Bears get whiplash chasing Wilson
MIAMI GARDENS — It seems impossible that on a field full of worldclass athletes one of them is able to almost literally run circles around the rest.
That’s the weapon the Dolphins have in Albert Wilson, by far Adam Gase’s smartest free agency decision as head coach, the most explosive player on their roster and the reason they got the chance to pull out Sunday’s 31-28 overtime adventure against Chicago at Hard Rock Stadium.
Fast Albert smirked when the Bears thought they wrapped it up on a touchdown with 3:17 remaining. With his team down seven, he leaned over to someone on the sideline and said, “They gave me too much time.”
It turns out a few seconds
is too much time to leave this guy.
The very next play, he caught a ball over the middle that traveled 4 yards past the line of scrimmage to reach him, and turned to face three Bears defenders closing in on him. He cut to the right sideline and went right at safety Adrian Amos Jr., then juked him so hard that he fell flat on the turf as his hands grazed Wilson’s cleats.
Then another Bear — no need to keep naming these anonymous would-be tacklers — had a chance and Wilson slipped him with ease before cutting back to the open grass in the middle of the field for a 75-yard touchdown.
How much space does he need to make those kinds of game-changing plays?
“Not much,” he said as though he’s surprised when he doesn’t do things like that. “I just need to get my shoulders pointed up field. Once that happens, I pretty much have success.”
The goal of Miami’s offense is to offer the quarterback, whoever it might be, with low-risk, high-reward passes, and Wilson is the epitome of it. Gase wanted an array of skill players so dangerous that anybody could operate it effectively, and Sunday anybody did.
Brock Osweiler, a punchline around the NFL the last three years, stepped in for injured starter Ryan Tannehill and put up a career-high 380 yards to go with 28-for-44 accuracy, three touchdowns and a 94.9 passer rating. Wilson gave him 118 yards and two touchdowns on two throws: the aforementioned pass over the middle and a screen pass that he caught behind the line of scrimmage and turned into a 43-yard score.
He finished with six receptions, 155 yards and two scores.
“Fantastic,” Osweiler said of watching Wilson run wild. “I absolutely love it.”
Without Wilson’s two big plays, this game never makes it to overtime and Hard Rock Stadium misses out on the wild celebration of Jason Sanders’ game-winning 47-yard field goal.
Both of Wilson’s touchdowns came in the fourth quarter.
The first allowed Miami to tie it at 21 on a two-point conversion from Osweiler to Kenny Stills with nine minutes left as the Dolphins rallied from a 21-10 deficit late in the third quarter.
On the two touchdowns combined, Wilson slipped at least nine defenders by either shaking them or straight-up outrunning them.
“It’s great seeing him do that,” said fellow receiver Jakeem Grant, who knows quite a bit about those kinds of moves. “I knew from the jump he could do things like that. ... I’m not the only guy that can do that now. Proud of him.
“My man doesn’t need a go-ball. He doesn’t need any deep balls. He can take a
5-yard route and go the distance. That’s him.”
That’s what Gase saw in Wilson as he made his climb in Kansas City the last four years, but he doesn’t get all the credit for him coming to the Dolphins. As much as Miami targeted Wilson with its threeyear, $24 million offer, Wilson chose this team over Chicago, Baltimore, Buffalo and possibly others because he saw high potential in a partnership with Gase.
Other teams talked about him being the starting slot receiver. Gase thought playing him in the slot was a waste of his speed. He also saw a variety of uses for him, even running and throwing the ball, and that sounded good enough to Wilson that he picked the Dolphins even knowing that they planned to sign receiver Danny Amendola the next day.
The match has been a good one. This is twice now that Wilson flipped a game for Miami — he threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Grant and took a shovel pass from Tannehill 74 yards for a score to rally past the Raiders in Week 3. He has been the team’s most productive receiver with 23 catches, 359 yards and four touchdowns.
“We’re always trying to find ways to get the ball in his hands and Jakeem’s, whether it’s short or intermediate because those guys are unbelievable when it comes to getting into the open field,” Gase said. “If they have a little bit of room, they’re so fast that they just split the defenders and they’re gone.”
‘My man doesn’t need a go-ball. He doesn’t need any deep balls. He can take a 5-yard route and go the distance. That’s him.’ Jakeem Grant On his fellow Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson
Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson turned two short passes into long TDs Sunday against the Bears.