So far this season the Miami Dolphins had looked unstoppable on their way to a No. 1 draft pick and Tua Tagovailoa. But their tank rumbled over a potential minefield on Sunday: a matchup with Washington, one of a small handful of teams that might be nearly as bad as the Dolphins, and the only team that might be as dysfunctional. Which team could suck the hardest when the sucking really counted? This game promised the biggest drama of the early slate, and boy did it deliver.
For most of the game, things went Miami’s way—that way being “poorly.”
Earlier this week, Josh Rosen was asked what a victory would bring him. His answer: “Just sort of joy, life.” That’s incredibly depressing, but maybe not as depressing as what this game actually brought him.
To start the fourth quarter, with the Dolphins down 17-3, Rosen was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick. There was no injury announced; it was purely for performance, as Rosen was 18-for-25 for 85 yards with two interceptions. Though it’s hard to properly evaluate Rosen, given the complete lack of talent in front of him and surrounding him, checkdowns certainly weren’t going to complete a miracle comeback. (Always remember: Players and coaches don’t tank, front offices do.)
But Fitzpatrick, playing alongside that same lack of talent, led a touchdown drive! And the Dolphins tried an onside kick! (It failed.) It was all very exciting, and nailbiting, and with two other winless teams watching this one, whichever team managed to bumblefuck its way to a victory would have been in a huge hole in the race for the top draft pick.
And so Fitzpatrick ran a flawless two-minute drill, finally connecting with DeVante Parker for a TD pass that made it a one-point game with six seconds left. Head coach Brian Flores called for a two-point conversion, because 1) no one wanted to be out there any longer than usual, 2) if this game went to OT it would have ended in a tie, and 3) when you’ve got that Fitzmagic working, you let it work.
The tank for Tua may have ultimately come down to one play:
A terrible play call, terribly executed: that’s Miami Dolphins football.
With their 16-17 victory, the Dolphins advance to 0-5, neck and neck with the Jets and Bengals. The bad-luck Skins fall to 1-5. That’s okay, Washington already has a young quarterback they hate and whom they’ll ruin. They don’t need another one.