Yes it’s a new season, but this isn’t new. This last-second victory that rewards the team that didn’t wilt or fold or suffer a bad case of nerves is becoming commonplace for the Miami Dolphins because, since last season, they’re usually that team.
It used to be the Dolphins lost games by doing stupid things. Fans started referring to those dumbfounding moments or losses as being so Dolphin.
Well, this new chapter for this franchise gets you a victory because Miami kicker Cody Parkey connects on a 54-yard field goal that’s his career long kick while the other team’s kicker misses two tries, including the potential game-winner with nine seconds left from a makeable 44 yards out.
That is what is now so Dolphin.
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“We just like to make it interesting for the people out there,” Dolphins guard Jermon Bushrod said jokingly. “No, not really. It’s very stressful on us. It is what it is. We’ll take a win. These Ws are hard fought. But we definitely make it interesting.
“There’s two ways you can go with adversity: You can sulk about it or you can fight and claw your way out of it. And that’s what we try to do.”
And we’ve seen it before. Against these same Chargers, the Dolphins last year won a game in the final minute on a Kiko Alonso interception return touchdown. In this very town -- well, a few miles down the highway -- the Dolphins last year beat the Rams with a touchdown pass that came with 36 seconds to play.
They did this kind of stuff last year in games against Buffalo twice and San Francisco, and Arizona.
And they’re at it again this year.
“Yeah, gutsy guys, man,” coach Adam Gase said. “The core group that we’ve got here are the same guys from last year. When it gets tight in the fourth quarter, they think they’re going to win. They don’t have any doubt. The sideline, the energy down there is awesome. You can feel it and those guys believe good things will happen for us.”
Good things happened for the Dolphins late Sunday afternoon. But for this to be a dramatic moment in Hollywood’s shadow there had to be some preliminary muck heaped on the Dolphins to make things, well, interesting. There had to be some discomfort and hardship.
There had to be adversity.
And, of course, fleeing a killer hurricane qualifies. Spending the past 10 days away from home on an unplanned trip qualifies. Players knowing that no matter what happened, they were going to board a flight back to a home that might or might not have power, that might or might not be damaged? That qualifies.
And then there was that embarrassing issue with linebacker Lawrence Timmons leaving the team Saturday.
Timmons, apparently dealing with a personal situation that made him so unhappy he headed to the airport on his own to go home, put the good of the team at risk on Sunday. At a time when the Dolphins are talking about being unified and a family and a brotherhood, Timmons simply became a solo act.
And so his Dolphins career is at risk now.
“I’m still kind of, I’ll be ready to talk about that, probably tomorrow,” Gase said. “I’m not saying anything right now. I need to figure some things out first before I talk about this.”
Part of figuring out if Timmons is going to salvage his career with the team or not involves Gase speaking with Timmons. That had not happened as of Sunday evening when this game ended.
So Timmons needs to have a compelling and logical explanation for Gase to make going AWOL an excusable offense. That’s a tough ask.
But if Timmons doesn’t convince Gase what he did somehow made sense, he might not be around this team for next week’s game or future games, or perhaps ever again.
That’s how serious this is.
It’s possible this is more serious for the Dolphins than it might be for other teams because this team, for whatever amount of talent they have relative to their opponents, believe they win because of their heart and unity and camaraderie.
Don’t believe it?
The evening before every game the Dolphins always have someone talk to the team. On Saturday it was defensive end Cameron Wake giving the talk. And Wake talked about using the people of Florida as a template for how his teammates should think.
He was back in Florida when Hurricane Irma hit and saw survivors in the aftermath speak of family and hope and the importance of having each other. And Wake said the Dolphins should share that approach.
“Cam talked about it with the guys because he was back there,” Gase said. “And hearing some of the things he saw and some of the interviews he saw about our area, just the positive attitude that people in that area have, happy to be safe and have their families with them, not being worried so much about material things ...
“I think that was a great thing for him to talk about last night, that there’s more than the material type things. It’s about your family, it’s about us sticking together and going out and playing hard and trying to win for each other and South Florida fans.”
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero