MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — There’s a snowstorm that forecasters say might bring several inches of snow to Kansas City…
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — There’s a snowstorm that forecasters say might bring several inches of snow to Kansas City later this week, and the low temperature there on Saturday night is expected to be somewhere around zero.
That’s now the cold reality for the Miami Dolphins.
They lost to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night in what essentially was the AFC East championship game — missing out on a chance to be the No. 2 seed and win a division title for the first time in 15 years. The final: Bills 21, Dolphins 14, and a Miami team that entered December with a 2 1/2-game lead in the division fell short in the end.
The last gasp came with 1:13 left, when Tua Tagovailoa — an MVP candidate, it seemed, for much of the season — threw his second interception of the night.
“We don’t have time to sulk,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “This is what happens in football.”
A short week awaits, and so do odds that’ll likely be piled considerably higher than that new snow in Kansas City will be next weekend. The Dolphins fell to No. 6 in the AFC and now have to pack the parkas and mittens for a trip to visit the Chiefs.
“We understand what was at stake tonight and we didn’t come through,” Tagovailoa said. “It started with me.”
Still unclear: who’ll actually be playing next weekend for Miami.
The Dolphins already knew they had lost top defenders Jaelan Phillips (Achilles tendon) and Bradley Chubb (knee) to season-ending injuries. Cornerback Xavien Howard was among those also out Sunday, along with the team’s touchdown-record-setting running back Raheem Mostert and speedy receiver Jaylen Waddle. A slew of other players, top receiver Tyreek Hill among them, are also dealing with injury issues — and Hill’s week also included a fire that caused significant damage to his home.
“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” Tagovailoa said. “There’s a lot of other teams that that have injuries that are going through some tough deals. So, we’re not making any excuses. No one’s going to make any excuses for us. You’ve just got to come back next week and be ready.”
And the injury matters got worse against the Bills with the departure of a pair of edge rushers. Andrew Van Ginkel left Sunday night with a foot injury and Cameron Goode was carted off with a knee injury, one that occurred on a 96-yard punt return touchdown by Buffalo’s Deonte Hardy that tied the game in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Jerome Baker was hobbling throughout the second half as well.
“I believe we have the right people in the building to respond to adversity,” Dolphins fullback Alec Ingold said. “I think that’s what we’re trained to do.”
For starters, it’s now 15 seasons and counting without an AFC East title for the Dolphins — the 2008 team finished 11-5 to win the division. New England won the first 11 AFC East crowns of that span, and Buffalo has now won the last four.
The only franchises that have gone longer than the Dolphins without winning a division title: Cleveland, Las Vegas and the New York Jets.
“It hurts,” McDaniel said. “It should.”
The Dolphins have used 13 starting quarterbacks in those 15 years, along with seven head coaches. There have been zero home playoff games, zero playoff wins and next weekend’s game will mark the third playoff appearance of that span.
The night was lost. The AFC East was lost. An 11-6 record still goes into the books as the best regular season for the Dolphins in 15 years, though that sort of perspective was difficult to find as the final seconds of Sunday night ticked away.
“I’m very confident that our players and coaches will turn their attention, full bore, to Kansas City,” McDaniel said. “That’s all we can do.”
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