown and he took a quarterback sneak in for another score. Tagovailoa did what needed to be done to win the game, and that is exactly why his stock continues to rise.
Stock up: Offensive line – The line is solid, which is an improvement over the past several years. They are not great, but they could grow into being great. With Ereck Flowers still out, the injury to Solomon Kindley could have destroyed Miami – especially in a game where the team was clearly running behind Kindley. Instead, Michael Deiter came into the game and did not miss a beat. The team continued to find success and the line still played a solid ending to the game.