By Albert Breer http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap100000 ... r-the-edge
Reporter, NFL.com and NFL Network
Published: Oct. 30, 2012 at 03:37 p.m. Updated: Oct. 30, 2012 at 05:41 p.m.
To New Yorkers, what occurred off Exit 16W in New Jersey last Sunday resembled a 12-car pileup.
You can excuse those in Miami, who would view it as something else altogether.
The Miami Dolphins have seen their share of that kind of wreckage over the past few years, with a rookie owner (Stephen Ross) stumbling to find his way, a to-himself general manager (Jeff Ireland) struggling to find the right mix on the roster, and the head coach's office in upheaval. But after the 30-9 drubbing of the Jets in Week 8, the Dolphins were the team emerging from the mess in triumph.
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As one high-ranking Dolphins official put it, "I just think these guys got tired of hearing that we don't have any talent here. They play hard. It's one of the best locker rooms I've seen, with the character and commitment to what we're doing. It's a great group of guys."
Here's how far Miami, which was depicted over the summer by HBO's "Hard Knocks" series as a team in need of direction, has come: When the Dolphins host the New England Patriots in early December, first place in the AFC East could very well be on the line.
Yes, that might be looking a little far ahead for a team with plenty left to prove. And no, the Dolphins aren't on the Patriots' level yet, or even close to it.
But between now and Dec. 2, the Dolphins visit the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills and face the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks at home. So entering that Patriots game with an 8-3 record is hardly out of the question for the Dolphins.
So how in the world did we get here? The Jets, warts and all, came into 2012 as the toughest in-division out for New England by default. The Bills, meanwhile, had made a splash on the free-agent market. What did we miss?
Here are the three primary things:
The Dolphins showed signs of being a quarterback away last year ...
Joe Philbin hasn't wavered ...
The young players fit together and have grown up. ...
Don't misread this as a proclamation that the Dolphins have arrived. Their schedule hasn't exactly been a murderer's row so far. They play the San Francisco 49ers and the Patriots twice in December, so their reckoning sure could be coming.
But consider: Had it not been for a play here or a play there against the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets in September, the Dolphins could be 6-1. Even those tough losses helped; the group learned from them, rebounding with back-to-back one-possession wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Rams. And their victory on Sunday would seem to represent another step forward.
At the very least, in a weakened AFC, Miami looks very much like a threat to play into January. Which is a lot more than most of us "experts" expected.
Video: Bess we have something special - http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-player-in ... ng-special