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Newcomer Thomas Cements His Place In History

Posted Dec 15, 2013

Young cornerback picked off Tom Brady to seal Miami’s win.



His teammates were still learning Michael Thomas’ name on Friday when he was working with the scout team in preparation for today’s big game against the New England Patriots. Everyone in the nation knows who he is now.

Thomas was thrust into the secondary at the most critical time of this division showdown after starting cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll were lost to injury. All he faced was trying to protect a four-point lead with barely a minute remaining against Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history with a slew of fourth-quarter comebacks on his resume.

So Thomas ignored the fact that this was his first game in an NFL uniform and the fact that New England had beaten Miami seven straight times and read Brady’s eyes on a 4th-and-5 with seven seconds left in the clock. He drifted over into the area of the end zone Brady was targeting and intercepted the pass to seal the Dolphins’ 24-20 victory.

“It was just like situational football,” said Thomas with a big smile on his face in the locker room after the win. “Any defense would be playing not to give up a touchdown at that point and that’s all I was doing, eyeing Brady, he threw it and I had to make a play.”

Four plays earlier on the same drive, Thomas knocked the ball out of Danny Amendola’s hands in the right corner of the end zone at the last second on a first down to prevent a touchdown. He still didn’t have the entire Dolphins defense down having come over from the San Francisco 49ers practice squad on Tuesday but that didn’t stop him from answering the bell when he was called upon.

After he secured the pass in the end zone for the touchback, Thomas was smothered by his teammates with two seconds still on the clock and a Ryan Tannehill kneel down all that separated Miami from an 8-6 record. Suddenly, he was mobbed by reporters and television cameras at his locker and then pulled away for more interviews, forcing him to wait about 45 minutes to get in the shower – and his teammates loved it.

“Michael Jordan?” said wide receiver Mike Wallace when asked if he even knew who Thomas was before the game. “That just lets you know, the coaches say every week you never know who’s going to step up. All he did was ball. He showed up on Tuesday and came to work on Sunday so that’s probable the best week of his life.”

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake is a big fan of underdog stories like this one having been one himself. Now he is a leader on that defense but he had a special appreciation for Thomas and what he was able to accomplish.

“Not a lot of guys know what that’s like but I know because I got that, ‘Hey you, get in there’ before,” Wake said. “This league, there are so many good players and so many chances where you’re going to have to make the most of your opportunity. It’s so cliché but you get that one chance to stand up and I’m sure maybe a couple of weeks ago things weren’t exactly the way he wanted them to be. But here he is, he gets thrown in the fire and how much more could you ask for. I’m proud of him and I’m glad he’s on my side.”

Thomas credited safeties Chris Clemons for directing him out there and giving him the play calls to make sure he was in the right spot. He played collegiately at Stanford and those who knew him, like wide receiver Marlon Moore, talked about his intelligence and it transferred into the game.

“I knew being the new guy Tom Brady was going to come after me,” Thomas said. “He’s a great quarterback and he’s going to see where the new guy is at and I had to be sure I was ready. Words can’t explain how this feels. Everybody trusted me enough to actually go out there and make that type of play and this is huge to me I’m going to remember this one for the rest of my life.”