It was only two months ago that the Miami Dolphins held the top spot in the AFC East standings. Now, the Dolphins are on the outside looking in on the AFC playoff picture.
The Dolphins dropped out of the No. 7 seed in the AFC following their 23-21 road loss to the New England Patriots in Week 17, which was a contest where miscues on offense marred their performance on the day.
With Tua Tagovailoa ruled out for the game due to a concussion, Miami called on Teddy Bridgewater to anchor the offense, but his time on the field was cut short after he suffered a finger injury during the third quarter. Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel then handed the keys to the offense over to Skylar Thompson, and the third-string quarterback did make it interesting late after he connected with tight end Mike Gesicki for a 4-yard touchdown. In the end, the Patriots prevailed for their eighth win of the season.
For McDaniel, it was “frustrating” to see the team make it five losses in a row.
“Definitely didn’t expect this,” McDaniel said during his post-game press conference. “It’s pretty frustrating, we’ve got a lot of guys laying it on the line. You want to get the results you feel like the team deserves and should get, and you come up short.”
At the least, McDaniel has come away with plenty of learning lessons from the team's active losing streak.
“You learn a lot,” McDaniel said. “I know that from the whole spectrum really, football nuances, how I really want to approach the team – these things are not standard set in stone for me. … I also do know that there’s a certain degree of problem-solving that I enjoy about this profession and this job in particular.
“And I also know that it does give me confidence in a weird way because I’m motivated by trying to dig people out of tough spots, and I know it’s not something that I – you never know how these types of things are going to feel. You’re not excited about putting yourself in a position to (say), ‘OK, what’s it going to feel to lose five straight?'”
The attention for the Dolphins now turns to Week 18, and for Miami to make the playoffs, it needs to defeat the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills must secure a home victory against the Patriots.