In a weekend of gifts, the one that kept giving got the Dolphins in the AFC Playoffs for the first time since 2008. After getting both the Ravens and the Broncos losses on Christmas night, Miami at 10-5 is firmly in before even having to host the Patriots Sunday.
The Fins had already taken care of their part with a thrilling 34-31 Overtime Christmas Eve win in Buffalo. They then watched the Steelers rally in the final seconds to defeat the Ravens, and Sunday night late in K.C., the Chiefs handled the Broncos easily 33-10 to punch Miami’s ticket.
It’s nothing short of an amazing reversal after starting 1-4 with a first time-first year head coach, Adam Gase, to turn around and win nine of ten games and get in the post-season. Gase took control of his locker room after the 1-4 start by releasing a couple of under-performing offensive linemen, including one starter and shaking it up.
But, without question, the Dolphin turnaround was clearly ignited by Jay Ajayi’s back to back 200 yard rush games against the Steelers and Bills in October. He got another 200+ in the Saturday OT win and became just the fourth NFL back to ever have three 200 yard games in the same season.
Also impressive, is after losing Ryan Tannehill in the second half of the home last second win over the Cardinals three games ago, Gase turned things to back up Matt Moore who played brilliantly against the Jets and then, the Bills to get to 10 wins.
Say what you want about those three opponents, they were games that had to be won and the Dolphins found a way.
Now, they will likely see the Steelers again in two weeks. This, as the NFL announced that not only had Pittsburgh secured their division title and home game Sunday night but, have the tiebreaker over Houston (the South champs) and that means they are the #3 seed in the AFC.
Miami will likely be the #6 seed, as they trail the Chiefs by one game going into week 17.
Finally, the NFL had been waiting for Sunday’s action to finish to determine whether the Fins home game with New England would remain at 1 p.m. next Sunday. But, because the Dolphins are now in and the Patriots have locked up the AFC East and a bye for the playoffs, there was no reason to “flex” the game to a later time.