What a dramatic, historic and utterly depressing weekend for Dolphins fans – Twin Cities

Sunday’s loser threw four touchdowns. Sunday’s loser had a pristine 136 quarterback rating. Sunday’s loser led his team on two, 75-yard touchdown drives in the final two minutes to give Buffalo the late lead twice.

Sunday’s winner answered with his own passing miracles. Sunday’s winner got the ball with 13 seconds left and made two deep throws for a miraculous tying field goal. Sunday’s winner won the coin flip in overtime and then won the game for Kansas City in a 42-36 thriller.

Have you ever watched a more disheartening game?

Ever heard everyone use words like “dramatic” and “historic” but could not get past the local, “depressing?”

The most immediate thought, and the most distressing and, yes, depressing one in watching that playoff game, is the Miami Dolphins are lost in the wilderness for another football generation. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 26. Buffalo’s Josh Allen is 25.

Yes, you’ll find the Dolphins in the outback, eating birch bark and sleeping on pine needles for years to come.

For most of the previous two decades, the Dolphins faced what was a simple question by comparison: Can you go to New England and win against quarterback Tom Brady?

As Sunday again showed the question has multiplied. Can you go to Buffalo and win against Alllen? And then go to Kansas City and win against Mahomes?

If you can’t project that, what is even being accomplished here? What has changed in decades?

That’s not even getting into who’s going to Kansas City this weekend. Joe Burrow has picked up a sad-sack Cincinnati franchise and lifted it to the AFC Championship game. That’s what elite quarterbacks do, even in their second year.

(Nor out of courtesy will there by any mention of Justin Herbert, the quarterback the Dolphins passed on. He’s in a bad Los Angeles Chargers organization — a defensive coach with the 30th-ranked defense — but would be the first player NFL types like Jimmy Johnson would pick if starting a franchise.)

Four teams remain in the playoffs and it’s clear the model the Dolphins have chosen. Three of the surviving teams — Kansas City, Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Rams — have an elite-level quarterback who lifts everyone like a rising tide.

The fourth is San Francisco and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s good many games. He can be great on occasion. But there’s no pretending that his game can do more than accompany a well-built team to a championship.

That’s what the Dolphins have decided in going all-in on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. It’s not like there were many options by this point. They shut down the one owner Steve Ross and general manager Chris Grier were open for at midseason of trading for Houston’s embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson (and his 22 sexual-misconduct allegations).

The organizational idea for Tagovailoa is now what it was for seven years of Ryan Tannehill: He’s good enough if everyone around him is good enough. Tannehill has been fine in Tennessee, going to the AFC Championship game two years ago and getting the top seed this year.

Well, he was fine until Saturday’s three-interception game cost Tennessee its season. It happens. And now, a decade into his career, people still wonder who Tannehill is.

Back to Tua and the Dolphins: The defense looks fine. But is anything else good enough? Anything at all?

Enter the San Francisco model. It has a defensive line that wins games. It has some good offensive weapons like receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle. It also had superior special teams that blocked a Green Bay field goal and blocked a punt for a touchdown in its win.

The 49ers get some winning plays from Garoppolo and that’s it. They’re in the NFC Championship game under him — just as they were in the Super Bowl a few years back.

The Dolphins model is the 49ers’ model. Sort of. The 49ers tried to move on from Garoppolo in trading up to draft Trey Lance. The Dolphins are all-in on Tagovailoa. At least that’s what they’ve told media, what they’re telling coaching candidates, what they’ve told the full Dolphins roster.

And, let’s face it, what’s the option? It’s not like Aaron Rodgers is walking through the door this offseason. Or Russell Wilson. Why would they?

Take another flyer on another young quarterback in the draft? Sure. Why not? Grier can keep throwing darts.

Sunday night’s fireworks by Allen and Mahomes were distressing for any Dolphins fan. Now comes Burrow and Mahomes. It’s depressing to watch, sitting here, eating birch bark and sleeping on pine needles.

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