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Despite success, 2020 season ends on sour note for the Miami Dolphins

The last game of Brian Flores’ second season looked a lot like his first three games at the helm of the Miami Dolphins.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The story of the 2020 Miami Dolphins is certainly an unpredictable one. It is hard to imagine a 10-win team missing the cut for the playoffs — especially with the league kicking the tires on a new format that allowed seven teams from each conference to earn a spot in the dance.

Miami’s hype train was ahead of schedule in 2020. The team had a chance to prove they belonged and Brian Flores, the team’s second-year head coach, was viewed as a potential coach of the year candidate.

With one game left in a year most will never forget, the Dolphins had a chance to prove they belonged in the same breathe as the AFC’s best, but a 28-point second quarter and a 21-point fourth quarter by the Bills will be a lasting memory until the 2021 season is underway.

Doom and gloom is the last way to identify the direction of the Miami Dolphins, but Sunday’s game was a reminder that winning is a challenge.

Brian Flores had the opportunity to dial up a plan to slow down Josh Allen and Buffalo’s offense — at least until the backups came in. There could’ve been stories about the pre-game speech that instilled confidence in a young team, but that wasn’t the case.

Tua Tagovailoa, who certainly helped the Dolphins win throughout the year, had a solid rookie season despite the lack of numbers that shined like sixth-overall pick Justin Herbert. Coming into the season, especially after Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson opted, it was clear Miami lacked playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.

However, with an opportunity to showcase a bit of magic, Tagovailoa looked like a long list of quarterbacks not named Dan Marino to struggled at the tail-end to the season. Not only did he have three interceptions, but the rookie hadn’t averaged more than 6.6 yards per attempt since early December.

A win would’ve locked the Dolphins into the fifth seed. A win may have been the difference between just one primetime game in 2021 compared to potentially three or four. With a win, the legend of Flores and Tagovailoa would’ve reached new levels.

It takes time to adjust the lens from week-by-week to year-by-year when talking about a football team. Keep in mind, from the third-overall pick in the 2021 draft and a rookie class that out-kicked expectations, there is a lot to like about the Miami Dolphins and this team certainly doesn’t feel like the same ol’ Dolphins.

However, Sunday’s loss to the Bills is a sign that those feelings can’t be eviscerated just yet and there is plenty of work to be done before the Dolphins are playing football deep into January.