FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)Skylar Thompson didn’t have much time to react after another Miami Dolphins quarterback exited with an injury.
”I got like two throws,” the rookie said. ”It was quick, but it’s part of the job.”
Thompson, the backup to the backup QB, found himself out there as the Dolphins dropped their fifth straight game, 23-21 to New England on Sunday. The injuries keep piling and so too are the losses for Miami, which faces a win-or-go-home playoff scenario heading into next week’s regular-season finale against divisional rival New York.
”I expect a hungry and well-intentioned team ready to go play the Jets,” Miami coach Mike McDaniel said. ”It’s a one-game season to really take all the lessons learned from this five-game losing streak and put together something that the locker room and coaching staff is proud of as the regular season comes to a close.”
Thompson was pressed into duty after Teddy Bridgewater injured finger on his right hand on a play during which the momentum swung from one sideline to the other. Starting in place of starter Tua Tagovailoa, who’s in concussion protocol, Bridgewater and the Dolphins surrendered a 14-10 lead in the third quarter as an interception by Kyle Dugger proved costly with the Patriots safety returning it 39 yards for the go-ahead score.
Bridgewater’s injury came with 2:51 left in the third. McDaniel was unsure of the severity of Bridgewater’s injury but believed it occurred on Dugger’s pick-6 that put New England ahead for good. Bridgewater was never officially ruled out with an injury as Miami chose to stick with Thompson the rest of the game.
”I wanted Teddy to go out there and do his thing today and come out with a win,” said Thompson, a seventh-rounder out of Kansas State who has started once for Miami this season – a 24-16 loss to Minnesota on Oct. 16.
Between Bridgewater and Thompson, Miami’s quarterbacks were unable to muster much offensively against a New England defense that was missing three key members of the team’s secondary. Like Bridgewater, Thompson was also intercepted, though wide receiver Tyreek Hill deserved some of the blame after the ball bounced off his hands before being corralled by Jonathan Jones three plays into the fourth quarter.
”Just missed the throw,” said Thompson when asked about the INT that kept the Dolphins in catchup mode. ”I’m going to own it, and I’m going to come back to work and be ready to go. Just got to have a short-term memory playing this position, and that’s something that I’ve got to do.”
Bridgewater and Thompson did throw one touchdown apiece, the latter’s coming with 1:04 remaining and giving Miami one more chance at ending a month’s worth of losing games after Miami was seemingly in control of its own destiny heading into December at 8-3.
But New England recovered the onside kick to extinguish any hope of wrapping up a playoff spot before Week 18.
The Dolphins came into the day occupying the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC. They came to Gillette Stadium not only minus Tagovailoa but didn’t have the services of No. 1 cornerback Xavien Howard, starting left tackle Terron Armstead, and edge rusher Bradley Chubb. All three worked out pregame.
”Those guys obviously would help any team, but their inactivation was not the reason we lost this game,” McDaniel said.
Thompson lauded Miami’s preparation, noting this past week marked ”one of our best weeks of practices that we’ve had. … Guys bringing energy and staying positive and doing those things.”
Alas, the Dolphins have nothing to show for their efforts except another frustrating setback that places the team’s playoff hopes squarely on the proverbial bubble.
”There’s a certain degree of problem-solving that I enjoy about this profession and this job in particular, and I also know that it does give me confidence in a weird way because I’m motivated by trying to dig people out of tough spots,” McDaniel said. ”You’re not excited about putting yourself in a position to, `OK, what’s it going to feel like to lose five straight?’
”But being involved in it – I know that this is kind of my niche in the world for me – to help get a group of guys out of this is totally my speed and something very important to me, and I’m definitely up for the challenge.”
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