Alabama in the Pros

RB Kenyan Drake helps Dolphins knockout Bills, to close in on final playoff spot

Kenyan Drake eyes his first playoff appearance in the National Football League and wants to deliver the Miami Dolphins a postseason berth for the first time since 2008. A third-round pick from the University of Alabama, Drake made solid contributions in Saturday’s 34-31 win over the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Coach Rex Ryan needed a victory to keep Buffalo’s playoff hopes alive, but Drake’s first carry of the game quickly tested the goal. During his senior year at Alabama (2015), the Georgia native had two jaw-dropping runs. In the Crimson Tide’s season opener against Wisconsin, he was credited with a 43-yard touchdown.

While most thought he would stopped for a loss, Drake’s elusiveness allowed him to pop out the back side and accelerate along the perimeter for a score. A similar play occurred 13 weeks later against Michigan State. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound running back found a hole on the right side and maneuvered downfield for 58 yards.

Going back to his run on Saturday, Drake kept his balance despite running into a teammate. He then proceeds to circle around the right side for a 45-yard touchdown, moving the Dolphins to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. His second rushing score of the year capped a game, in which he totaled 56 yards on four carries.

Drake accounted for three first down runs and made two critical plays on special teams, including returning a kickoff for 39 yards. The kick return came late in regulation, setting up Miami with an opportunity to send the contest into overtime. Adam Franks made two field goals, with one being a 27-yard attempt to seal the game.

With the win, the Dolphins are 10-5 and remain in the possession of the second and final wildcard spot in the AFC playoff picture. A loss to Denver against Kansas City on Sunday gives Miami a postseason berth.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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