DeVante Parker has done a lot of things right in the past month.
He caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Los Angeles. He leads the team in receiving yards (280) and receiving touchdowns (two) since Week 10.
And, most impressively, he played against the Ravens a mere seven days after sustaining a painful back injury, and caught the Dolphins’ only touchdown.
Teammates Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry were in his ear all last week, “encouraging him to keep doing everything he could to try to get ready for this game,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said.
Said Parker: “I just wanted to be out there with my team.”
All that deserves praise. But it’s not being unfair to say that the interception that Ryan Tannehill threw to Lardarius Webb on Sunday should have been a touchdown to Parker — even if the receiver disagrees.
A review of the replay — albeit with the luxury of slow motion — shows that Tannehill delivered a perfect pass to Parker in the end zone. Parker had gotten behind Jerraud Powers for a bomb, and Tannehill delivered a strike that hit Parker’s hands.
But Webb, a career corner who moved to safety this year, made an incredible play. He closed quickly from center field and snatched the ball from Parker’s grasp.
Or did he?
Parker, speaking about the play Monday for the first time, had a different take.
“I didn’t really have the ball,” said Parker, who added he doesn’t think he could have done anything differently on that play.
When asked if it was a 50-50 play, Parker responded: “I don’t know. I just didn’t come up with it. … I didn’t even see the safety coming. I was just focused on the ball.”
Now, only a handful of receivers on the planet can consistently make that kind of catch. Calvin Johnson was one of them before he traded cleats for dancing shoes. Atlanta’s Julio Jones is another one.
Heck, even some believe the mentally tough but slight Landry — who gives up four inches to Parker — would have come down with the ball.
And for Parker to become one of those top-tier receivers, those are the catches he’ll need to make. The Dolphins were down 14-0 at the time. Granted, they got crushed Sunday, but an early score would have at least kept them competitive through halftime.
That was basically the point Gase made Sunday, when he said “that’s one that you hope that our guy brings down. … Thought he had it there for a second, and the guy took it away from him.”
Gase didn’t pile on a day later, but rather marveled that his oft-injured second-year receiver was able to play at all. Gase rapped Parker early in the season for not practicing through pain, but has said recently that Parker has made great strides in that regard.
Parker could hardly walk straight early last week, but promised Gase and receivers coach Shawn Jefferson that he would play. Parker delivered.
“I was impressed,” Gase said. “When I saw him on Friday and Saturday moving around, and then when we went out there to work out on Sunday … I was like ‘What do you want to do? He goes, ‘I’m going.’ It was impressive that he went out there. I know he couldn’t have been completely pain free.”
Parker said the back “felt good” Sunday and said he was able to give 100 percent effort. He added Monday that he’s “feeling fine.”
But according to Gase, Parker is “not feeling great, but that’s what this league is right now. You’re in a car crash once a week.”
Still, there doesn’t seem to be any reason the Dolphins won’t have Parker on Sunday against the Cardinals. That’s a very good thing; the Dolphins have almost no margin for error after the Ravens loss, and Arizona is much better than its 5-6-1 record.
The Cardinals lead the league in passing touchdowns surrendered (10), rank third in both pass defense (199 yards per game) and opposing passer rating (76.6), and are fourth in yards per pass attempt (6.5).
So there will be no time for the Dolphins to hang their heads after putting together their worst game of the year.
“It’s very tough,” Parker said of flushing Sunday’s loss and moving on. “You go out there and you play hard and hope you come out with the ‘W.’ Things didn’t end up that way.”
▪ The Dolphins on Tuesday waived offensive tackle Bryce Harris, freeing the roster space needed for defensive lineman Jason Jones, who’s back after serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.