Many of the players watched the Chiefs’ victory over Denver intently, eager to solidify the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2008, but right tackle Ja’Wuan James was asleep. He normally calls it a night around 9 p.m. and was perfectly content to check the score in the morning.
Adam Gase said he had the game on at his house “kind of as background noise” while he dissected film from the Dolphins’ win over Buffalo the night before. Long snapper John Denney, a man who’s been here 12 years and sniffed the playoffs just once, watched it quietly on the couch with his wife.
“It was exciting, but there was no balloons or drinks,” he said. “It was kinda surreal, to be honest, like, ‘Wow, this is happening. It’s been a while. This is what we’ve been working for.’”
The only part of the game that elicited much from the players Monday was the enduring image of Kansas City’s 346-pound nose tackle Dontari Poe throwing a jump pass at the goal line to become the heaviest player in NFL history to record a touchdown pass.
“That was pretty good, man,” said Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, a svelte 310 pounds by comparison. “That was awesome. I would definitely love to have that opportunity. That was amazing. Good for him.”
Several players, including Jarvis Landry, were livelier on Twitter at the end of the Chiefs game, but Monday’s subdued atmosphere was centered mainly on the upcoming game against New England.
The Dolphins will go into the playoffs as the No. 5 or 6 seed and open on the road regardless of what happens Sunday (1 p.m., CBS). The only thing they can change is their first-round opponent, with a likely preference to visit Houston instead of Pittsburgh.
Players weren’t talking about that, obviously, and there wasn’t much interest in any topic other than the Patriots. Most weren’t even willing to contemplate the tremendous achievement of rebounding from a 1-4 start to clinch a playoff berth with a week to spare.
“I don’t think there’s any right now,” James said of the sense of achievement the team might feel. “Keep staying 1-0 and take it week by week. The world wants us to think like that and take us off track, but we’re gonna keep doing what we’re doing.”
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