DOL­PHINS

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS -

from No. 3 to No. 5 in the 2020 NFL draft or­der af­ter the New York Gi­ants beat the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins in over­time and the Detroit Lions lost in Den­ver, while Cincin­nati se­cured the No. 1 pick.

As it stands, the Ben­gals (1-14), Red­skins (3-12), Gi­ants (4-11), Lions (3-11-1) and Dol­phins (4-11) make up the top five. The Gi­ants have a weaker strength of sched­ule than the Dol­phins, the first tiebreaker in such sce­nar­ios, de­spite beat­ing Mi­ami last week.

A loss would have moved Mi­ami to No. 2 and put it in the hunt for a player like LSU quar­ter­back Joe Bur­row or Ohio State stand­out de­fen­sive end Chase Young.

In­stead, the Dol­phins pulled off their third home win this sea­son and fourth over­all un­der Flores, who is in charge with gen­eral man­ager Chris Grier for ex­e­cut­ing this fran­chise re­boot.

Fitz­patrick threw four touch­downs, in­clud­ing one to DeVante

Parker and two to tight end Mike Gesicki to help Mi­ami take a com­mand­ing lead early. Rookie run­ning back Myles Gaskin scored on a short run to give Mi­ami a 35-12 lead in the fourth quar­ter.

That was un­til Mi­ami’s de­fense, which has wel­comed a num­ber of new play­ers into the fold in the fi­nal month of the sea­son, fal­tered and nearly cost the Dol­phins the vic­tory.

Ben­gals quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton threw a 3-yard touch­down to re­ceiver Tyler Boyd with 29 sec­onds left, and the Ben­gals re­cov­ered the en­su­ing on­side kick. A 29-yard pass to Boyd and a 25-yard touch­down pass to tight end Tyler Eifert on a Hail Mary-type play with no time re­main­ing made it, 35-33.

Dal­ton then rolled out and ran for the 2-point con­ver­sion to the right side of the end zone him­self to tie the game and force over­time.

“I’m think­ing, ‘No way. No. No way. Well, they’ve got to get the 2-point con­ver­sion. Well, they’ve got to get an on­side kick. Well, they’ve got to score again. Well, they’ve got to get the 2-point con­ver­sion [again].’ And it all hap­pened,” Fitz­patrick said af­ter the game.

Fitz­patrick and the Dol­phins of­fense, who were on the bench for most of the fourth quar­ter, won the game fol­low­ing a 10-play drive on their sec­ond pos­ses­sion in over­time.

He con­nected on passes to Ford twice and Gesicki, be­fore kneel­ing the foot­ball down on a left hash mark and drain­ing the clock be­fore San­ders’ kick.

“Peo­ple are go­ing to talk about how the Dol­phins al­most let one slip, but hey, how about the Dol­phins fought through a lot of ad­ver­sity and got a win,” Gesicki said. “That’s huge.”

The Dol­phins im­proved to 4-11 be­fore their sea­son fi­nale on the road next week against the New Eng­land Patriots (12-3), the AFC East cham­pi­ons who will be vy­ing for a first-round bye in the play­offs.

A lower Dol­phins pick may not be as detri­men­tal as one could imag­ine for a team who tore their ros­ter down with the hope to be near the top of the draft next April.

While Mi­ami could miss out on play­ers like Bur­row and Young, both con­sid­ered the two best prospects in the up­com­ing draft, the Dol­phins could end up with in­jured Alabama quar­ter­back Tua Tago­v­ailoa with­out hav­ing to trade up for him as he re­cov­ers from a hip in­jury that has raised con­cerns about his play­ing fu­ture.

The Dol­phins also have two more first-round picks in the draft, and 14 over­all, that could fur­ther in­fuse the re­build.

Fitz­patrick threw for 252 yards in the first half — the most in a game since Dan Marino did so in 1991 — and fin­ished with 419 yards and four touch­downs to fuel the of­fense. Fitz­patrick could likely con­tinue serv­ing as Mi­ami’s bridge quar­ter­back next sea­son while backup Josh Rosen or an­other player learns the of­fense.

Parker eclipsed 1,000 re­ceiv­ing yards for the first time since the Dol­phins drafted him in 2015. Once con­sid­ered a draft bust, Parker has turned in the best sea­son of his ca­reer that was re­warded with a con­tract ex­ten­sion to con­tinue play­ing a role in Mi­ami’s re­build. He fin­ished with five catches and 111 yards.

Gesicki, Mi­ami’s sec­ond-round pick in 2018, caught two touch­downs against the Ben­gals, giv­ing him four this sea­son. He had none as a rookie last year and could be an­other piece Mi­ami can build on.

De­fen­sive tackle Chris­tian Wilkins, Mi­ami’s first-round pick last April, caught a touch­down pass from Fitz­patrick on the first drive of the game. He did that three times as a na­tional cham­pion stand­out in col­lege at Clem­son. Wilkins also had the sec­ond sack of his ca­reer against Cincin­nati.

The Dol­phins may have some pieces al­ready in place to aid their re­build­ing ef­fort, and it be­gins with Flores at the helm.

“At the end of the day, we had an op­por­tu­nity to go into over­time, put a cou­ple of drives to­gether and win it at the end.” Flores said. “That’s what it took to pull this one out, and it’s a happy locker room, and we’re ex­cited.”

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