In the NFL, winning in the month of December means being ready for the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins are still one Baltimore Ravens slip up away from making the playoffs and the road to make the playoffs wouldn’t be complete without having to play the Patriots, Bills, and Jets to finish the season with at worst a 9-7 record. Last season, the Dolphins won 7 games. At this point last year, they were eliminated from playoff contention.
On Sunday, with snowy conditions in Pittsburgh, the Dolphins defeated a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. The Dolphins defense who seemingly didn’t have an answer for Le’Veon Bell racking up yards on the first few drives, but found answers with Cam Wake forcing a fumble, multiple touchdowns from Charles Clay, Brian Hartline with a toe-tap touchdown, and a huge 55 yard run from Daniel Thomas. Not to mention, the Dolphins special teams unit created points with their own special teams ace, Jimmy Wilson forcing a blocked punt to give the Dolphins critical field position leading to improved field position.
If there was a game the Dolphins had labeled as must win, it was this game since it allowed the Dolphins to keep pace with the Ravens in the playoff race and increase their AFC conference record to 6-3. Overall at 7-6, the Dolphins have the Patriots in their way of showing the rest of the NFL viewing world that they are contenders.
Contenders win the big and difficult games to make the playoffs. Back in 2008, we saw the Dolphins accomplish this feat with the work of veteran Chad Pennington and a 5 game winning streak to finish the season at 11-5. However, he was more of stop gap measure until quarterback Chad Henne was ready and the season was more of a result of playing an easy schedule since coming off a 1-15 season.
Fast forward to this season: A quarterback Ryan Tannehill led Dolphin team is starting to take shape to the tune of 20 TDs and 14 interceptions. Despite the 48 sacks of Tannehill, the Dolphins have put him in the best position to win every game with the contributions of wide receiver Brian Hartline who’s proving he can get to the end zone, Charles Clay (first multiple touchdown game), and Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller who have made the most of their opportunities.
The win over the Steelers was monumental for the Dolphins simply because they went on the road, faced a potential playoff contender and two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback, and won with guts when the game was on the line.
This Dolphins team is 7-6, but they play at times like they are headed for 10-6. Maybe just maybe, the Dolphins make the playoffs and knock some teams off of their winning pedestal on their way to a playoff victory.