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Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel: ‘Miscommunication’ led to crucial delay of game penalty toward end of game

Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel addressed his play calling toward the end of the team’s 34-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills – specifically a fourth-down play in which they were called for delay of game.

Dolphins quarterback Skylar Thompson was trying to lead the team down the field with 4:13 remaining in the game to at least get the tie and force overtime against the Bills in the AFC wild-card matchup. Thompson and the Dolphins had the ball on the 48-yard line when confusion appeared to rise.

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Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott, right, greets Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel after an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. 
(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Miami running back Salvon Ahmed ran the ball on third down for no gain, though it appeared he was at least close to the first-down marker. As the play clock began to tick down, Thompson and the team waited a long time for the play to come in. Thompson would get the team ready but the play clock was winding down and hit zero before the ball was snapped.

The Dolphins received a delay of game penalty and Thompson’s next play was incomplete to Mike Gesicki. The Bills would take over and end the game on their next possession.

McDaniel’s decision-making was scrutinized on social media and he had the opportunity to address it in the postgame press conference.

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel looks at his play sheet during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel looks at his play sheet during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y.
(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

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“There was some crowd noise that had to do with mishearing some digits of the wristband,” McDaniel said after the game. “There was some issues within the huddle of communication and getting to the line of scrimmage and there was the excuse that you don’t use that you don’t use but is a real compounding variable is there was a multiple amount of different people in the huddle when you’re in a nice routine and you have maybe a group of offensive linemen that are being communicated to by the same person; when you have flux like that, it happens. It shouldn’t happen as much as it did.

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel talks to reporters after an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. 

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel talks to reporters after an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. 
(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

“And then the last one in particular had to do with whether it was officials or coaching, there was some communication that we’d gotten first down. So then we were deploying a group of players for the first-and-10 call and then it was articulated that no, it was fourth down. So that miscommunication – that’s all the stuff that you do in this business, is you never stop finding the things that you can improve on and it was a piece of the reason why we were unable to come out with a victory, but it definitely wasn’t the only reason. There was a lot of people who can find several things that they could do better including myself which we will do pressing forward.”

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Miami was 4-for-16 on third down overall. The team had 231 total yards and averaged 3.3 yards per play.

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