MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Albert Wilson took "dress how you want to be addressed" to heart Sunday. He rocked a clean Detroit Lions throwback Barry Sanders jersey to Hard Rock Stadium and went on to pull off his best impression of the Hall of Fame running back with a career day in an overtime victory over the Chicago Bears.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase had a clear plan for Wilson, whom Miami signed to a three-year, $24 million deal in free agency. He started the season as the team’s No. 4 receiver, which led to many questions about his role, but has emerged as the team’s top playmaker and leading receiver.
Wilson proves his value by breaking ankles and zig-zagging throughout defenses, as he did with two big fourth-quarter touchdowns Sunday, each to tie the game, and a career-high 155 receiving yards.
It was only the second 100-yard receiving game of his five-year NFL career. Of those 155 yards, 138 of those were YAC, yards after the catch.
“I’m the best YAC receiver in the league, for sure,” Wilson told ESPN after the game. “Team is looking for me to make those plays. That’s what I’m here for.”
The highlight was a 75-yard touchdown in which Wilson made six defenders miss. One drive earlier, he had a 43-yard touchdown on a return route.
"When I made that cut, it was showtime," Wilson said. "I put my right foot in the ground and said nobody is tackling me."
Gase lit up when discussing what it's like to watch Wilson in the open field.
“Any time we can get him the ball and he has just a little bit of space, that’s what is a possibility of happening. It might be 6 yards, but it might be 60," Gase said. "He’s a strong runner when he gets the ball in his hands. It’s hard for guys to tackle him because he’s built like a running back, but he’s a wide receiver. He can run all of the routes and do all of those things. He can get into the backfield and run the ball. He’s tough, physical. He’s fast, I know that.”
Wilson was second in the NFL with an average of five yards after catch per reception last season, trailing just the Lions' Golden Tate. This season, Wilson is averaging 14.57 yards after catch per reception so far, per TruMedia. That's by far the most in the NFL. In fact, 335 of his 359 receiving yards have been YAC.
Both of Wilson's touchdowns Sunday had an expected combined YAC of 10 yards, per Next Generation Stats. He gained 114 YAC on them.
"Definitely the best game of my career. Definitely not going to be the best game of my career," Wilson said. "There’s more coming. Just wait on it."
Running back Frank Gore added: "Albert is special, man. He’s built like a running back. Get him in the open field and it’s over."
The Dolphins have been one of the best teams in the NFL in yards after catch. Sunday was their big display as 274 of their 380 passing yards came after the catch.
Fill-in quarterback Brock Osweiler got a huge boost from those 274 yards after the catch, which were the most by a quarterback in a game this season, and fifth-most by any NFL quarterback in the past 10 years.
"Fantastic. I absolutely love it," Osweiler joked.
For a Miami offense that hasn't yet found the rhythm to march up and down the field, these explosive plays from their best playmakers have played a huge role in their 4-2 record.
Wilson and several other players players have praised Gase's genius in scheming them open. Wilson and receiver Jakeem Grant are on pace to shatter their previous career highs.
Wilson leads the Dolphins with 359 receiving yards on 23 catches. He's on pace to finish 43 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards. His previous career high is 554 yards on 42 catches last season in Kansas City. Grant is on pace to double his career-high in receiving.
"When I’m in the open field, I don’t feel like anybody can catch me," Wilson said.
Sanders just might approve of this message.