The Miami Dolphins won the coin toss for their Week 7 game against the Buffalo Bills and deferred until the second half. That allowed the Bills to receive the opening kickoff, a touchback four-yards deep in the endzone. On the first down play from the 25-yard line, running back Frank Gore picked up eight yards. On the second-down play, quarterback Josh Allen threw incomplete on a pass targeting wide receiver Cole Beasley across the middle of the field. Those two plays took the clock down to 14:27 remaining in the first half.
The game was officially 33 seconds old. And that was all of the game in which Miami rookie defensive tackle Christian Wilkins would participate. Wilkins was ejected after the incomplete pass for throwing a punch.
christian wilkins tossed after one play. perfect. pic.twitter.com/HP8EpGQYEM— josh houtz (@houtz) October 20, 2019
Wilkins took exception to continuing to be blocked after the play had ended and threw a punch toward the head of Bills tackle Cody Ford. Miami was forced to change plans for the defensive line, including moving defensive end Charles Harris inside to play more of a defensive tackle role, with their first-round pick out of the game after 33 seconds.
“It just happened so quickly, it was only the second play of the game,” Wilkins told the media after the game. “I just tried to come into the game with some energy on edge and just fired up. It’s an emotional game, so again like I said it all happened so fast but there’s no place for it in this game and just no place for it for me because I don’t want that reputation on myself. That’s not something I’m proud of, that’s not something I intended on doing coming into this game or anything like that. I just really let myself down and the team more importantly, you know, it’s just a learning experience, too, you live and you learn. That’s just a message to myself, a learning experience for my teammates and also a learning experience for people watching at home, kids watching at home. There’s no place for it, you have to play the game the right way.”
Head coach Brian Flores was asked about Wilkins’ ejection after the game as well, explaining, “Yeah, I mean look if you want to win a game on the road in a tough environment, and the first thing you got to do is try to play penalty free and play a discipline ball game. We didn’t do that right from the start. I expect a lot of Christian, already talked to him about that, he knows that. We got to be better now. Period. I don’t think we are asking for too much on that.”
Wilkins, who has 18 tackles and one pass defensed through six game this season, was pulled out of the team’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers earlier this season after he was called for unnecessary roughness for a suplex of running back Austin Ekeler. The move cost Miami 15 yards and Wilkins landed on the bench for a couple of series.
“I can’t do that,” Wilkins said after that game. “It’s a big picture and a bigger deal. That doesn’t just cost me, it cost my teammates. It’s just another learning experience, rookie mistake. Just learn from everything. I didn’t know you couldn’t really do that. I didn’t know there could be a flag or anything like that. But now I do know that. It won’t do that again. But it’s definitely a learning experience.”
After the punch landed him in the locker room, where he said he watched the remaining 59:27 of the game, Wilkins again pointed to the game being bigger than just him and how his penalty cost his teammates. “I was just really extremely selfish,” he stated. “This is the ultimate team sport, it’s not just about me and I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in myself about something, especially something that was in my control. It really, really shouldn’t have happened, there’s no place for it in this game and that is not the standard I hold myself to. Because I love this game I try to respect this game as much as possible and play it as competitively as possible. This game is meant to be competitive, not combative at all. I really let myself down and my teammates down in just a selfish moment so early in the game.”
Miami lost the game 31-21, dropping to 0-6 on the season. They face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football next week, a game which will hopefully include Wilkins for at least 34 seconds.