The Miami Dolphins were already depleted by injuries going into their critical AFC East matchup against the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
It only got worse on the momentum-altering play that gave the Patriots a lead they didn’t relinquish in the Dolphins’ 23-21 loss.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, already playing for starter Tua Tagovailoa, who is recovering from a concussion, injured a finger on his throwing hand and exited after throwing an interception that was returned for a go-ahead touchdown by Patriots safety Kyle Dugger in the third quarter.
“I don’t know the severity,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “I believe it was on making the tackle on the pick-six, but that’s something that we’ll find out more in the coming days.”
Pro Football Talk reported Bridgewater is believed to have broken the finger. He finished 12 of 19 for 161 yards, a touchdown and the costly interception.
Rookie Skylar Thompson, who could be in line to start Miami’s most crucial game of the season with playoff hopes on the line in next week’s finale against the New York Jets, went 12 for 21 for 104 yards, a late touchdown and an interception.
Miami was also without left tackle Terron Armstead, cornerback Xavien Howard and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, as all three were announced as inactives 90 minutes before kickoff after entering as game-time decisions.
“They all were working out pregame,” McDaniel said. “Between themselves and the medical staff, knew it wasn’t the best for the Dolphins to put them out there.”
Armstead and Howard are two of the Dolphins’ three Pro Bowl selections this season, both with four in their careers. Chubb is also a former Pro Bowler whom Miami acquired for a first-round draft pick at this season’s trade deadline.
McDaniel passed on using the injuries as an excuse for Miami’s fifth consecutive loss.
“There’s not anybody in the locker room that is asterisking this loss,” he said. “They know deep down that we were plenty capable of getting the job done, and we didn’t.”
Armstead was out after missing the entire week of practice as he nurses ailments to four body parts — toe, pectoral, knee and hip.
With Armstead out, Miami started Kendall Lamm, who was signed to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday. Lamm then made a second-quarter exit with an ankle injury and Greg Little, who entered questionable with a foot injury sustained at Friday’s practice, was inserted at left tackle. Brandon Shell remained the starting right tackle. Fellow tackle Eric Fisher was inactive after entering doubtful with a calf injury.
Howard’s absence for a knee injury that showed up on Thursday’s injury report meant the Dolphins started cornerback Keion Crossen opposite Kader Kohou. Nickel packages involved Noah Igbinoghene. Safety Jevon Holland left Sunday’s game momentarily holding his lower left arm, but he was able to return and said after the game he was fine.
With Chubb out due to hand and ankle ailments, Andrew Van Ginkel started and received more outside linebacker snaps in a rotation with Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram. The team also elevated Brennan Scarlett from the practice squad Saturday.
Fullback Alec Ingold (thumb) and wide receiver River Cracraft (calf) entered questionable but were active.
The Dolphins also had wide receiver Erik Ezukanma and tight end Tanner Conner as healthy inactives.
The Patriots were also ravaged by injuries with seven inactives: Wide receiver DeVante Parker, tight end Jonnu Smith, cornerbacks Marcus Jones, Jalen Mills and Shaun Wade, running back Kevin Harris and defensive tackle Sam Roberts.
The Dolphins had Liam Eichenberg as the starting left guard after his activation from injured reserve this past week.
There was a debate over whether Miami would keep Robert Jones at the position, where he filled in well in place of Eichenberg since he suffered the knee injury on Oct. 30 at Detroit.
Eichenberg said he felt slower than he would like to be Sunday but made it through okay without any collisions on the knee.
“Just kind of getting back in the swing of things,” he said. “It felt good. Biggest thing was my knee didn’t hurt.”
Lamm was lined up with the first-team offensive line at left tackle in his first game signed to the active roster after getting elevated from the practice squad twice. Little, slotted as the swing backup tackle, then entered for Lamm before halftime due to the ankle ailment that forced Lamm to be carted into the locker room.
“He’s a good player,” Little said of Lamm as he got the start over him “Just got to be ready for wherever the coach needs you.”