ORCHARD PARK, NY — Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel offered an explanation for a critical lapse his team suffered on its final offensive possession in Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Facing fourth-and-1 from their own 48-yard line with 2:28 left in the game, the Dolphins couldn’t make the playoff in time and were called for a delay of game. A penalty set them back on 4th and 6, and they couldn’t convert on Skylar Thompson’s pass attempt to Mike Gesicki for a touchdown.
McDaniel said he was then told the Dolphins had taken the first play from the previous game and he wasn’t immediately ready for the fourth.
“There was some communication that we had down first,” he said. “So back then we were deploying a group of players for the first-and-10 call. Then it said no, it was the fourth… I had conflicting reports that it was the first fall, I don’t really know. you know exactly who it was from. It was probably the first time all year. You try to do your best. As it happened, I thought we had a fourth-and-6 opportunity that we couldn’t find.
“You just have to adjust to whatever variables are out there, and I thought we had a chance on fourth-and-6 as well.”
The Dolphins entered Sunday as 14-point underdogs, but took a one-point lead midway through the third quarter. The Bills responded with 14 straight points to take a 10-point lead with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Miami cut the deficit to three points after Jeff Wilson Jr. fouled out with 11 minutes left in the game and got the ball back with four minutes left to tie it or take the lead.
Thompson completed a 14-yard pass to Jalen Waddle on 2nd-and-15 to set up a third-and-1, but Salvon Ahmed’s rushing attempt failed to result in a first down. McDaniel said he thought someone told him through his headset that Ahmed had converted, but the coach said he called a play to reflect that before realizing the true drop and distance.
The Dolphins ran out of time and couldn’t stop the clock after the Bills took over on downs.
Sunday’s contest was the Dolphins’ first playoff appearance since the 2016 season. The five-year playoff drought was the third-longest in franchise history.