Merry Christmas, Miami Dolphins fans!
The Miami Dolphins defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Eve with a Jason Sanders field goal as time expired — giving the squad a 22-20 victory while running the team’s record to 11-4 and clinching a playoff berth in the process!
It was a wet, sloppy, hard-fought, beautiful, glorious and extremely satisfying win — the type of win that proves the 2023 version of the Miami Dolphins are serious contenders.
Until Sunday, the narrative surrounding this team was that of a squad that couldn’t defeat the “good” teams. Until they downed the Cowboys, the Dolphins were 0-3 against teams with winning records, while all of their wins came against opponents with more losses than victories.
The team was tired of the noise, and shut the critics up in a big way by taking out a 10-4 Dallas team that had lit up scoreboards all season long via quarterback Dak Prescott’s arm and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb’s big play ability.
This was a team victory. All three units — offense, defense and especially special teams — did their part. Miami earned this one, and gifted all of us Dolphins fans the best present we could have asked for this holiday season — the smiles, the warmth and the unbridled joy that comes along with a Miami Dolphins victory.
Now, let’s take a look back at the good, GREAT, and ugly from Miami’s 22-20 defeat of the Dallas Cowboys at Hard Rock Stadium in Week 16.
Multiple Dolphins players hit statistical milestones in playoff clinching victory
The Miami Dolphins have 11 wins in a single season for the first time in 15 years, and a lot of the team’s success can be attributed to the offensive wizardry on display each and every week.
With two games left to play, many Dolphins players have already hit significant statistical milestones for the season.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 293 yards against Dallas on Sunday — giving him 4,214 passing yards on the season so far. It is the first time the 25 year-old has thrown for over 4,000 yards in a single season during his NFL career. Tagovailoa’s numbers currently rank fifth for most passing yards any Dolphins quarterback has had in a season — and the most by anyone not named Dan Marino.
Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle only caught one pass on a day where he exited early due to a shin injury — more on that later. However, his lone reception went for 50 yards and allowed him to surpass the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the third consecutive season. He is the first Dolphins receiver in history to achieve that feat.
Running back Raheem Mostert had 46 hard-fought rushing yards against the Cowboys — allowing him to top 1,000 yards on the ground this year. It is the first time the 31 year-old back has exceeded that number in his 9 year career.
Jason Sanders nails five field goals including three from 50+ yards
Jason Sanders has had a shaky couple of seasons since his All-Pro year in 2020.
His accuracy on kicks from 50+ yards has been dreadful the past two years, so when Mike McDaniel elected to have Sanders line up for a 57 yard try early on in Miami’s pivotal game against Dallas, there was a jolt of trepidation that ran through the Dolphins fanbase.
However, McDaniel’s faith in his kicker paid off, as Sanders nailed the kick and gave Miami an early 3-0 lead.
What did Sanders do from there?
Oh, just casually nailed two more long distance field goals — 52 and 54 yarders — mixed in a shorter make, and then hit the game winner as time expired to secure the come-from-behind victory.
It was a clutch performance for the ages from Sanders — the kind of game that instills a significant amount of confidence in the player, his teammates and his coaches as the playoffs draw near.
Jaylen Waddle leaves game in 3rd quarter with shin injury
Jaylen Waddle just can’t catch a break.
After dealing with multiple injuries throughout the season, the young receiver left Sunday’s game against the Cowboys in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He was taken to the locker room for evaluation, yet eventually returned to the team’s bench. He did not re-enter the game, however.
Luckily, Miami had fellow receiver, Tyreek Hill, for this one, but he is also dealing with a lingering ankle issue.
The Dolphins are at their best when both of their stud receivers are on the field, so let’s hope this injury isn’t a serious one for the third year player. More information on Jaylen Waddle’s status will be provided during the week of practice leading up to Miami’s big game against the Baltimore Ravens this upcoming Sunday.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Next week’s recap articles will be delayed by a couple of days as I’m traveling for the holidays. Make sure you continue to support the site and my fellow writers by reading their fantastic articles in the meantime!
The Dolphins clinched a playoff berth on Sunday, but the season isn’t over and the job isn’t done. Next up is a big game against the Baltimore Ravens, with the AFC’s number one seed potentially on the line. With a victory, the Dolphins would also clinch the AFC East crown. Do you think they can go on the road and make it happen? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!