Fins coach: Down confusion led to delay gaffe

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel offered an explanation for a critical delay of game penalty his team incurred on its final offensive possession in a 34-31 playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Facing fourth-and-1 from their own 48-yard line with 2:28 remaining in the game, the Dolphins failed to get a play off in time and were flagged for delay of game. The penalty pushed them back to fourth-and-6, and they were unable to convert on a Skylar Thompson pass attempt to tight end Mike Gesicki.

McDaniel said afterward it was communicated to him that the Dolphins had picked up a first down on the prior play, and he didn’t immediately have a fourth-down call ready.

“There was some communication that we’d gotten first down,” he said. “So then we were deploying a group of players for the first-and-10 call. Then it was articulated that, no, it was fourth down … I had gotten convicted information that it was a first down; I don’t really know exactly who it was from. It’s probably the first time all year that that had happened. You try to do your best. As it was, I thought we had a fourth-and-6 opportunity we were unable to come up with.

“You just have to adjust to any variables out there, and I thought we had a chance at fourth-and-6, as well.”

The Dolphins entered Sunday’s contest 14-point underdogs but held a one-score lead midway through the third quarter. The Bills answered with 14 straight points for a 10-point advantage with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Miami cut its deficit to three points after a Jeff Wilson Jr. touchdown run with 11 minutes left in the game and got the ball back with four minutes remaining with an opportunity to tie it or take the lead.

Thompson completed a 14-yard pass to Jaylen Waddle on second-and-15 to bring up third-and-1, but Salvon Ahmed‘s rushing attempt did not result in a first down. McDaniel said he believes someone on his headset communicated to him that Ahmed had converted, however, and the coach said he called a play to reflect that before realizing the actual down and distance.

The Dolphins did not have any timeouts remaining and could not 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 marked the third longest in franchise history.

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