In what can only be described as the game-of-the-year so far, the Dolphins stagged an incredible comeback not once, not twice, but three times in the final five and a half minutes against the Raiders thanks to their indelible backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
After replacing an ineffective Tua Tagovailoa with about 10 minutes left in the game, Fitzpatrick worked his magic on three consecutive drives, leading the Dolphins to a field goal, touchdown and field goal that ultimately gave the Dolphins a critical 26-25 win in Las Vegas as they seek a playoff spot. No moment of the game encapsulated the unbelievable performance by Fitzpatrick more than his 34-yard heave to Mack Hollins while Fitzpatrick's head was being twisted the other way. The play set up an improbable game-winning field goal.
Despite leading the Dolphins to this incredible comeback win, despite leading their team to as many points in one quarter as Tagovailoa did in three, and despite being the clearly better quarterback both in this game and throughout the season, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has already made the decision to start Tagovailoa over Fitzpatrick next week.
This is the second time Flores has benched Tagovailoa for Fitzpatrick in a game this year (the first time came in Week 11) and it's the second time he's gone back to Tagovailoa afterward. It was a mistake the first time and it's a bigger mistake now that could cost the Dolphins a playoff spot in Week 17 against Fitzpatrick's former team.
Despite having started one fewer game than Tagovailoa on the year, Fitzpatrick has thrown for over 400 more yards and three touchdown passes and has completed a higher percentage of his throws. He's also rushed for more yards and taken fewer sacks.
More importantly when it comes to keeping defenses honest, Fitzpatrick's yards per completion is higher than Tagovailoa. Simply put, Fitzpatrick stretches the opposing defense farther than Tagovailoa, which forces them to play safeties back and gives more room for the Dolphins' running backs to be effective. Or more simply, the offense runs better with Fitzpatrick than Tagovailoa.
Beyond the individual stats, the Dolphins score more points with Fitzpatrick starting (27.0) than Tagovailoa (24.5). While 2.5 points might not seem like a big deal, when you play against the best teams in the playoffs, that's often the difference between a win and a loss.
The 10-5 Dolphins are one win away from clinching their first playoff berth since 2016. Standing in their way in the final week of the season is the 11-3 Bills, who are trying to secure the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The game is in Buffalo, where Fitzpatrick's legend first began from 2009-2012.
Beyond being a proven winner in Buffalo's wintery conditions and having a greater familiarity with the surroundings there, Fitzpatrick offers the Dolphins the best chance to score points and keep up with Buffalo's high-powered offense. Despite all of those statistical and visual facts, Flores is sticking with his rookie, a mistake that could doom the Dolphins' playoff hopes right after one of their most exciting wins ever.