Dolphins Clinch Playoffs, Play To Win Vs Pats

I can't remember what I was doing when our 'Phins were playoff-relevant, let alone wild-card-bound.

The Bills losing to backup/former Dolphins QB Matt Moore is something analogous to Star Wars' "Return of the Jedi." In 2011, Moore was the starting quarterback for Miami, when they swept the season vs. Buffalo. With certainty, Moore promised to lead us back to the playoffs after a season-ending knee injury was suffered by starting QB Ryan Tannehill. So far, he has been a man of his word, with the looming 13-2 Patriots in week 17.

A special shout out to ex-Dolphins personnel Dan Carpenter, who missed key field goals in regular time and overtime.

We have won the last 2 of 3, winning convincingly over the Jets and coming back against Buffalo. We needed the lesson taught from the New York Giants, who lost control of their playoff destiny when they lost to the Eagles. We clinch a definite playoff berth if the Denver Broncos lose either of the last two games. I'm Moore thinking WHEN the Broncos lose one of these last two. Let's review both sides of a victorious Christmas Eve:

-"Backup" Central: We watched our 2nd-stringers perform admirably in a clutch situation. Backup quarterback, backup center and a few offensive linemen? Backup defensive personnel? No problem. Second-stringers giving us a first-string win. Despite having the smaller numbers in total yards and time of possession, we made quality plays when it counted on both sides of the line;

-Ground-Led Offense: Our former 2nd-stringer RB Jay Ajayi had another 200-yard game, highlighted by a stiff-arming touchdown through Buffalo's #38, DB Sergio Brown. Kenyan Drake had the run of the day, curling back 5 yards before running down the sideline for 6 points. The offense ran an even, honest game, keeping the Bills' defense on its heels with two rushing and two throwing TDs. Also, thank you Andrew Franks for those extra points and field goals;

-Heart: The little rumble on the Bills' sideline when Bills K Dan Carpenter pushed 2nd-string RB Kenyan Drake out of bounds. Carpenter was probably the last Bills player with a shot to stop Drake from running back a TD. Bills and Dolphins turns into more than a game for a few seconds. Nothing like eye-to-eye and no helmets. WR DeVante Parker bounced through a hit to run for another TD in the 3rd quarter;

-Defense: While we had no sacks or fumble recoveries, it was an all-around "bend-but-not- break" effort. Not great, but the defense clutched when it mattered most: killing both Bills' OT drives. While we are a stout defense vs the pass @ either 10th-11th in the league, our ground defense ranks almost last, over Cleveland or the 49ers @ 30th. We have to play a better short- or middle-yardage defense, especially against the Patriots. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will use every exposed weakness to their advantage.

Next up, it's like we've been training all season for game # 17, a graduation test of our mettle vs one of the league's leaders elite, the New England Patriots.



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