FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel isn’t willing to blame injuries for the team’s 23-21 loss Sunday to the New England Patriots, despite four starters being ruled out prior to the game.
It seemed like a microcosm of the Dolphins’ season, during which they’ve endured season-ending injuries to four starters. Miami’s first-year coach declined to call it a challenge to his team’s roster depth, however.
“I don’t really look at it in that way just because I trust the players that we have in the locker room,” McDaniel said. “We’ve won plenty of games with guys rising to the occasion and stepping in for starters that weren’t available. … It feels in the moment like we are having to adjust lineups more frequently than I can remember.
“Whether that’s the case, I know one thing: there’s not anybody in the locker room that is asterisking this loss because they know deep down that we were capable of getting the job done, and we didn’t.”
Bridgewater left the game late in the third quarter when he injured a finger on his right hand while trying to make a tackle after throwing an interception. He was taken to the medical tent for an extended period of time before briefly going to the Dolphins’ locker room. He returned to the sideline late in the fourth quarter but did not return to the game, finishing his day 12-of-19 for 161 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
McDaniel said he is still unsure of the severity of Bridgewater’s injury. Rookie Skylar Thompson filled in for him in the fourth quarter, completing 12 of 21 passes for 104 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
It’s the second time this year Bridgewater was forced out of a start, with Thompson taking over after just one play against the New York Jets in Week 5.
“I feel like it’s kind of deja-vu of the conversation we had at the beginning of the year. It’s never a situation that you want to have happen to get into the game,” Thompson said. “It’s tough to see Tua go down with an injury last week and Teddy experience one this week, because those guys mean a lot to me. But I’ve got to be ready when my number is called. It’s frustrating because I want to win, and I think — I know everybody in this organization and in that locker room wants to win, and it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating whenever you just can’t get over the hump in some situations.
“There’s plays that I left out there that I wish I could have back, but one thing that I will always hang my hat on, every time I step in between the lines, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I’m going to fight my butt off to win. I’m going to keep grinding.”
It’s also unclear whether Tagovailoa will return next weekend after he was diagnosed with a concussion and placed into the league protocol Monday. McDaniel said multiple times throughout last week that the team is focused on Tagovailoa’s long-term health and taking things one day at a time.
The Dolphins have a pivotal season finale coming against the Jets in Week 18, as their current five-game losing streak has officially dropped them out of the playoff picture. They can still clinch their first playoff berth since 2016 with a win over the Jets and a Patriots loss to the Buffalo Bills next weekend.