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Dolphins clinch winning season; keep playoff hopes alive

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For the first time since 2008 the Miami Dolphins will finish the regular season with a winning record. That welcome development was assured after the Dolphins drubbed the New York Jets 34-13 in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Saturday night.

By improving their record to 9-5, Miami also stayed in the playoff hunt in the AFC.

The Jets made a game of it for a half, trailing only 13-10 at intermission, but Miami put up three touchdowns in the third quarter to turn the game into a laugher. Though New York finished the game with more total yards, Miami was far more successful at getting into the end zone.

After spotting New York a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, quarterback Matt Moore, filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill, took over. He threw four touchdown passes on the night, a career high, including a 52-yard strike to Kenny Stills and a 66-yard scoring play to Jarvis Landry that put the game out of reach.

Walt Aiken got the second half going with a blocked punt and a return for a touchdown to make is 20-10.

The Dolphins are catching the Jets at the right time. Right now, New York is a dreadful team.

They are looking for some semblance of respectable quarterback play, but going between Bryce Petty and Ryan Fitzpatrick has not been the answer. A 4-10 record, including just 1-6 at home, is Exhibit A.

The Dolphin defense knocked Petty out of the game in the second half and harassed Fitzpatrick into a 17.1 quarterback rating the remainder of the game. Things are a bit brighter for the Miami quarterback situation, at least for this week.

Moore was 12 for 18, good for 236 yards and the four touchdowns. He threw one interception.

While these are good numbers against the Jets, he has two more games to win that will hopefully get the Dolphins into the playoffs.  Next up is a winnable game in Buffalo against the fading Bills on Christmas Eve.

Some are saying Tannehill could possibly play in the team’s final game, a showdown with the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. It is more likely that Miami will pin many of their post season hopes on Moore.

The obscure backup quarterback has the chance to make the most significant contribution of his career. His next step comes in one week.

 

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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