1) Game-changing plays
There were numerous explosive plays that led to Miami’s 37-31 victory over the Eagles on Sunday. Big plays in the passing game, special teams heroics and defensive breakups were the norm, not the exception. The Dolphins just kept playing and their team discipline and execution was the difference. Wide out DeVante Parker played his best game as a Miami Dolphin, catching seven passes for a career-high 159 yards and three touchdowns. Parker took control of the sky, grabbing catch after catch away from multiple Eagles defenders. His run after catch skills and athletic ability also were on display on his first touchdown, toe-tapping 20 yards down the sideline all the way to the end zone. Tight end Mike Gesicki is growing into a target teams now must game plan for and identify where he’s lined up on every play. Gesicki also snagged receptions away from the Philly secondary, grabbing five catches for 79 yards and a score. His toughness catching the football is showing up with more consistency and becoming a habit instead of a one-time occurrence. The special teams have been fun to watch all season, and the fake field goal was a thing of beauty. Punter Matt Haack’s flip to placekicker Jason Sanders might go down as the most successful fake of the season! It rescued a struggling red zone effort by the offense and turned it into points.
2) Fitz does it again
The decision to turn back to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter of week five provided the veteran another chance to shine, and he’s making the most out of his extended playing time. Fitz has lifted the expectations of the entire team, playing with the energy and passion that is contagious, and his execution against the Eagles was elite. He led the offense back from two double-digit deficits, and was the main reason the Dolphins scored on six consecutive drives. The drive to start the third quarter was arguably the best series for the Dolphins offense this season. Ryan completed a perfect five for five on the drive and covered 64 yards through the air. He capped it off with a Parker 17-yard TD. Fitzpatrick posted the 19th 300-yard passing game of his career Sunday, throwing for 365 yards and three touchdowns. It’s the second time in the past three games that Fitzpatrick has thrown for 300-plus yards.
3) Team embracing grit of Flores
This roster might not have the overall talent to compete every week at a high level, but this group has learned how to battle from start to finish. They are willing to work and accept the coaching that this staff is offering, and it’s starting to show up on a consistent basis throughout game day. They didn’t blink when Fitzpatrick threw an opening play interception that the Eagles offense converted into points just three plays later. Didn’t flinch when the on-side kick to start the third quarter gave Philadelphia’s offense instant field position at the Dolphins 47-yard line, and seven plays later, fell 14 points behind. Ahead 34-28, they didn’t hesitate to allow Fitzpatrick to throw a slant on fourth-and-one from their own 38-yard line late in the fourth quarter that led to a 51 yard field goal by Jason Sanders. Brian Flores has never wavered from what he believes in or what it takes to win consistently in this league. He and his coaching staff have been willing to coach aggressively and preach discipline, and his team is starting to play that way week to week.