The Miami Dolphins sabotaged an easy run to the playoffs by suffering four straight losses and now need to win at least one of their last two games – if not both – in order to qualify for the tournament leading up to the Super Bowl.
And they will have to get there with their reserve quarterback behind center.
Tua Tagovailoa is under NFL concussion protocol after suffering a second traumatic brain injury this season. Teddy Bridgewater is expected to be the starting quarterback for the Dolphins (8-7) on Sunday against the New England Patriots (7-8).
The winner of this duel will have a good chance of participating in the playoffs. If the Patriots lose, they will be eliminated from the race. If the Dolphins lose, they’ll be in hot water.
“I’m happy to have the opportunity to play football, to play important football,” said Bridgewater, who hasn’t seen action since the sixth week of the season.
The Dolphins were 8-3 after winning a fifth straight game in Week 12 and the only intrigue was their chances of vying with the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East title. Four losses later, the Dolphins are in danger of missing the playoffs.
They will have to rely on Bridgewater since Tagovailoa is on the sidelines. He appeared to bang his head on the ground in the second quarter of a loss to the Green Bay Packers. He never left the game and was not immediately assessed for a concussion.
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said the team didn’t see anything serious during the game, but they saw signs after reviewing the game. Tagovailoa met with doctors on Monday and is undergoing NFL protocol after reporting concussion symptoms.
Running back Raheem Mostert said the team had no control over their bad luck.
« We can find reasons for the four losses, but there’s nothing to do when it comes to injuries, » he said. It’s like that.
“And I know it comes at a time when the games are important, but we just have to focus on our work to be done to win this week. »
Receiver Tyreek Hill said he was confident with Bridgewater’s abilities.
« He’s able to shine and all the guys have some cohesion with Teddy, » Hill said. He is a veteran and it can be useful to us. »
For their part, the Patriots have lost four of their last five games. The Dolphins’ collapse has kept them in the running as they hope to make the playoffs for the second time since the departure of star quarterback Tom Brady.
« We have to understand the opportunity that’s in front of us, » Patriots quarterback Mac Jones said. We have to understand the risk, what we want to get and give it our all. We have to play for each other and beat a very good team. »