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It ended a few minutes before midnight on a safety. Yes, a safety. Do you care? Does it matter? When you lose four in a row, when you are facing a make-or-break moment to your season, when you’ve got so much riding on one football game, it doesn’t matter how you win, as long you do.
Yes, a safety. You could make the argument that it was the most significant two points this franchise has seen in a long, long time. Perhaps ever.
Dolphins 22, Bengals 20. It all came down to Cameron Wake firing his body into the midsection of Andy Dalton at the Bengals goal line. The best defensive player on the Dolphins playing like the best defensive player, making maybe the biggest play of his career. Was it a safety or was Dalton tackled at the one-inch line? Replays confirmed the ruling. The Dolphins won a game they absolutely, positively had to win.
It was the sweetest of wake-up calls by a man named Wake. Slowed by a sprained knee for much of this season, Wake was finally himself again Thursday night. And the Dolphins needed every bit of him. He looked like a blur on that game-deciding play. He looked like a man who was tired of losing, tired of making excuses and ready to celebrate something sweet.
What a play! What a moment! Suddenly, the second half of this season offers promise or, at the very least, a chance to make things interesting in December. We didn’t have that before this night began.
Finally, you can exhale. Considering what this team has been through, considering what they have had to overcome, I’m not sure a 4-4 record ever felt this good.
So many storylines in this game. The Dolphins saw another 17-3 lead slip away, the second time that had happened in five days. First in New England, then against Cincinnati. Weird stuff happens on Halloween. But this time the Dolphins came back. This time there were more plays to make, more moments to seize.
This time there was Caleb Sturgis shaking off an earlier miss and tying the game at 20 with only 11 seconds left in regulation. This time the Dolphins were the ones making the plays in overtime. This time they refused to blink. Back and forth they went until Wake took matters into his own hands, until he put his head down and plowed into Dalton and handed the Dolphins a chance to make their season right again. That was Wake’s third sack of the game. I guess you could say he’s back.
So much to talk about. So much to savor.
• Brent Grimes returning an interception 94 yards for a touchdown to give the Dolphins a 17-3 lead. This little man is special. He makes plays. He is so confident, so sure of his skills. He took that interception and nobody was going to catch him. Did you hear the crowd explode? Electric stuff.
• Mike Wallace drew an important pass interference penalty in overtime and had a big 40-yard catch in regulation. No, it wasn’t the breakout performance we’ve been waiting for. But you get the feeling it’s going to come soon.
• Dimitri Patterson joins Grimes to give the Dolphins an outstanding set of starting cornerbacks. Patterson’s interception just before halftime was his fourth of the season. Think about that. He’s played in half of the eight games and already has as many interceptions as any Dolphins defender had all of last season. That’s pretty heady stuff.
• The running game took another huge step in the right direction. There was obviously a conscious effort to run the ball more and it paid dividends. The Dolphins had 10 more runs than passes in the first half alone. Lamar Miller had a strong game, finishing with 105 yards. His 41-yard run was brilliant, until it ended with a lost fumble.
• Yes, the offensive line gave up three sacks. But that’s an improvement for this group and the efficiency of the running game clearly helped.
• Sturgis desperately needed that game-tying kick at the end of regulation. After making 10 straight to start the season, he missed six of his next seven before converting his final two against the Bengals. On a team with such a small margin for error, an accurate placekicker can mean everything.
• Second-year tight end Michael Egnew has been one of the real surprises of this team and, truthfully, I never thought I’d be saying that. But the same player who looked confused and out of place as a rookie is now a solid contributor, who often serves as the lead blocker on running plays and who made a nice 13-yard catch against the Bengals. I’m not predicting stardom here, but he does have a chance to make it.
• Tannehill did not make any crucial mistakes and was solid throughout. Clearly, something to build upon.
And so the Dolphins have a nice break before playing Tampa Bay a week from Monday night. It’ll be a lot nicer now that they can remember what it feels like to win again.
On Monday, AC in the AM evaluates the Dolphins at the midseason point.
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.