By Steven "Goldie" Goldstein

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Dolphins playoff hopes and 2 month-long winning streak were on the line in New Orleans, against a Saints team gutted by COVID.

The Dolphins were able to take advantage of a rookie quarterback in a 20-3 win.

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The offense did enough in the 2nd half to help another dominating effort by the defense. They smothered the Saints offense producing sacks, turnovers and a touchdown.

Miami has won 7 in a row for the first time since 1985 and the Dolphins are now 8 good quarters away from the playoffs.

Streaking
For the first time in NFL history a team has lost 7 games in a row and won 7 in a row in the same season. Brian Flores is now 19-7 in the 2nd half of his 3 seasons as coach. The remarkable turnaround has the Dolphins at 8-7 and 2 wins away, against Tennessee and New England, from the playoffs. Unbelievable.

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Close the Book
Rookie Ian Book made his first NFL start in this game and the Dolphins were more than ready. On the first 3rd down play defensive coordinator Josh Boyer had 7 players at the line. Andrew Van Ginkel tipped the pass, Nik Needham made the easy interception and strolled into the endzone for a pick 6 and the game’s first score. To start the game the defense looked like it’s ball hawking 2020 version. They stayed hungry and agressive all night long continuing its playoff caliber play.

Tua handle Pressure
The quarterback had a nearly perfect 1st quarter but on an early 3rd down facing a blitz he missed a pass he needs to complete. On the plus side, it was 1 of only 3 incompletioms in the entire half. Tua’s 2nd tough play came on another 3rd down as he was sacked hard and fumbled deep in Saints territory. Luckily, the Dolphins recovered that ball and Jason Sanders made the long field goal to make it a 10-0 game. He then made a poor decision and throw on a 3rd quarter interception, keeping the Saints in the game. But Tua came back with a big 3rd down bomb to Mack Hollins for 40 yards starting the touchdown drive that made it 17-3.

Line Assistance
Tua and the offense needs more help from his offensive line as he’s faced too many free rushers too often. The line committed too many penalties and allowed too many sacks against the Saints and showed it doesn’t have what it takes to win big. An offseason project to be sure.

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Waddle Superstar
Waddle was the best player on the field for either team all night as he closes in on 100 catches for the season. Not only is the rookie wide receiver rewriting team and league record books, Waddle is doing it while defenses know he is Tua’s target most plays. He is the best Dolphins rookie WR in franchise history and it would be interesting to contemplate where his rookie season ranks at any position. A great move by GM Chris Grier on draft day to grab what turns out to be one of the best players in the NFL.

Steven "Goldie" Goldstein