Dolphins clinch final AFC playoff berth with win over Jets, will face Bills again in postseason

The Miami Dolphins are heading to the postseason for the first time in six years.

Miami secured the final playoff berth in the AFC on Sunday, thanks to its 11-6 win over the New York Jets and the New England Patriots’ 35-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

The Dolphins (9-8, No. 7) will travel to Buffalo next weekend to take on the division rival Bills (13-3, No. 2) on Super Wild Card Weekend.

To sneak into the playoffs on the regular season’s final day, the Dolphins had to snap a five-game losing streak with a third-string quarterback (Skylar Thompson) under center. They did so by the skin of their fins, with Jason Sanders‘ 50-yard field goal with 18 seconds proving the difference in Sunday’s slog against the Jets. Miami tacked on a safety on the game’s final play, a failed series of Jets laterals.

The Dolphins are the first team to win a game to clinch a playoff spot without scoring a touchdown in that game, per NFL Research

Miami’s return to the postseason is their first since 2016, when coach Adam Gase, in his first season, took backup quarterback Matt Moore and the Dolphins to Pittsburgh in the wild-card round, and just their third in 21 years. Each of those times was with a first-year coach (Mike McDaniel, Gase, Tony Sparano).

“Well, I would say it feels tremendous,” McDaniel said after the game. “That doesn’t mean that that wasn’t the goal, was just to get to the playoffs, however, understanding all involved — you’re talking about people that have been within the organization for 30-plus years, you talk about a fan base that hasn’t seen their team go to the playoffs since 2016, you just talk about a lot of people involved, it’s very fulfilling for the way it happened.”

In their previous two meetings with the AFC East champion Bills this year, the Dolphins won at home, 21-19, in Week 3 and fell in Orchard Park, 32-29, more recently in Week 15. Miami is 1-3 all-time in the postseason against the Bills, and 0-2 in Orchard Park.

Who the quarterback will be for Miami next week remains a pressing question. Tua Tagovailoa remains in concussion protocol, and McDaniel said after Sunday’s win that there was still no timeline for his return. Teddy Bridgewater was active Sunday but sidelined by knee and finger injuries, forcing Thompson, a seventh-round rookie out of Kansas State, to make just his second-career start against the Jets. Mike Glennon was elevated from Miami’s practice squad and could be again next week.

“We’ll continue to take it day by day,” McDaniel said of Tagovailoa, “and I will not even think about any sort of game, whether that’s this year or next year, until he’s fully ready to do so, and that comes with medical clearance.

“There will be some question marks, but fortunately this team has proven not to blink in any sort of question marks either way. We have guys that we really believe in, and we’ll go with the healthiest group up to Buffalo and play a very good football team.”

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