The Dolphins’ season ended with a crunch.
With 5:16 remaining in Sunday’s game, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots faced a third-and-14 from their own 16. Soon after the snap, defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh converged on Brady to ensure the drive would end.
Brady wouldn’t take the field again. A late Miami field goal pushed the Dolphins’ lead to 20-10 and prompted Patriots coach Bill Belichick to send out Jimmy Garoppolo.
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The sack was only the Dolphins’ second of the day — the first came just two plays earlier courtesy of Derrick Shelby — but Brady had little time to throw all afternoon. Instead of wrapping up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, Brady spent most of the day on his back.
“It’s always fun to hit Brady,” Vernon said. “It’s always fun to hit a quarterback. It knocks them off their game.”
Not all of Vernon’s three quarterback hits were as clean.
On third-and-11 midway through the third quarter, a blatant roughing-the-passer foul on Vernon kept a Patriots drive alive.
Brady had already completed his throwing motion by the time Vernon buried his shoulder pad into Brady’s back. Vernon declined to answer when asked after the game whether he thought he would hear from the league about the hit.
Vernon is no stranger to questionable hits. He was fined $37,363 in October for two hits — one low, one high — on the Titans’ Marcus Mariota.
Defensive end Cameron Wake said he’s trending in the right direction as he continues the long rehabilitation process for a torn Achilles’ tendon.
“As well as can be expected,” Wake said. “[I’m] working hard every day. Just taking every precaution, making sure I do everything right.”
Wake, who sustained the injury in an Oct. 29 loss at New England, said he hopes to be ready in time for next season.
As for where he’ll play next season, Wake said the question marks around the organization made it “hard to speculate,” but that he’d like to be back.
BACK NEXT YEAR?
As the 2015 season ended, some players were already beginning to look ahead to potential offseason moves.
Running back Lamar Miller said he would likely talk to his agent on Monday to figure out the next steps. Although Miller said he hadn’t thought about specifics, such as a possible franchise tag, he said he hopes to stay in Miami.
“Yeah, of course,” Miller said. “I’m from Miami. Just to continue to play my NFL career here, it’d be a great opportunity for me.”
Tight end Jordan Cameron, scored a touchdown Sunday but said he hasn’t thought about next season. “I’m under contract,” Cameron said. “We’ll see what happens.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ QB Ryan Tannehill’s 4,208 passing yards is good for fourth on the Dolphins’ all-time single-season passing list.
▪ Injury update: WR Kenny Stills exited with a hamstring injury; C Jamil Douglas left with an ankle injury