Greenwich Time (Sunday)

Without Tua, Dolphins need to find a win to reach playoffs


With a four-game losing streak, the Dolphins squandered an easy path to the playoffs and now need to win at least one — or possibly both — of their last two games to reach the postseason.

And they will probably have to do it with a backup quarterbac­k.

Tua Tagovailoa is in the concussion protocol again after what was at least his second traumatic brain injury of the season, and Teddy Bridgewate­r is expected to start for Miami (8-7) against the New England Patriots (7-8) on Sunday.

The winner of the game has a decent chance at a playoff berth. If the Patriots lose, they are out; if the Dolphins lose, they are in trouble.

“I'm excited to get an opportunit­y to play some football, some meaningful football,” Bridgewate­r said as he prepared for his first action since Week 6. “Looking forward to this opportunit­y we have to get into the tournament.”

Sunday, 1 p.m. (WFSB-3)

Miami was 8-3 after a fifth straight victory in Week 12 and the only question seemed to be whether it would challenge Buffalo for the AFC East title or have to settle for a wild-card berth. Four losses later, the Dolphins are in danger of missing the postseason entirely.

Their push will likely have to come with Bridgewate­r after Tagovailoa re-entered the concussion protocol. He appeared to hit his head on the ground in the second quarter of the loss to Green Bay, although he never left the game and wasn't immediatel­y evaluated for a concussion.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said the team didn't see anything concerning during the game but saw a problem after reviewing the tape. Tagovailoa met with doctors on Monday and was placed into the NFL's concussion protocol after reporting symptoms.

Running back Raheem Mostert said the team's bad luck is not something it can control.

“The four losses is something that you can definitely control, but it just hasn't gone our way” with the injuries, he said. “It's just the way of the game . ... I know there's a lot of playoff implicatio­ns on what we have to do and everything like that, but we've just got to dial in on what we have to do in order to get a win this week.”

Receiver Tyreek Hill said he's still confident with Bridgewate­r at quarterbac­k because he “can put up numbers with anybody.”

“All of the guys got chemistry with Teddy,” Hill said. “He just brings that veteran presence that we all kind of need.”

The Patriots have lost four of five, but Miami's collapse opened the door for them to reach the playoffs for the second time since Tom Brady's departure signaled the end of their dynasty.

“It definitely starts with ... realizing what type of opportunit­y we have in front of us,” Patriots quarterbac­k Mac Jones said. “You've got to understand what's at risk, what we want to get to and you just have to play your heart out, play for each other and go against a really good team.”


Despite the stress of losing their starting quarterbac­k to a concussion for the second time this season, having the veteran Bridgewate­r as a backup has lifted some stress off the Dolphins.

McDaniel said he was on the phone with Bridgewate­r until 10:15 p.m. Tuesday going over plans.

“This is why we thought it so vital to go after him in free agency,” McDaniel said. “This is why he's done such a diligent job during the course of the season with his own injuries and such to be prepared for this opportunit­y. And I know the team is very excited. I feel very fortunate to have him and for him to get his opportunit­y that he's totally prepared for.”

Bridgewate­r is 41 yards shy of 15,000 career passing yards and has a career passer rating of 90.5.


Patriots quarterbac­k Mac Jones was accused of being a dirty player after he laid down in front of Bengals cornerback Eli Apple on a potential fumble return (which was ultimately ruled an incomplete pass).

Apple called it a dirty play and said he's seen Jones cross the line before. Jones was also fined for flipping a football at a Bills player after being sacked. And against Chicago, he slid with his leg up, kicking a Bears player in the groin.

Jones said he respects players around the league but was concerned about “earning the respect of the people in this building and the people I care about.”

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