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Miami Dolphins

AC In The AM: Dolphins Deliver With Improbable OT Win

This was somewhere between incredible and unbelievable. You may want to throw in surreal as well.

The Dolphins were leading 35-12 early in the fourth quarter. They had played up until then about as well as they had all season. Go ahead and make a list and check it twice. There was very little naughty and a whole lot of nice.

Until it all came apart. And they had to go out and win it a second time.

Which they did. Finally.

On a 37-yard field goal by Jason Sanders as time expired in overtime, lifting the Dolphins to a 38-35 victory in one of the craziest games in team history.

You want a tie for Christmas? You very nearly got one.

But after that wild comeback by the Cincinnati Bengals, after Andy Dalton completed a 25-yard touchdown pass on the final play of regulation and then a two-point run to send it to overtime, it was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who brought the victory back to the Dolphins.

Completing some big passes on that game-winning drive in overtime, including a 28-yarder to Isaiah Ford that got them in field goal position, Fitzpatrick threw for 419 yards and four touchdowns in clearly his best performance of the season. As it turned out, he needed every yard of that.

"It's hard to win in this league," said coach Brian Flores. "We can play better but we found a way to win."

Found a way. Barely. Thankfully.

We can delve deep into what happened to turn this apparent runaway into an overtime thriller, how the defense just didn't step up, how the offense stopped making plays. But the bottom line is that this team somehow found a way, somehow gathered itself after getting outscored 23-0 in those final frantic minutes to pull out their fourth victory of the season, and certainly their most memorable one.

"That was tough for us to reset," said Fitzpatrick. "Whatever happened to our defense in regulation, they really stepped up in overtime. We have fought through a lot this year so it's fun to win a game like that."

Fun and heart pounding.

For so long, Fitzpatrick was the story of this game.

All he did was throw for three touchdowns and 252 yards – and that was just by halftime, the second most ever by a Dolphins quarterback in the first half of a game. 

I'm continually amazed at the consistency Fitzpatrick shows week after week, how he has embraced this young roster, how this young roster has embraced him, how he has developed such an important rapport with his receivers and how he has been so successful despite the lack of a productive rushing attack.

When you've got a 37-year-old, 15-year veteran playing with this type of passion, throwing his body around and celebrating like a kid after touchdowns, it can get downright contagious.

But this was far from a one-man show.

There was DeVante Parker continuing his breakout season with his ninth touchdown reception and a few more highlight reel catches to add to his growing collection.

There was tight end Mike Gesicki, catching two of Fitzpatrick's four touchdown passes, and giving him four for the season as he continues to make a second season statement. There was Ford, who made the most important play of the game in overtime and who finished with 5 catches for 68 yards and there was rookie defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who lined up at fullback in a goal line situation, and got a 1-yard touchdown catch out of it.

It is so impressive how this team comes at you so hard every week, how despite the fact that so many of these players are relative strangers to one another, this coaching staff has been able to forge ahead each week, teaching on the fly and somehow coming up with a respectable product.

The credit for this should start with Flores, who in his first year on the job has shown to be exactly what this franchise and this team needed: a passionate, well-organized, even-keeled coach who embraces the enormity of this challenge and approaches each day with the same enthusiasm and determination.

He needed all of that determination on Sunday. So did his team.

And now a season of major changes, weekly roster shuffling and readjusted priorities comes to an end this Sunday in New England. One more dose of the present before the future begins taking hold.

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