Tyreek Hill is going to be watching his former team play in the Super Bowl for a second consecutive season Sunday on the strength of a playoff run that began against his Miami Dolphins.
The 26-7 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs at frigid Arrowhead Stadium marked a second consecutive first-round playoff exit in Hill's two seasons with Miami and the All-Pro wide receiver says his team needs to take the next step in 2024.
"Well, there are no more excuses," Hill said. "I feel like all the excuses have run out at this point. The first year we went to the playoffs together, we didn't have our quarterback. This year, we went to the playoffs, it was freezing cold, we had our quarterback. And now it's almost time like we have ran run out of excuses. Like everybody has literally had reps at playing in the playoffs. So now it's all on us."
2023 MORE OF THE SAME FOR DOLPHINS
The Dolphins' 2023 season mirrored in a lot of ways that of 2022 when the team was in a great position for AFC playoff seeding purposes heading into December, but stumbled down the stretch and had to go on the road for its first playoff matchup.
The one difference, of course, is that the Dolphins had QB Tua Tagovailoa in the lineup for the playoff game at Kansas City this year after he had to miss the playoff game at Buffalo a year ago because of his concussion issues.
The Dolphins did have some injury issues again down the stretch in 2023, particularly on defense, though it played well enough to give the Dolphins a chance to win the playoff game or the regular season finale against the Bills at Hard Rock Stadium, where a win would have given the Dolphins the AFC East title and a home playoff game.
Hill was among those dealing with injuries down the stretch, though he did play the final four games and even managed to do a backflip after his touchdown in that Week 18 game against Buffalo.
"Moving forward, we've got to continue on that strong trend that we began the season with," Hill told NFL Network. "And I feel like in our last playoff game, our defense gave us enough opportunities to win that game. They got enough stops for us to win the game. Offensively, we've just got to get it going. We've got to be able to put drives together so our defense can stay off the field. All that takes is just some veteran leadership during the week, preparing ourselves fundamentally, being able to play fast even when it's negative-3 degrees outside. And just do what our coaches tell us to do. I feel like Coach (Mike) McDaniel, especially my (wide receivers) coach Wes Welker, those guys, they did a great job the whole entire season of preparing us for moments like that like we had against Kansas City.
"So next year no more excuses, man. I feel like it's all on us, man. So Fin Nation, you can expect a whole lot more from us."
ASSESSING HILL'S ASSESSMENT
Hill certainly has done his part to make the Dolphins successful — to the degree they've been successful — the past two seasons, earning All-Pro and team MVP honors each time.
Him finishing sixth in the NFL MVP voting also served as validation — even confirmation — that he was the one most responsible for the success of the offense.
But it's also true that he's been slowed by injuries toward the end of his season and the Dolphins absolutely need the dynamic Hill at the top of his game in the final weeks of the regular season and in the playoffs.
His comments certainly are what we should have expected from Hill, who's been a hype man of sorts for the Dolphins since he arrived in March 2022.
It also was good to hear him talk about "no more excuses," even if the better excuse for the loss at Kansas City should have been the injuries on defense as opposed to the weather since both teams had to play in the same conditions.
The bottom line, though, is that Hill's comments will be revisited no doubt, but not until the Dolphins get to the playoffs again in 2024.