Dolphins take a big step in an ascent that no team has yet made

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Finally, above the line.

Finally relevant.

Finally, under control.

Just like the fight song says.

It was a tough climb but the dolphins somehow made it. In beating the New Orleans Saints leftovers 20-3 on Monday night, the Dolphins have gone where no team has gone before: 1-7 to 8-7.

They now hold the No.7 spot in the AFC standings, having knocked the Baltimore Ravens off the top of the critical line between teams on the course for the playoffs and those whose course involves golf.

7th Sky :5 takeaways from the Dolphins’ Monday night win over the Saints

Game replay:A look back at Dolphins vs. Saints

Good start for the dolphins:Ian Book’s second pass in the NFL was an interception. Watch Dolphins’ Nik Needham send him back for a touchdown

Take the napkin, draw the flag:Why did Alvin Kamara push Christian Wilkins to the back of the head? The Dolphin stole his briefcase.

A lot of work awaits us. As difficult as it was in the past for this team to win a game, let alone seven in a row, things only get complicated with the two remaining assignments: at Tennessee and at home against New England.

Win both and Miami is in the playoffs, period. A beautiful thing, isn’t it? Regardless of how the rest of the season unfolds, there will be at least one asterisk associated with this team.

* Never gave up.

Dolphin safety Brandon Jones (29) celebrates with Jevon Holland (8) after intercepting a pass from Saints quarterback Ian Book in Monday night's win in New Orleans.

This is where the warm and fuzzy part of this story takes a turn, as we have to be realistic about what happened in the Superdome. Letting a win cover up warts only invites future losses, and as we all know, this team’s margin for error dried up a long time ago.

It would be nice to tell the hell the torpedoes (and the bettors) and say the Dolphins can definitely go to Nashville and let Ryan Tannehill sing a sad country tune, then come home and knock their playoff ticket against Bill. Belichick & Co.

It would be nice to say it, but these are the Dolphins, who have already been kicked out of the playoff gate. After watching this offense spit against the Saints – after seeing the offensive line return to September form and seeing Tua Tagovailoa vomit another misguided prayer that was intercepted – try to concoct any possible eventuality for those last two Sundays that would shock you. .

You can count on the defense of the Dolphins

There is one, and only one: the Miami defense is failing its end of the bargain. No chance of that happening.

Granted, the D was going against the Saints’ JV, but it was still a Sean Payton offense that was limited to three runs, 164 total yards and 0 for 12 on the third down, not to mention eight sacks conceded. . It is football playoffs. Heck, the way this unit performed during the winning streak is championship football.

“I’m sure Flo will have some fixes,” said linebacker Jerome Baker in what can only be called a half-joke.

The part about not needing help making it to the playoffs? This is news for the players, they would have you believe it, even now staying in tune with Brian Flores’ tunnel vision. Flores, for her part after the game, reflected on the adversity the team endured during the seven-game losing streak.

Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah puts pressure on Saints quarterback Ian Book during the first half of Monday's game.

“I think it revealed a lot of things,” said Flores. “I would say that revealed the character of the guys in our locker room. Revealed that some people are with you and some people were on the fence.”

Were these riders part of the team? Or was he going after unbelievers who thought a 1-7 team was hopeless just because every other 1-7 team throughout history was just that? Asked to clarify, Flores did not.

“I have always believed in this team – our players, our coaches,” he said. “Maybe there were some people who didn’t share that same belief and I understand why.”

Undefeated since Halloween

The Dolphins are celebrating New Years in the playoff position despite a spooky return flight from Buffalo on Halloween, after suffering their seventh straight loss. What kind of odds would you need at that point to put even $ 1 on a bet they wouldn’t lose again that calendar year? Maybe 100-1? Or 1000-1?

Monday night’s win means there’s no need to look at a scoreboard unless the scoreboard has lit “Miami”.

Miami is now on, okay, the first team in NFL history to have seven straight wins and lose seven in a row in the same season. Say whatever you want, but at least this team is cohesive.

Without the Kansas City Chiefs, who have won eight in a row, Miami would be the league’s most prominent team. “Biggest single variable,” NBC’s Steve Kornacki called the Dolphins in the AFC playoff photo on Sunday night. When the guys in the network roll up their sleeves for you, it’s a step forward, especially after the Dolphins were nationally ignored until, oh, five minutes ago.

Unfortunately, the first look that much of the nation had at these dolphins was not convincing enough. The Dolphins, facing a Saints team that had 16 players on the COVID roster, including their top two quarterbacks, waited until the end of the third quarter to end fears of leaving the Saints hanging out too long. The teams doing that, in this building, regret it, but the Miami Defense sharks kept circling around, as if they were getting closer to something special.

The intuition here is that every player down to the last knew exactly what the stakes were and what the stakes are.

While wiping his forehead with Alvin Kamara’s towel, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said of the playoff photo: “You hear rumbles here and there.”

Not here and there.

Just here.


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