The Miami Dolphins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 22-20 on Sunday, December 24th in a thrilling game that came down to the final play. Jason Sanders kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Dolphins to victory and clinch their first playoff berth since 2016.
The game featured plenty of drama between two playoff hopeful teams. The Cowboys entered the game in control of the NFC East at 10-4, while the 8-6 Dolphins were fighting for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.
Dallas struck first with a 48-yard Brett Maher field goal in the first quarter. Miami responded with a touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle to take a 7-3 lead. The Cowboys retook the lead 10-7 early in the second quarter on a Dak Prescott rushing touchdown.
The Dolphins grabbed momentum with an impressive 97-yard touchdown drive finished off by a Jeff Wilson Jr. rushing score to go up 14-10 at halftime. In the second half, neither team could find the end zone as Sanders and Maher traded field goals. Miami held a 17-13 lead with under seven minutes remaining.
Prescott connected with CeeDee Lamb for a 2-yard touchdown with just over three minutes left to give Dallas a 20-17 advantage. After the Miami offense stalled, the Cowboys had a chance to run out the clock but were stopped on third down, giving the Dolphins one last shot from their own 36-yard line with 1:50 remaining.
Tagovailoa methodically drove Miami down the field with clutch completions to Hill and Waddle. After a defensive holding penalty on Dallas set up 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line, the Dolphins centered the ball and called their final timeout with three seconds left. Sanders then nailed the game-winner down the middle to complete an exhilarating Miami victory.
The win brings Miami to 9-6 and puts them in position to earn an AFC Wild Card spot. Due to tiebreakers, they cannot win the AFC East over the 12-3 Buffalo Bills. But their Week 16 results vaulted them ahead of other contenders for conference Wild Card position.
Meanwhile, the loss drops Dallas to 10-5 and costs them control of the NFC East division lead. The 9-5 Philadelphia Eagles now hold the tiebreaker advantage. The Cowboys likely need to win their final two games and get some help to re-take the division crown and ensure a first-round playoff bye.
|AFC East Standings
|New York Jets
|New England Patriots
|NFC East Standings
|New York Giants
The Dolphins finish the regular season with road games against the Patriots and Jets. Two more wins would likely cement their Wild Card position. Miami last made the playoffs in 2016 and has seen rapid improvement under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel. Making the postseason would mark an important step forward for the organization.
For Dallas, the final two games take on added importance after this loss. They host the Titans in Week 17 before finishing against a tough Commanders team. The Cowboys have Super Bowl aspirations but now may need to win three playoff games on the road to make it there.QB Dak Prescott vowed that Dallas will be “road warriors” in the postseason.
Both teams experienced the full range of emotions on Sunday. In the end, the Dolphins and their fans were celebrating while the Cowboys were left stunned after a last-second defeat. But there is still plenty left to be determined over the final weeks before the playoffs kick off.
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