Why didn’t the Miami Dolphins go for the NFL scoring record against Denver Broncos? Coach Mike McDaniel explains decision
There is no way to sugarcoat the massacre that unfolded on Sunday as the Dolphins took apart the Broncos. Yet, the thing is, it could have actually been worse.
By now you’ve probably seen the numerous reports about the Miami Dolphins and the manner in which they humiliated the Denver Broncos in a Week 3 game that ended 70-20. You read that right. Yet, perhaps the most eye-opening aspect of the game is that the Dolphins’ coach chose to stop short of what would been an NFL record. Let’s look at the reason why.
The Dolphins let the Broncos off the hook
One of the most intriguing things about the Dolphins’ Sunday 70-20 demolition of the Broncos - aside from a number of plays like this - was the fact that the home team actually hit the 70-point mark with approximately eight minutes left on the clock. It was just after De’Von Achane had scored on a 67-yard run following a failed drive by the Broncos. With that as context, the Dolphins got the ball back conscious of the idea that if they scored again, they would break the NFL record for the most points scored in a single game. Further to that, the Dolphins also knew that a simple field goal would have taken them to 73 points thereby tying the NFL record for most points in a game - the Bears of 1940 beat the then Redskins 73-0 in the title game of that year.
So, what happened? With a number of backup players on the field, the Dolphins marched without issue into enemy territory courtesy of a 52-yard Chris Brooks run which put them at the Broncos’ 23-yard line with a little more than two minutes to go. What happened next was both surprising and respectable. Rather than go for a field goal, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel instructed his players to take three runs up the middle which took it to fourth down, and then on that final play, he called for a kneel down which brought an end to Miami’s possession. Much like the team’s points haul, you don’t see that every day.
Mike McDaniel explains his choice
Naturally, the postgame press conference while focused on the brutal beating that the Dolphins had just handed out to the Broncos, was also dominated by questions about McDaniel’s choice to not write his team’s name into the NFL history book. What’s interesting to note, is that McDaniel appears to have had no issue with the decision. “I’m very okay with the decision, and I think the team, notably the leaders of the team supported it, the captains supported it,” McDaniel said. “It’s not the way you want to get the record. I would hope that if the shoe was on the other foot, the opponent would feel the same way. That’s called karma. I’m trying to keep good karma with the Miami Dolphins.”
The second-year head coach didn’t stop there either as he gave more insight into the ethos he works with. “It felt like chasing points and chasing a record - that’s not what we came to the game to do,” McDaniel said. “That doesn’t have a bearing on the overall season outcome, and I just didn’t - I saw it as 10 times out of 10, you concede and kneel down in those situations because there was an attainable record that was cool, but the message that I thought it would send wasn’t really in line with how I view things.” This is not to say, that the Dolphins’ tactician didn’t appreciate the significance of what could have been achieved, but again, he appears to place emphasis in different places. “It would have been cool, but what we’re trying to do, I think that would be talking out of both sides of my mouth if we went and tried to send the field goal team on and squeeze an extra three, that’s not really what I’m about,” he said.
Is there any sympathy for the Broncos’ Sean Payton?
It goes without saying that Broncos coach Sean Payton had a somewhat different take on Sunday’s game. Indeed, the Super Bowl winner admitted that he was “at a loss for words.” Yet, it’s got to be said that these are still early days. To that end, one has to consider a few things when it comes to Payton. Firstly, the state of the Dolphins prior to Payton’s arrival i.e., they were coming off a terrible campaign in which Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson had the worst year of his career. Then, there was Payton’s surprisingly harsh critique of former head coach Nathaniel Hackett - now OC with the New York Jets. Payton would eventually apologize but here’s the thing: If you’re going to place the blame for your team’s recent failures on the staff you replaced, you can’t go out and concede a historic loss. Ultimately, it just may be that Payton needs to follow McDaniel’s example and simply ‘keep good Karma.”