After a dominant Black Friday performance, the Dolphins have their eyes on winning AFC East
Miami improved to 8-3 with a dominant 34-13 win over the struggling New York Jets on Black Friday. The Dolphins are looking to win the AFC East for the first time since 2008, and then make a deep playoff push.
“The sky’s the limit for us,” Tagovailoa said. “Whatever we want to accomplish, everything’s right there in front of us and we basically turn it on fate here in this league. So, we just have to continue stacking those wins.”
The Dolphins have the benefit of a favorable schedule to close out the season: Four of their final five games are at home, where they are undefeated. Miami’s next three opponents have losing records, and the Dolphins have not lost to a team under .500 this season.
Against the Jets, Miami put up 395 yards of total offense despite turning the ball over three times for the second straight game. Tagovailoa was 21 of 30 for 243 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
“I feel good about my game. I’m not satisfied whatsoever about what I’m doing right now,” Tagovailoa said. “I know I have to continue to get better with that. Throughout these late stretches of having these games, we’re going to need better ball from me.”
The Dolphins also got another standout performance from their defense, which limited the Jets to just 159 total yards. Miami has held its opponent under 300 yards in four straight games.
Coach Mike McDaniel credited Miami’s recent defensive surge to players taking ownership of their responsibilities.
“As a result, we’re starting to have a team that’s complementing each other in all three phases,” McDaniel said. “You can’t just show up and say ‘We’re going to stop this’ or ‘We’re going to beat this’ to beat the Miami Dolphins. You have to deal with all sides of the ball.”
Run defense. A week after limiting the Las Vegas Raiders to their lowest rushing total (36 yards) in six seasons, the Dolphins held the Jets to 29 yards rushing on 10 carries. That's the fewest yards rushing Miami has allowed in a game since 2017. The Dolphins haven't allowed a team to surpass 110 yards rushing in 10 straight games, and since Week 2, Miami is third in the NFL in rushing defense.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Ball security. The Dolphins have turned the ball over six times in their past two games and haven't gone a game without a turnover since Week 3 against Denver. Tagovailoa was intercepted twice, and another giveaway came on a botched handoff to running back Darrynton Evans.
S Jevon Holland. He intercepted Jets quarterback Tim Boyle on a failed Hail Mary attempt on the final play of the first half and returned it 99 yards for a score. It was the third-longest interception return in franchise history and Holland’s first interception of the season.
Tagovailoa. After throwing two interceptions against the Jets, one of which was returned for a touchdown, Tagovailoa is responsible for multiple turnovers in three of Miami's past four games. His 10 interceptions also tie a career high. Although the turnovers ultimately didn't cost the Dolphins against a woeful Jets team, those could prove costly against a tougher opponent later in the season.
“I think it’s doing much more than what is asked,” Tagovailoa said. “Trying to be a little too aggressive on certain things. You just can’t do that.”
LB Jaelan Phillips will miss the rest of the season after tearing an Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter. Phillips was having a standout season after battling oblique and back injuries early on. He recorded 6 1/2 sacks, seven tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits and an interception in eight games.
Holland left with a knee injury in the fourth and left tackle Terron Armstead is week to week after injuring his quad. Miami has dealt with a multitude of injuries among its starting offensive linemen.
13 — Raheem Mostert ran for two more TDs to give him an NFL-best 13 on the season. That's also a career high for Mostert and the fourth-most rushing TDs in a single season in franchise history. Mostert also has two receiving TDs, bringing his total to 15, which is second in the NFL behind San Francisco's Christian McCaffrey.
The Dolphins will visit the Washington Commanders next Sunday in one of Miami's final two road games of the season.
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