McDaniel to be 'forever loyal' as Dolphins end six-year wait for playoff berth

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Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel will be "forever loyal" to the team after they ended a six-year wait for a playoff place with a Week 18 win against the New York Jets.

The Dolphins' 11-6 win saw them seal a first postseason appearance since the 2016 campaign as the New England Patriots fell to an emotionally charged 35-23 defeat against the Buffalo Bills in their opponents' first game since Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest.

While that result eliminated the Patriots, it ensured the Dolphins will face the Bills in the wild-card round, which they last progressed beyond in the 2000 season.

Having become just the fifth Dolphins head coach to make the playoffs in his first season in charge, McDaniel expressed his gratitude to the franchise for taking a punt on him.

"I'm not one to feel entitled to anything," he said. "My walk of life has led to me having an infinite memory. Any time someone takes a chance on me, I'm very loyal to that.

"I know how many other teams were interviewing me – the answer is zero. It feels good that didn't matter, that this is the right fit for everything we're trying to do here. I'll forever be loyal to that.

"It feels tremendous. That doesn't mean the goal was just to get to the playoffs.

"However, you're talking about a fan base that hasn't seen their team go to the playoffs since 2016, it's very fulfilling for the way it happened."

One of the main focuses in the build-up to the game against the Bills will be the condition of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who remains subject to the league's concussion protocol.

"We'll continue to take it day by day," McDaniel said. "I will not even think about any sort of game, whether that's this year or next year, until he's fully ready to do so, with medical clearance.

"There will be some question marks, but fortunately this team has been proven not to blink with any sort of question mark either way.

"We have guys that we really believe in, and we'll go with the healthiest group up to Buffalo and play a very good football team."