It was 21 days ago, in a less-than-full Raymond James Stadium, when the Miami Dolphins did just what many expected them to do following the outbreak of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin case.

The Dolphins lost to the winless, seemingly hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers that night and it was to be the beginning of the end of their playoff hopes.

Except the Dolphins have responded by winning two of their last three games and nearly knocking off the surging Carolina Panthers in the game they lost. They haven't folded, haven't quit and are hoping they can soon welcome back a potentially huge addition to the lineup and locker room in Incognito, who will be suspended with pay for two more weeks.

"We believe in our coaches and we're going to trust their decision, but at the same time, we know what type of guy he is and we know what he can bring to our team, so we'd love to have him back," wide receiver Mike Wallace told FOX Sports by phone after Sunday's 23-3 victory over the New York Jets. "We're not paid to make those decisions; we're paid to go out there and play football and trust our coaches to make the right decisions. But we always think about Richie."

When the Martin-Incognito situation initially unfolded and resulted in Incognito being suspended by the team on Nov. 3, many of Incognito's teammates came to his defense. The message then was more of defending a guy they believed hadn't done much wrong.

The tone has now shifted and Incognito could wind up coming through this situation in better shape than initially expected. Whereas once it was merely about coming to a teammate's defense, now it's more about a team that's locked in the playoff race (tied with the Baltimore Ravens with an overall record of 6-6 but technically in seventh place because of a loss to Baltimore) hoping they can get back a big piece.