AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
During Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card Game, Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel faced some scrutiny for a crucial delay of game penalty on fourth down on the team’s final possession.
After the game, McDaniel explained to reporters that he was informed the Dolphins had picked up a first down and by the time he realized it was fourth down, he couldn’t get a play call in before the flag was thrown.
“There was some communication that we’d gotten first down,” he said. “So then we were deploying a group of players for the 1st-and-10 call. Then it was articulated that, no, it was fourth down … I had gotten conflicted information that it was a first down; I don’t really know exactly who it was from.”
With 2:28 left in the fourth quarter, 4th-and-1 became 4th-and-6 for the Dolphins, who had driven to their own 48-yard line. The pass from rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson to tight end Mike Gesicki fell incomplete, allowing Buffalo to take over on downs and run out the clock.
For his part, McDaniel didn’t let the miscommunication change his positive outlook, adding: “It’s probably the first time all year that that had happened. You try to do your best. As it was, I thought we had a 4th-and-6 opportunity we were unable to come up with. You just have to adjust to any variables out there, and I thought we had a chance at 4th-and-6, as well.”
The blunder ended a valiant effort by the Dolphins, who entered Sunday’s matchup as 14-point underdogs. Miami running back Jeff Wilson Jr. scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that made for a nail-biting finish to the clash between AFC rivals.
Thompson threw for 220 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in his playoff debut. The Dolphins were held to just 42 rushing yards in the loss.
Miami will not be happy with how its season came to an end, but it should enter the offseason with optimism for the future. The Dolphins overcame a tumultuous 2022 campaign to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016, so the team is trending in the right direction.
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