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Dolphins in control after winning statement game

Let's begin with the fact Sunday's victory over the Patriots was, as I wrote in my column today, a statement victory.

The Dolphins planted a flag, drew a line, and dared the Patriots to overrun their position. Pat riley

That was how coach Joe Philbin put it to players when he had the pictured pamphlet put in every player's locker stall.

Think of the words: "Plant your feet, stand firm and make a point about who you are ..."

(Yeah, Pat Riley rocks).

The Dolphins are making the point that they are more than just a playoff aspirant now. They are a contender.

They've beaten New England, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati -- all teams that currently are in the playoff picture and, indeed, are leading their divisions.

They've beaten Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. That's some serious QB talent right there.

They've won 4 at home. They've won four on the road.

The Dolphins are 3-0 in December. Ryan Tannehill is ballin' as I predicted he would.

Things are looking good. The Dolphins are making a statement that hasn't been made in these parts since the 2008 run to the AFC East title.

If the Dolphins win out -- meaning, they win at Buffalo and win the season-finale versus the Jets -- they are in the playoffs. The issue no longer devolves into a tiebreaker with Baltimore based on Cincinnati's loss to Pittsburgh Sunday night.

If both the Dolphins and Patriots finish 10-6, the Dolphins win the AFC East. That would require New England losses to Baltimore and Buffalo. -- which I don't see happening -- but obviously the possibility exits. There's also a possibility a sixth-seed Miami travels to New England for a playoff game.

Never mind that.

The Dolphins must win their final two games. Success makes Sunday's victory meaningful. On the other hand ...

"This looses all it's luster if we don't win the last two games of the season," receiver Brian Hartline said. "This will mean more if we win the last two games."

Enjoy it anyway.

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