There simply just wasn't a lot of margin for error in the AFC this season.
In the final analysis, that's what took down the Miami Dolphins' playoff aspirations on the final Sunday of the 2020 regular season.
The Dolphins couldn't clinch their playoff berth against the AFC's second-seeded Buffalo Bills and had to watch fellow 10-team wins Baltimore, Cleveland and Indianapolis win their games to move to 11-5.
As a result, the Dolphins found themselves on the outside looking in despite their impressive 10-6 record. They became the first team in the NFL to miss the playoffs despite winning 10 games since 2015 when it happened to the New York Jets.
As fate would have it, the starting quarterback on that Jets team was Ryan Fitzpatrick and the team's offensive coordinator was Chan Gailey.
For the Dolphins, this marks the fourth time they have missed the playoffs despite reaching 10 wins — and it happened twice in a 14-game season.
Yes, the 1975 Dolphins and the 1977 team both missed the playoffs despite finishing 10-4, though there was only one wild-card team per conference in those days.
The Dolphins also missed out on the playoffs in 2003 despite a 10-6 record.
It actually wasn't that uncommon early last decade, with five teams missing the playoffs at 10-6 from 2010-14.
There also have been two teams that missed the playoffs despite going 11-5, including the 2008 New England Patriots in the year the Dolphins won the AFC East title with that same record. The other team was the 1985 Denver Broncos.
There will come a day when the Dolphins will be able to look back on their 2020 season with pride, but finishing 10-6 didn't feel very good Sunday.
“The season we had last year to this year is a night-and-day difference," offensive lineman Jesse Davis said. "That kind of spoke for just what we did this offseason and what we can do during the season. But obviously wanted to win that game and give us our own shot to get in, but we’ll see what happens tonight. I think this is a great group. We have a really good team from top-down. I just think overall, I think we can fight, we’ve shown we can improve. We can hang with some teams, but tonight wasn’t what we’ve been able to perform.”