Read the full postgame transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.
(Obviously, that was a tough one. What did you tell your team just now?) – "That it's a result-oriented business, but there's good and bad from it. I think guys were so invested, coaches and players alike, and we had a very good performance against a very, very good team. OK? We almost did it because of preparation. I think there's a little in-game stuff that I really want to improve on, where when someone makes a play, the next play, you're not down – you're ready to compete for the next play. I think we let some plays snowball for some of the game. That's to the credit of the Buffalo Bills, that is a really, really good football team that plays hard and is fundamentally sound. That's why they're so hard to beat at home. On the positive side, I think that is night and day from the football we've played since the bye. So had we played like that for the whole season, we'd be feeling a lot different because it wouldn't be the third loss in a row. So I think perspective is important and I think there's stuff to learn from it. It's a gut check for sure, but I know the guys aspire to be great. Well, this is one thing that only great people can do is really go all in, really invest, spend a lot of time and do everything the right way and still come up short. That's football – that's what happens when you play really good football teams on their home turf."
Obviously, you want to run the football in this game. It's been tough sledding last couple of weeks, what were you able to do tonight, to get that running game as effective as it was?) – "I think it started with the running backs. They knew it was their time; they wanted to carry the load. They had the right mindset, and it's a credit to the offensive line for really going after a team that plays hard, that if you don't go after they make you look pretty stupid, pretty fast. So I think that – I'm not sure what we ended up with, but anytime you play a team and whatever week it is, the 14th or 15th week of the season, and they've given up I think three games around 150 (rushing yards) and everything else below that rushing, they should be proud of it because it was deliberate work that was collected. The wideouts were blocking, the quarterback was doing a good job."
(Do you feel you got away from the ground game a little bit as the game went on? Do you wish you would have stuck with it a little more?) – "I mean you have to – in a game like that, you have to kind of stay ahead of what the defense is doing. I think when they adjust – we had to give them a reason to play single safety. I think they played four snaps of man the first time we played them. So you have a choice – you can either play scared, or you can try to you know continue doing what your offense is built to do and if they're blitzing five-man pressures to stop the run, it's going to get ugly. I was fine with the way the game went and I think all of our players would, if given the opportunity, the offensive line and the running backs believe in our receivers and quarterback, and you have to play to each other and take what the defense is getting giving you."
(How would you describe what you saw taking place on that final drive? Were there any thoughts to let the Bills score once they got so close to the end zone?) – "Yeah, there was a thought, but I mean, that's the reason if you guys were watching the game, they didn't score a touchdown and they went to third-and-1 and then they kneeled it. So yeah, there was thought to it, but they weren't going to allow us to do that. They get paid too and they're pretty smart coaches. We were trying to – once they got past the long field goal, that was obviously the thought, but they were going to make sure that the field was the last play the game, so credit to them. They did what they needed to do to win the football game."
(Leading up to the game, the weather played a huge role and factor. I want to know because once the elements really came down, it seems like that's when the game kind of got away. So how much impact do you attribute to weather?) – "I don't at all, no. I mean, it was a football game. Yeah, it did start snowing. I think we moved the ball to the high 40-yard line and we threw a slant that wasn't complete, so then we had to punt. I know a lot of people would like to make it about the weather; our team never did. It was cool for you guys to talk about, but it was more about football players on the football field, because again, any competitor worth their weight, you're playing in the same elements."
(To compete at this level in those wintery conditions, does that give this team confidence going forward would you have to…?) – "I think it's cool to go through the first time of snow game. It's really exciting. They had to feel questions about it all week and I don't think they – we do play football in a warmer weather city, but I think at least we can put that to rest. For the guys that hadn't played in a snow or cold game, it's cool to get that under their belt."
(An opposite weather question would be that once it started snowing in that last sequence, you showed no hesitation in putting it in the air several times and you were able to succeed at doing that. What does that tell you about this offense's effectiveness, your confidence in QB Tua Tagovailoa and all that?) – "I think they would – they all wanted to do that. They kind of knew they'd be geared up to stop the run, and they looked at it like they had to win the game. I think they expected to, and we thought we had a chance to go put it in our hands. I think offensively, they really wanted that and just came up short. I really had a ton of confidence in Jason (Sanders), so we were really hoping on that last third down to get seven or eight yards to put us in a situation to try to get points, and we were unable to which was unfortunate."
