ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.—Miami is now one game away from clinching a playoff berth.
The Dolphins’ 34-31 win in overtime at Buffalo this afternoon put them at 10-5 and on the cusp of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2008. If the Broncos lose on Sunday or Miami wins next weekend against the Patriots, Adam Gase’s team will be in the playoffs after starting the year 1-4. There are other scenarios that get the Dolphins in as well, but those are the simplest.
Here are five takeaways from today’s victory:
1. Miami knew what it needed and came out swinging.
It’s been a while since the Dolphins played like this. They came into Buffalo needing a win to help solidify their playoff candidacy and took what was theirs. Jay Ajayi and Matt Moore got everything going early, and the defense — most notably Ndamukong Suh — was flying around. It was exactly the aggressive performance real playoff teams deliver against inferior opponents.
2. Jay Ajayi loves the Bills.
Ajayi got back over 100 yards for the first time in seven games by pummeling Buffalo for 206 on 32 carries, including a two-yard score. Add that to his October game of 214 and a touchdown, and it’s easy to see why this is his favorite opponent. The Dolphins were counting on that showing from him against one of the worst run defenses in the league, and it helped them close out the game.
3. Not amazing, not terrible, Matt Moore gets the job done.
This is all the Dolphins need from Moore right now: Keep everything steady, take what’s there and don’t make any crippling mistakes. For the second straight week, he fit that job description well. Moore’s only miscue against the Bills was an interception in the end zone near the end of the first half, which cost Miami the chance to score some points but not much else since Buffalo didn’t have enough time to capitalize on the turnover. Moore finished the day 16 of 30 for 233 yards with two touchdowns and the pick.
4. The debate about NFL Comeback Player of the Year is over.
If Cameron Wake were candid, even he might admit he’s a little surprised by what he’s been able to do at nearly 35 years old coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon. Wake picked up another sack today, raising his season total to 11.5. That gives him the team record for most sacks in a player’s first eight seasons and it’s top-five in the NFL this year, which is a big reason he earned a starting spot in the Pro Bowl. Perhaps the Dolphins’ plan to ease him toward a full workload early in the season worked, or maybe he could’ve been doing this all along.
5. So is the Coach of the Year conversation.
Not only has Gase taken a team that went 6-10 to at least 10 wins, the job he’s done within the season has been outstanding. The Dolphins have won nine of their last 10 games after that miserable start, and they’ve done it without several key starters. They’ve survived the past two weeks without Ryan Tannehill. Gase has done it with an air attack, he’s done it relying on the ground game and he’s done it without the offensive line he expected. No coach in the league has outperformed expectations or done more with less.
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