Miami pulled off a season-stabilizing upset of the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night 22-20 after Wake recorded the third overtime safety in NFL history. After a week of wacky World Series endings, it felt appropriate for football to respond with a Wake-off.
The play couldn't have come at a better time. After starting 3-0, the Dolphins' season was slipping away. They already had wasted a 17-3 second-half lead for the second consecutive week. In front of a half-empty stadium, in a game played deep into the night, the Dolphins got the ball trailing by three points with 1:18 left in regulation. Staring at a five-game losing streak, the Dolphins desperately needed their signature players to step up in a big moment.
Ryan Tannehill thew one of the prettiest passes you'll ever see to Brian Hartline. Struggling rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis hit a clutch kick to force overtime. And Wake finished off the game with a safety in the fourth possession of overtime. The Dolphins are alive at 4-4.
Reducing Wake's impact to just the winning play is unfair. Wake had three sacks and two more tackles for loss. He also forced Andy Dalton to get rid of the ball quickly on a crucial third-down play in overtime, causing the Bengals to punt. The Dolphins struggled to get off the field all night; Wake's big plays saved an otherwise tired defense.
There was so much going on in this game, from Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins' apparent torn ACL, to Gio Bernard's jaw-dropping performance, Lamar Miller's first 100-yard game on the ground, to a lot of questionable calls.
In the end, the desperate team won. After a tumultuous week that included a grand jury subpoena, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin's emotional breakdown, and in-house grumbling, the Dolphins appeared to be on the verge of implosion.
One win, led by one monster performance on Halloween, should calm everyone down.