The Miami Dolphins secured the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs with a 11-6 win over the New York Jets in front of their home crowd on Sunday.
The Dolphins’ win — capped off by a 50-yard Jason Sanders field goal with seconds remaining— along with the Patriots’ 35-23 loss to Buffalo, locked Miami into the final spot in the AFC bracket.
It gave coach Mike McDaniel a playoff berth in his first season as an NFL head coach.
“It feels tremendous. But the goal wasn’t just to get to the playoffs,” McDaniel told reporters, “however, considering all that’s involved, a fan base that hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2016, it’s very fulfilling,”
After a tumultuous 9-8 regular season, Miami will face the No. 2 seed Bills in Buffalo in the Wild Card Round. The Dolphins defeated the Bills in Week 3 at home but lost at Buffalo in Week 15.
The main focus for Miami headed into the playoff likely will be the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who missed Week 17 and 18.
“We’ll take it day by day. And I will not think about any game — whether this year or next year — until he’s fully ready,” McDaniel told reporters after the Dolphins’ win, “and that will require medical clearance.”
Tagovailoa suffered his second concussion of the season during a Week 16 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
With regular backup Teddy Bridgewater (finger/knee) unable to start due to injury on Sunday, Miami turned to Skylar Thompson — a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Thompson finished with just 152 yards passing and no touchdowns but led the team down the field and into field-goal range with just minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Along with Miami’s win and the Patriots’ loss, Baltimore’s loss to Cincinnati officially locked in the AFC’s playoff seeding and matchups (dates and times yet to be set):
No. 2 seed Bills vs. No. 7 seed Dolphins
No. 3 seed Bengals vs. No. 6 seed Ravens
No. 4 seed Jaguars vs. No. 5 seed Chargers
The No. 1 seed Chiefs will get a bye in the Wild Card Round, though, in an unprecedented situation, they might not host the AFC Championship if the game is against the Bills.
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