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Dolphins Fans Hopeful Tua Tagovailoa Can Return for Playoffs After Ugly Win vs. Jets

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 08: Elandon Roberts #52 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after his team's 9-6 win against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Almost in spite of themselves, the Miami Dolphins are in the playoffs. They have kicker Jason Sanders, a stout defense and the Buffalo Bills to thank.

Sanders went 3-of-3 in his field-goal attempts on Sunday, including a 50-yarder with just 18 seconds remaining, to give the Dolphins a 11-6 win over the New York Jets.

The Dolphins added a safety on the final play of the game for the only non-field goal form of scoring in the contest.

Combined with the New England Patriots' 35-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the win propelled Miami (9-8) into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed.

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

The AFC playoff field is set:<br><br>1. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Chiefs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Chiefs</a><br>2. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bills?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bills</a> <br>3. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a> <br>4. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Jaguars?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Jaguars</a><br>5. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Chargers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Chargers</a> <br>6. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ravens?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ravens</a><br>7. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dolphins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Dolphins</a> <br><br>Wild-card games: MIA at BUF, BAL at CIN (no coin toss), LAC at JAX.<br><br>Neutral-site AFC Championship Game still in play.

And so, ugly as it was, the city of Miami had something to celebrate, returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2016:

Joy Taylor @JoyTaylorTalks

Well. It was hideous, but the Dolphins got it done.

josh houtz @houtz

that was the most dolphins way to make the playoffs

King of Phinland🐬👑 @KingOfPhinland

I don't care how it looked. I don't care how this season ended. The Miami Dolphins are in the playoffs and anything can happen in the playoffs. We have to get healthy quick, but the Miami Dolphins are in the playoffs‼️

Bobby Shouse @B_Shousejr

Only the Dolphins could clinch a playoff birth with this score 😭😭😭 <a href="https://t.co/569U1q9CuG">pic.twitter.com/569U1q9CuG</a>

JosinaAnderson @JosinaAnderson

Several <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dolphins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Dolphins</a> players letting out jubilant outburst on the way to locker room. Some tripping on the carpets in attempts to coordinate chest bumps. Still giving them a 10 for effort. 😎

The Napier Foundation™ @JusGettinBetter

Dolphin fans after dealing with the ups and downs of the regular season <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FinsUp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FinsUp</a> <a href="https://t.co/7Mj5T185nZ">pic.twitter.com/7Mj5T185nZ</a>

khi @stymeed

THE MIAMI DOLPHINS ARE PLAYOFF BOUND FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2016 RAHHHHHH <a href="https://t.co/TAdNe7bHLl">pic.twitter.com/TAdNe7bHLl</a>

Barry Jackson @flasportsbuzz

Congrats to all of you who predicted a horse collar, a key Salvon Ahmed run and a safety as notable developments in final 2:30 of Dolphins win

The reward for getting in is a date with the second-seeded Bills in Buffalo next week. The two teams split the two games they played during the regular season.

Of course, a key question is whether starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will be able to return for the playoffs after missing the past two games in the concussion protocol:

Barry Jackson @flasportsbuzz

Mostert left with thumb injury today. And we all await clarity on whether 3 doctors advance Tua through protocol <a href="https://t.co/sAUEqYfBhx">https://t.co/sAUEqYfBhx</a>

Will Manso @WillManso

Tyreek Hill says he asked Tua Tagovailoa if he's playing next week. He jokingly said Tua walked away. He said of course they'd love to have him back but they have confidence in all their QBs.

Matthew Bové @Matt_Bove

Okay, so who is playing QB for the Dolphins next week?

Judy Battista @judybattista

First round of AFC playoffs is going to center a lot on QB health. Can Lamar go for the Ravens? Will Tua be cleared for the Dolphins? Fascinating decisions coming this week.

King of Phinland🐬👑 @KingOfPhinland

PRAYER CIRCLE ALL WEEK LONG<br><br> 🕯 🕯<br> 🕯 🕯<br> Tua is able<br> 🕯 to play 🕯<br> next week<br> 🕯 🕯<br> 🕯 🕯

Throwing Samoan Fan @EliteTua

I hope UNO is ready for next week. Need him so badly.

Culture @JMVFanatics

Tua Tagovailoa, Please come back 🙏🏻

Tagovailoa's injuries in part have derailed what once felt like a promising season for the Dolphins after an 8-3 start. A five-game losing streak threatened to ruin that excellent start, but on Sunday, the Dolphins got the job done.

Sanders was the game MVP, but the defense held New York to just 187 total yards of offense and only 38 yards on the ground. The Dolphins, meanwhile, gashed the Jets defense to the tune of 162 rushing yards, taking the pressure off third-stringer Skylar Thompson (20-of-31 for 152 yards, one sack).

The Dolphins probably don't stand much of a chance against the Bills if Thompson has to go again next week. Teddy Bridgewater is dealing with a dislocated right pinky and an ongoing knee issue.

For the Dolphins to win, it's probably "Tua or bust." But that's next week's problem. For now, the team can enjoy getting into the dance, ugly as it was.