The Dolphins set a franchise record Sunday by winning a game decided by seven points or fewer for the ninth straight time, providing more evidence that last year’s run of close victories was no fluke.
Numbers crunchers say that over a long enough time line, those results even out. That teams lose as many one-score games as they win.
But the Dolphins don’t believe that. Clyde Christensen said in the spring that the Dolphins’ formula for success is sustainable, and until they lose a few of those tight ones, it’s hard to argue with him.
Under Joe Philbin, the Dolphins seemingly always found a way lose close games. Under Adam Gase, there’s a belief they will win them.
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“Since Adam has gotten here, I’ve never been part of a team that really feels like they’re going to win every week,” said special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, who has been on the Dolphins’ staff since 2009. “There’s no doubt about the belief on the sideline.”
That was the case Sunday, even though the Dolphins scored just three first-half points, even though they went 0 for 3 in the red zone, and even though Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo had a 44-yard field goal attempt to beat them with 10 seconds left.
Koo missed the kick, and the Dolphins’ belief was justified.
“I think the variety of different ways that we’ve won says a lot about our team,” Rizzi said. “It’s not a two-minute drill with a quarterback leading the team down the field every time, we score and kick a short field goal; we haven’t won that way every time. We’ve had a defensive touchdown, special teams plays, offensive plays, so the variety of the ways that we’ve won I think says a lot about our team, the culture, and the belief, and I think all of that kind of parlays together.”
Byron Maxwell never played for Philbin. But he’s been on some bad teams, both in college and the pros. He suggested that the 2015 Eagles team, which went 7-9 in Chip Kelly’s last season, wasn’t quite so mentally strong.
“We just believe, when it's all said and done, that we're going to be on top.”
Ten of the last 12 times the Dolphins have played a game in the regular season, that’s exactly where they ended up.