The Miami Dolphins produced one of the most memorable plays of this or any NFL season last week when Kenyan Drake took a lateral from DeVante Parker the final 52 yards to cap off a 69-yard hook and lateral touchdown to beat the Patriots. Thanks to that win, Miami is right in the thick of the AFC Wild Card picture with three games left in the season.
As the team prepares to make the trip to Minnesota to face the Vikings this Sunday, we caught up with the man who was on the call for the ‘Miami Miracle’ and along with Dan Fouts and Evan Washburn will be on the call in Minnesota, NFL on CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle. We asked Ian about the play, the Dolphins’ playoff chances and more as we head into Week 15 of the NFL season.
CBS Local Sports: There are a couple of big games this weekend on CBS, but I want to start with your game this past weekend in Miami. What was it like for you in the booth to watch that final play for the Dolphins unfold?
Ian Eagle: It’s still almost inconceivable that it happened, considering all the circumstances. I have been in the booth a number of times when teams in a desperate situation attempt to lateral the ball multiple times at the end of a game, and normally it is bedlam. There are flags everywhere. And there is an anticlimactic feel to all of it.
This was so crisp and clean. And you have the added layer that it happened to the New England Patriots, the team that is usually so buttoned up and prepared for these moments. If anything, New England normally would do that to their opponent. They would force you to make one extra play. In this scenario, it is the Pats on the wrong end of history. It was incredible, and I don’t know if we will see anything like it again in the NFL. No time remaining, a 69-yard hook and lateral, lateral. It was the Great Drake Escape.
CBS Local Sports: The Great Drake Escape, we’re going to have to trademark that phrase (Both laughing). Thanks to that play the Dolphins are in the thick of the AFC wild card race as they head to Minnesota this week to face the Vikings. From what you saw in Miami last weekend, do the Dolphins have what it takes to make the postseason?
Ian Eagle: The question now is, do the Dolphins use this as a launching pad? Does this become one of a number of memories along the way for a playoff run? Everything is set up for it. They have momentum. They have winnable games on their schedule (@Vikings, vs. Jaguars, @Bills). They have a quarterback, in Ryan Tannehill, who has shown very good command, with Adam Gase as his head coach. His numbers under Gase are very good.
Now they have this signature moment they can build off. It is lined up for them to succeed. They have to go out and actually do it.
CBS Local Sports: The Dolphins face the Vikings this week who just fired offensive coordinator, John DeFillippo, after their struggles on Monday night. With largely the same cast of guys, outside of quarterback Kirk Cousins, why do you think the team has struggled so much on offense this season?
Ian Eagle: There has been a focus on trying to establish the run, and it appears as if it has thrown off their rhythm. Clearly, there was a change made this week at offensive coordinator, because Mike Zimmer was not happy with the performance of that unit week-in and week-out. I look at the team and see a lot of weapons on offense, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that they haven’t been able to get the ball rolling on that side of the ball.
Maybe Kevin Stefanski can bring a new perspective to things. It has to happen soon. They are reeling at the wrong time.
CBS Local Sports: Speaking of reeling teams, in Pittsburgh, the Steelers are reeling after a loss to the Raiders. They now face their long-time nemesis New England, whom they haven’t beaten in the last five meetings. What needs to change for Pittsburgh this week to get the win?
Ian Eagle: They are just out of sorts. The season has been a series of very distinct chapters for them. The struggles early on, then the hot streak and now another dip. They dealt with a lot of drama, and you wondered how that would affect them long-term. I don’t know if there is a direct correlation to the Le’Veon Bell holdout and eventually not signing with the team. The comments of the offensive line about Bell. Ben Roethlisberger not being 100 percent healthy and questioning his teammates at times.
It has been a strange season for the Steelers. Mike Tomlin normally finds the right buttons to push at the right time. This year has been an oddity.
CBS Local Sports: For New England, as wild as the Dolphins loss was, Brady and the offense looked good. What did you see from their offense against Miami that was maybe different from the team we saw at the beginning of this season?
Ian Eagle: I think the mystique is not quite what it has been in previous years. That isn’t to say they aren’t still capable of yet another AFC Championship Game and going to another Super Bowl. But, it just feels like the road has been more difficult for them.
The offense is still dangerous. Brady’s chemistry with Josh Gordon has been excellent. Lost amid the Miami Miracle, Rob Gronkowski had big numbers against Miami. He shouldn’t play safety anymore, but he is clearly still one of the best at his position. Last week, the running game never quite established, and James White was not in the gameplan. I would expect him to play a much larger role against the Steelers.