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Isn’t it great to smile again? After two weeks of the wrong kind of headlines, after losing five of their previous six games, after all the off-the-field controversy and the headaches that goes with it, the Miami Dolphins can take a deep breath and actually savor something.
How important was Sunday’s 20-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers? It may have saved the season. Yes, that’s how important.
At the very least, it certainly gave this football team some much-needed life at a time when there so little to feel good about, so much to second-guess, so many issues to deal with.
This was a win the Dolphins, plain and simple, had to have and that’s the way they played. With urgency. With desperation. With a confident mindset. With a go-for-it mentality. So what if the offensive line was bone thin. So what if center Mike Pouncey had to call in sick. So what if they struggled at times, and could have sealed this deal long before they did. Somehow they had to endure, had to overcome, had to find a way.
You didn’t think this team was going to travel the easy route did you?
And now? The Dolphins are at 5-5 and while it probably isn’t the record you were hoping for after 10 games – certainly not after a 3-0 start to the season – it does put them back in the playoff conversation and, with another home game Sunday against Carolina, you just never now what the big picture ramifications of a win like this could be.
At least now they get a chance to find out. At least, for a few hours on Sunday, they got to replace the staleness of the past few weeks with the smell of fresh air. At least now, December looks like it may just matter after all.
How did they do it? I guess you could say this was a victory molded out of Clay. That’s Clay as in Charles Clay.
The game was tied at 10. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill hits tight end/fullback/H-back Charles Clay with a short pass over the middle. What happened next was as inspirational as it was impressive. First, Clay literally runs over safety Marcus Gilchrist. I mean the poor guy didn’t have a chance. You almost expected to see tire tracks all over Gilchrist. It was a hit-and-run accident that was no accident.
Then, a heartbeat later, inside linebacker Donald Butler has a clear shot at Clay, an easy tackle. But not on this day. Not on this play. Clay literally runs through the tackle attempt, like a man against a boy. The result of it all was a scintillating 39-yard touchdown play that gave the Dolphins the lead for good and clearly cemented Clay’s status as the most improved player on this team. This play was about desire and determination. It was about a football team that clearly had had enough.
Sure, there were some hairy moments after that. The Chargers at one point cut the lead to 17-16 with a pair of field goals and then had a chance to pull out the win in the final seconds. But a last play throw from Phillip Rivers landed harmlessly in the end zone and as the crowd erupted, the Dolphins literally danced off the field.
No, the off-the-field nightmare won’t go away anytime soon. Yes, this is still a football team filled with flaws, a team that struggles to find balance on offense, a team that inexplicably can’t consistently stop the run, a team battling to locate enough workable pieces on the offensive line.
But it’s so much easier to deal with all of those concerns after a victory like Sunday’s. This team could have folded. These players could have easily let the doubts creep into their locker room. But somehow they persevered. Somehow, they focused and re-focused. Somehow, they came up with enough important plays to win a game they had to win.
And save a season that desperately needed saving.
On Tuesday, AC in the AM takes a look back at this victory and ahead to the Carolina game.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.