The Miami Dolphins got the win and the help they needed to reach the playoffs, but now face the prospect of playing the Buffalo Bills without their top quarterback.
The Dolphins were down to their third-string quarterback in Sunday’s Week 18 game against the New York Jets, but rookie Skylar Thompson did just enough in an 11-6 victory. After the win, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel dropped a major hint about whether Tua Tagovailoa could be ready to play.
Tua Tagovailoa Remains Out With Concussion
Tagovailoa has been out since being placed in concussion protocol on December 26, missing the team’s final two games. Backup Teddy Bridgewater was also knocked out after dislocating the pinkie finger on his throwing hand, leaving Thompson to face the Jets in a win-or-go-home game.
After the game, McDaniel would not say whether Tagovailoa could be ready for next week’s Wild Card game in Orchard Park.
“We’ll continue to take it day by day, and I will not even think about any sort of game, whether that’s this year or next year, until he’s fully ready to do so. And that comes with medical clearance,” McDaniel said.
While the answer didn’t reveal much, some insiders believe McDaniel was hinting that Tagovailoa won’t be ready in time.
“After looking through updates + McDaniel’s comments on Tua from the last few days, my complete guess right now would be he doesn’t play vs the Bills,” tweeted Bills reporter Joe DiBiase.
Skylar Thompson: ‘Ready for This’
Thompson did enough to win in a defensive struggle on Sunday, completing 21 of 31 passes for 152 yards. Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders connected on a 50-yard kick with 18 seconds left to break a 6-6 tie, and the Jets lost the ball through the endzone for a safety on a final desperation play.
After the game, Thompson said he felt ready for the big stage.
“Hasn’t always been perfect, but I believe everything that I went through set me up and prepared me for this moment,” Thompson said, via Alanis Thames of The Associated Press. “I had so much confidence coming into this game because looking back at this year, it was like, ‘What have I not experienced?’ I’m ready for this.”
It likely won’t be clear until later in the week if Thompson gets the start in Orchard Park against a motivated Bills team. After safety Damar Hamlin collapsed in their Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team spent a harrowing few days waiting for updates and later feeling the elation of what the team called a “remarkable” recovery.
The Bills channeled their emotion into a 35-23 win over the New England Patriots, a win the Dolphins needed in order to break their six-year playoff drought. After the game, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White said he wasn’t sure how his team was able top lay through the emotion.
“Honestly, I don’t know how some of us did it,” White said, via ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg. “Just because some of us had a different view of what went on [with Damar Hamlin] and that is traumatizing.
“I’ve seen traumatic things in my life just growing up where I grew up at and just in the environment that I’ve been raised in, but it was always the end result of me walking up and seeing it. But there was never a time where I saw every event, everything transpire to the end. So, it’s tough, man.”