Streakbusters: Miami’s win over New England was important for a variety of reasons. Not only did it give the Dolphins (8-6) sole possession of the final wild-card spot in the AFC, but it ended New England’s four years of dominance over the Dolphins. The Patriots won seven straight over Miami before Sunday’s defeat. New England was a thorn in Miami’s side for a long time, and the Dolphins finally overcame their nemesis. Miami closed the gap between the two teams by forcing a season split.
Tannehill surging: Miami second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed moxie with a game-winning drive over the Patriots. He was 6-of-8 passing for 60 yards and a touchdown on the Dolphins’ clutch drive that won the game late in the fourth quarter. Tannehill threw for 312 yards with three touchdowns and is starting to look like the long-term solution. Sunday marked Tannehill’s first win over Tom Brady in four attempts. Tannehill now has wins this year over Brady, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger.
Wild card control: The Dolphins now control whether they will get the final wild card spot in the AFC. The simplest formula for Miami is to win its final two games to finish 10-6. If the Baltimore Ravens (7-6) also run the table, they will forge a three-way tie with Miami and the Cincinnati Bengals (9-5), who play the Ravens in the regular-season final. In that scenario, the Ravens will be the AFC North champions, the Dolphins get the wild card and the Bengals are out. Miami also can get in by winning the final two weeks and Baltimore losing at least one of its final three games.
Winnable stretch: On paper, the Dolphins have a relatively easy remaining schedule. Miami will travel to play the Buffalo Bills (5-9) next week and host the New York Jets (6-8) in the regular-season finale. But the Dolphins cannot take either game lightly. The Bills beat the Dolphins in Miami earlier this season.