Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took the league to task for how game officials handled a mandatory concussion check that kept him out of the most important series of Sunday’s win over the Colts.
With the Dolphins up a point late in the fourth quarter, Nik Needham’s interception gave Miami the ball deep in Indianapolis territory.
Fitzpatrick ran onto the field, determined to add to his team’s slim lead. But he didn’t make it far before the refs stopped him and sent him to the medical tent for a mandatory cognitive exam.
At issue: How Fitzpatrick responded to a unflagged helmet-to-helmet hit by Colts defender Grover Stewart in the Dolphins’ previous possession.
“As a guy who’s played this game a long time, I understand why they have the spotters and why they call down,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s for us, to protect us. For me, it was frustrating because I was on the bench for five minutes. We were off the field. I sat on the bench for five minutes, going over plays. It wasn’t until I went back into the game that it was called down to check on me.
“If they want to check on me, I get it 100 percent and I know what it’s in place,” he continued. “It was a five-minute gap there where I was sitting there doing nothing and they didn’t need me out on the field where I could have been checked. And then also I sat in the blue tent for what seemed like 10 minutes — it was probably one minute — without anybody checking me in a very key moment of the game. That was difficult. ... The timing of it was off, and it was difficult for me to understand.”
With Fitzpatrick out, Josh Rosen had to go in. The Dolphins played it exceedingly safe with Rosen, calling three straight runs and settling for a Jason Sanders field goal that stretched the lead to four points.
Rosen’s mindset in that moment?
“Play quarterback,” he said. “That’s what I do. Don’t mess it up. Whatever they called, I was ready.”
With Kenyan Drake in Arizona and Mark Walton suspended, Kalen Ballage knew he was in line for a heavy workload Sunday.
But it was a bit surprising just how heavy. Ballage, who fell out of favor after struggling early in the season, carried the ball a career-high 20 times for 43 yards Sunday.
“I think it was an OK day,” Ballage said. “They definitely did some things defensively, trying to disrupt the run plays and the run game. Credit to them. I think overall, it was a good day. We were physical. At the end of the day, that showed and that’s why we came out with the win.”
Odds and ends
▪ The Dolphins were aggressive early, going for it twice on fourth down in the first half.
They converted their first attempt when Fitzpatrick found Jakeem Grant across the middle, but failed on their second try, which took points off the board. Fitzpatrick’s fourth-and-goal pass to Gaskin appeared to be tipped at the line, allowing the Colts to rally to the ball and drop Gaskin short of the goal line.
That made Flores’ decision to punt on fourth-and-7 from the Indianapolis 38 all the more puzzling.
▪ Dolphins owner Stephen Ross joined general manager Chris Grier at the LSU-Alabama game Saturday to get a first-hand look at likely top-10 picks Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow.
▪ J’Marcus Webb has been mostly good since taking over as the Dolphins’ left tackle, but he had his hands full with Justin Houston Sunday. Houston beat Webb and immediately swallowed up Fitzpatrick for a sack early in the third quarter.
▪ Tight end Mike Gesicki lost a fumble after a catch on the first drive of the game.