NFL: Jaylen Waddle shines, Dolphins beat Saints to win seventh straight
A Dolphins defense that intercepted Saints rookie Ian Book twice and sacked him eight times was probably enough to push Miami’s winning streak to seven games.
Miami also got a big lift from rookie sensation Jaylen Waddle to outclass New Orleans on both sides of the ball.
Waddle caught 10 passes for 92 yards and touchdown in his return from the COVID-19 list, and the Dolphins beat the short-handed Saints 20-3 on Monday night, becoming the first NFL team to win seven straight after losing seven in a row.
“This team stuck together, really the entire year,“ said third-year Miami coach Brian Flores, who improved to 19-7 in games played after October. “Obviously, we dealt with a lot of adversity early in the year. It revealed a lot — revealed the character of the guys in our locker room.
“Our guys kept fighting, they kept sticking together, they worked hard,” Flores added.
Nik Needham intercepted Book and returned the ball 28 yards for a touchdown to help Miami become one of four 8-7 teams — along with Baltimore, the Chargers and Las Vegas — in contention for one of the final playoff spots in the AFC.
Book started for the Saints (7-8) because of a COVID-19 outbreak that took 16 players off the active roster, including starting quarterback Taysom Hill and veteran backup Trevor Siemian.
“Rookie quarterback — we mixed up some looks on him,” Needham said. “Had him a little confused out there and I think that played a big part.”
With the Saints’ offensive line missing three starters, including both tackles, Book completed 12 of 20 passes for 135 yards.
“Just keeping him upright tonight was a challenge,“ Saints coach Sean Payton said. “The first interception was a throw he’ll want back, but that’s a tough position for him to be in.”
The Saints’ defense helped keep the game within reach until Waddle scored on a one-yard shovel pass from Tua Tagovailoa to make it 17-3 with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
Tagovailoa, who entered the game with an NFL-best 69.9% completion rate, connected on 19 of 26 passes (73.1%) for 198 yards and the short score. He also was intercepted by Marshon Lattimore.
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