Fitzpatrick had to leave the game in the fourth quarter, with the game in the balance

INDIANAPOLIS — With the Dolphins leading the Colts 13-12 and less than eight minutes to play on Sunday, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took a helmet-to-helmet hit before an incompletion.

Fitzpatrick ran two more plays and Miami kicked a field goal for a 16-12 lead.

But Indianapolis quarterback Brian Hoyer threw an interception on the next play of the game. And Fitzpatrick was told he could not re-enter the game.

A league spotter called down to the field for a concussion check. Fitzpatrick said he understands why the spotter protocol is in place. But he felt the process could have been put into motion and executed quicker.

“It was frustrating because I was on the bench for five minutes,” Fitzpatrick said after Miami’s 16-12 victory. “We were off the field and I had sat on the bench for five minutes going over plays and whatever else. It wasn’t until I went back into the game that it was called down to check on me.”

When Fitzpatrick was told he could not play, backup Josh Rosen was called into action. Rosen handed off three times and Miami punted back to the Colts.

The Dolphins’ defense held. And Miami won. But it’s possible coach Brian Flores and offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea might have been more aggressive if Fitzpatrick had remained in the game.

“Then, also, I just sat in the blue tent for what seemed like 10 minutes, but it was probably one minute, without anybody in there checking me in a very key moment of the game. So I guess I understand why they do it, I like that they do it, but the timing of it was off and that was difficult for me to understand.”

Fitzpatrick said he was hit facemask-to-facemask, but felt fine.

Coach Brian Flores said it was out of Miami’s hands.

“They called down when they called down,” Flores said. “I’m not on the phones there.”

Fitzpatrick scored on an 11-yard touchdown scramble in the second quarter to provide a 10-0 lead.

“When I stepped up, I saw a lot of daylight,” Fitzpatrick said with a smile. “I was surprised I got all the way to the end zone but I made it. So I have a little bit of quickness I guess.”

Said center Daniel Kilgore: “I actually told (Fitzpatrick) right before the play, I said, ‘Hey, if you get a chance, take it.’ It’s awesome the way he tucks the ball and runs. It gets you fired up. Obviously you want him to sit back there clean, in the pocket, but when he sees an open hole and he takes it and scores a touchdown, I’ll take it any day.”

Fitzpatrick passed for 169 yards, was sacked three times, had a quarterback rating of 63.8 and threw a key interception late in the third quarter, intended for Mike Gesicki.

But the tone of Miami’s season has changed since the veteran was reinstalled as the starting quarterback for the past four games, including consecutive victories.

“Fitz has been leading the way and a tough, gritty performance,” Flores said. “Not perfect, obviously. There has never been a perfect game played so I love that he just comes right back in on a scoring drive and I was just very happy.”

@schadjoe

jschad@pbpost.com

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