The Miami Dolphins are back in the AFC playoff picture, and there was plenty to love from their victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
The Miami Dolphins are one of the hottest teams in football. They are the first team in NFL history to follow a seven-game losing streak with a seven-game winning streak, and have played themselves right back in to an AFC Playoff Picture that they had no business being a part of in the first place.
Their performance on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints was dominant, though the Saints were missing players up and down their roster due to covid protocols. But a win is a win in the NFL, and seven in a row is impressive no matter which way you try to turn it.
The defense was as usual the difference on the night, their pick-6 and eight sacks of the quarterback bailing out a mediocre performance from the offense. There are plenty of kudos to go around to players like Nik Needham, Christian Wilkins, and Jerome Baker, and deservedly so. But let’s give some praise to the players who made the plays on offense that ultimately resulted in a victory.
Here are three things to love from the Miami Dolphins victory over the Saints on Monday night.
1. Jaylen Waddle’s record chasing/setting night
Monday night was Jaylen Waddle’s first opportunity to play in front of a national audience, and he wound up having the best performance of any Miami Dolphins player. The first-year wide receiver had ten catches, passing Michael Thomas and moving in to second place on the list for most catches by a rookie in NFL history. He needs just six more grabs over Miami’s final two games in order to surpass Anquan Boldin’s 2003 performance.
Waddle also broke the Dolphins’ team record for most receiving yards by a rookie by passing Chris Chambers, as well as tied Jerry Rice for the most catches by a rookie on Monday Night Football.
2. Tua’s Resilience
It was another average-to-subpar performance from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but one of his best traits was on display yet again on Monday night.
The Dolphins had an opportunity to put the game away on their first offensive possession of the second half, when Tagovailoa threw a bone-headed interception on one of his few deep passes on the evening. It was the one stupid mistake per game that we have come to expect from Tua, but it was his response that ultimately sealed the game for Miami. It seems that his best performances come after a mistake and while facing adversity, and such was the case again as he led the offense on a nine play, 86-yard drive that ended in the victory-sealing touchdown.
3. Waddle, again
The play of the night probably goes to Mack Hollins and Tua Tagovailoa for their connection on the aforementioned 86-yard drive, but it was the hustle from Jaylen Waddle that may have saved the game early on.
On a crucial third down in the red zone in the first quarter, Tagovailoa was sacked and had the ball stripped by Marcus Davenport. The ball bounced backwards, and it looked as though two Saints players had the first beat on it. But Waddle broke from his route and sprinted more than fifteen yards and dove on the ball first, allowing Miami to recover and remain in reasonable field goal range. Waddle used his blazing speed and showed off brilliant hustle, saving the Dolphins three points and a potential momentum shift early in the game.