(From the beginning of season, you won three straight, so you kind of had a cushion as far as win loss record. You have three games left and it's hyping up that these three games are going to be very important moving forward. Are you confident with your team bouncing back from this one and being able to close the deal?) – "I feel the same way that I (felt) the last three week. The one thing that I will say about our team is they were not feeling like they had a cushion – they've gone after it. I don't think that has changed; it just makes it real tough which makes it more worth it if you're able to do it. It makes it more difficult, for sure, because you keep getting the wind knocked out of you. The players have given me no reason thus far to expect anything other than the high resolve and determination to finish the season off right. I mean, shoot, you've got a home game coming up. Here's the thing with football – there's no such thing as a season without adversity, because you either experience it, work through it and then are able to continue winning games, or you don't have it and then you lose at the end of the season. So it's adverse either way. My main goal is coaches and players to see what I expect from them, which is tough-minded people with resolve and determination and aren't going to let the idea that (it) being hard be the reason that they can't progress. I mean that that should be the – to me, the second something gets difficult, you know you have a chance to do something that others can't. That's kind of a – from a competitor's perspective, it should be a heck of an opportunity that I expect and I'm pretty confident that we'll see from our team."
(What was going on with S Jevon Holland and WR Jaylen Waddle, two guys that ended up coming back in the game?) – "There were some dings that I don't totally know the story of. One was pretty – (Jaylen) Waddle, I really don't even know what the diagnosis was, something with his hand. Jevon (Holland), he's such a competitor. I've never seen him go out, so he ended up finishing the game. We'll have more news on that, I don't know when my press conference is but in the future."
(What did you notice about your team's performance in the red zone today? What went wrong in the red zone today?) – "It's a good defense – the Buffalo Bills tried to not let us score, unfortunately. There's some execution issues. There was one contested ball that you hope somebody can make a great one. There was one that one of our – we're not in the situation to compete for this game if we don't have Trent Sherfield, and the ball bounces some ways sometimes. Other than that, I believe we had a rushing touchdown. It's just in games like that, guys will look back on that, you can kind of count points that way, but it's also the game evolves and is a circumstance of situations. You're not going to make every play. I thought guys did a good job. There were just a couple times that the Buffalo Bills were better than the Miami Dolphins. So they win, we lose."
(How critical was that sequence where LB Jaelan Phillips and DT Christian Wilkins combined on the strip sack fumble, and you only got three out of it?) – I mean, technically every time we got three and not seven, you could say that lost the game – they're all critical. That's what the accountable people – as an accountable coach, that's the way you approach it and you hope the players match that accountability, which they have all season. So I think every single time that we kicked the field goal, from our standpoint, we would say, 'Hey, that lost the game.' And then you'd expect the defense to say, 'Hey, no. That shouldn't have mattered, and that's enough points.' So I think that mutual accountability is the only way that you can really do what everybody with the Miami Dolphins fanbase and the organization really want to do. We've got a game next week, and that's really all you can control. Right now, I think it would be weak minded of any player or coach on the Miami Dolphins to have less confidence from this game going into next week – that would just mean that they're sick of being vulnerable. And if I have any say in that, that will not be the case. But they need to learn from this, they need to learn that the game in 60 minutes and that's where I see real opportunity for growth more than anything. It's not a turnover that we got, or it's not a field goal instead of touchdown. To me, I saw hands down, frustration that I don't want to see. People are going to make plays, especially good teams. So you've got to get used to really wanting to win and dealing with the consequences, even in drive, because they have to score. They have to be in the end zone. So that's where I can see coaches and players need to improve from this game, because I think if that didn't occur, ironically, before watching it, I think we would have won the game – that was the biggest failure."
(Were the snowballs distracting?) – "The officials did a great job. I was just more concerned with the safety when there's ice balls flying at people's heads, and I think that's what they were concerned with as well. There were several people that got hit – it's whatever."