It was only just over a month ago when Dolfans were preparing for the worst, with the team sitting at 1-4. Analysts up and down the country were already discussing which early first round selection the team would take next April - would it be a quarterback?
Yet 4 consecutive wins have well and truly placed Miami back in contention for the playoffs. This, coupled with the fact that the Dolphins are due to face teams that are beatable in the next few games, means the sky could very well be the limit. Let's check out which players' stocks were up and down after Sunday...
DeVante Parker - Wide Receiver
Who's DeVante Parker? Is he still on the roster? Parker has put himself back on the map with a performance that fortune tellers told me would be the norm when Miami drafted him in 2015. Parker has been criticized for his route-running, but he showed that his 6-3 frame and good catching ability can be dangerous on game-day. At the end of play, he made 103 yards off 5 catches and a long of 55 yards to tie up the game in the fourth.
Kiko Alonso - Linebacker
With just over 1 minute left on the clock, Kiko Alonso stepped up, made the interception and sprinted 60-yards for a touchdown, in what turned out to be the game-winning play. While he's arguably not playing better than his rookie season, Alonso is playing much better than expected. He's starting to become a key player for Miami - the quarterback on defense. Sign him up for next season.
Ryan Tannehill - Quarterback
Ok, let me say this. I've been critical of Tannehill for not going beyond a game-manager's duties. However, let me say this. Ryan Tannehill outclasses Phillip Rivers in this game. When it mattered the most, he pulled the big plays out of the bag and won the game for Miami. This time, receivers didn't drop countless passes. This time, they all showed up. At the end of the day, Tannehill made 17 of 24 passes for 2 touchdowns. How about that 39 yard pass to Kenny Stills for a touchdown? Or that pass to Damien Williams that put the team 21-17 up? DeVante Parker also joined the party with his 55-yard catch from Tannehill late in the fourth. Tannehill also reminded people of his sheer athleticism with his 18-yard run in the fourth, too. Oh, and he broke tackles while in the process. Tannehill showed he was more than a game-manager in this game. He was a game-winner. An important player for the team. He needs to continue to have these types of games if Miami are to make the playoffs. Well done, Ryan.
Tony Lippett - Cornerback
How is it that some of the recent draft picks by the Miami Dolphins are starting to look pretty darn good, even in the sixth round! Tony Lippett made two interceptions, including one that saved Miami in the end zone. He also had 2 penalties, but the player is still young, and learning. For such an inexperienced player, who is playing a different position in the big league, to college, he is doing just fine.
Stopping Melvin Gordon had to be close to priority number 1 (of which was stopping Phillip Rivers) for the Miami Dolphins. Gordon ran for only 70 yards from 24 attempts, and tackled him for a loss 4 times (including Earl Mitchell's important tackle on Miami's 1-yard line to push Gordon back 6 yards). Well played.
Jakeem Grant - Punt/Kickoff Returner
Jakeem Grant has been absolutely stellar for the organization this season. However the game against San Diego just wasn't his day. For one, he fumbled a punt near his own 5-yard line. There were other mistakes, too. But let's not dwell on these as it didn't end up hurting the Miami Dolphins in the grand scheme of things (thanks to Tony Lippett). Coach Gase has confirmed Grant will not lose his job in the next game. Time to go again next week, Grant.
Secondary Penalties - Bryon Maxwell, Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett
In Maxwell's defense, he didn't play too badly. He made plays when he had to. However, he also gave up two important penalties that gave the Chargers some long drives, yet he made 1 of 4 interceptions. This may be critical on Maxwell, but we saw last week against the Jets how Maxwell can give away penalties. He needs to cut these down, and get better in coverage. As for McCain, he had 4 penalties, while Lippett had 1. Had Miami played against a better team, this would have been disastrous for the team. Miami must do better in this area if they are to stand any chance of making the playoffs.
Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter@AlexParish89.