Fitzpatrick makes the throw of his life, lifts Dolphins past Raiders in miracle win

The Dolphins are alive.

And it’s FitzMagical.

The game was dead. And their season probably was, too.

But never count out Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Down two points and basically out of time, Fitzpatrick — in for a benched Tua Tagovailoa — threw a 34-yard pass to Mack Hollins which, along with a 15-yard facemask penalty, set the Dolphins up for a 44-yard field goal by Jason Sanders.

That sentence does not adequately explain how insane the play was.

The facemask penalty was committed by Arden Key on Fitzpatrick.

And it wasn’t so much a facemask as it was an attempted decapitation. And yet, Fitzpatrick put the ball on the money to Hollins, who was wide open due to a busted coverage.

Oh yeah, the final: Dolphins 26, Raiders 25 — the first time an NFL game finished with that exact score.

Some quick, important news before we dig deeper:

Tagovailoa, despite getting benched for the second time in his last five starts, will be under center next Sunday in Buffalo, Dolphins coach Brian Flores said.

“I have a lot of confidence in Tua,” Flores said. “... We felt like we needed a spark the way the game was going. We have a lot of confidence in Tua. He’s developing, he’s improving on a daily basis. He’ll be better next week.”

Tagovailoa’s take?

“Sometimes you’ve got to take the [downfield] shots,” he said. “You’ve got to give guys an opportunity, get the ball down the field if time’s running out and we don’t have all day. .... I’ve got to get better at it.”

OK, back to the play of Fitzpatrick’s career.

That’s not our assessment. It’s his.

Since Fitzpatrick’s head, in Hollins’ words, “was facing the opposite end zone,” the 16th year quarterback didn’t even know the pass was completed.

Because it was, with one more win, next Sunday in Buffalo, the Dolphins — who have won 10 games for just the third time since 2004 — are going to the playoffs.

Fitzpatrick desperately wants to get there, even if he doesn’t play a snap.

“I want to go; I want to feel what it’s like,” he said. “We’ve got a special team. This team, all year long, has fought. It’s not just this year. It’s the last two years. ... I’m proud of the fact that I was able to contribute to that.”

Fitzpatrick finished 9 of 13 for 182 yards and a touchdown on the Dolphins’ final three drives, during which the Dolphins’ offense looked far more effective than it did with Tagovailoa under center.

Tua went 17 of 22 for just 94 yards.

The game’s craziness started with Tagovailoa’s benching.

It continued when Raiders receiver Nelson Agholor got away with a push-off and caught an 85-yard touchdown pass over safety Byron Jones.

And it got completely nuts when Fitzpatrick hit Myles Gaskin on a short route and he raced 59 yards to the end zone.

But it was a phantom pass interference call on Jones that set up a Raiders field goal, putting them ahead with 19 seconds left.

Turns out, it was 18 seconds too many.

The game was only in doubt because of a series of fantastic plays by the Dolphins’ defense. Zach Sieler had a massive fourth-down stop. Jerome Baker sacked Derek Carr on third down with Las Vegas on the edge of field-goal range. And Nik Needham dropped Hunter Renfrow at the 2 on third-and-goal

But the offense was anemic, so Flores made the switch. And the Dolphins probably should have had the late lead, but Hollins dropped a potential touchdown pass. Flores settled for a field goal, and the game was tied with four minutes left.

If the first half felt familiar, it should have.

The Dolphins’ pass offense was catatonic and, as a result, they were held out of the end zone before the break for the second straight half.

Tagovailoa’s stats were unbelievable — in a bad way.

He went 10 of 13 for a mere 45 yards. His longest completion? Thirteen yards.

But the Dolphins didn’t turn the ball over, the Raiders played uber-conservative and Jason Sanders made two field goals to keep it a one-score game, Miami trailing 13-6, at the break.

And the Dolphins tied the score on their first possession of the second half, a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown screen pass from Tagovailoa to Gaskin, who had 169 all-purpose yards and two scores.

The Raiders went back ahead on a 20-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson, taking a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.

But all that was simply a warmup for Saturday’s utterly improbable grand finale.

“There’s a lot of people in that locker room who are trying to win,” Flores said. “That’s at the forefront of the decisions I’m going to make. That’s how I see the situation. ... We’re always going to do what’s best for the team.”

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source https://sports.yahoo.com/fitzpatrick-makes-throw-life-lifts-042626256.html?src=rss

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