Dolphins surge back in second half but ultimately fall short, lose 31-24 to Brady-less, Gronk-less, Patriots
Once again, the Dolphins found a way to come close but not close enough as they fell to the New England Patriots by a score of 31-24. Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdowns in the second half while rookie Kenyan Drake ran in for his first career rushing touchdown to bring the score within one touchdown, but on the last play of the game, Tannehill threw a deep pass into the end zone to DeVante Parker, which was intercepted to officially end the game.
Despite the struggles by the offense in the first half, the bigger story here is the defense's inability - once again - to stop opposing offenses. New England marched down the field and easily scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, quickly running up the score to 24-0 before second half even started.
The tide began to turn when New England's backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo left the game with an injury to his throwing shoulder after a hit by linebacker Kiko Alonso. He never returned and forced rookie Jacoby Brissett to come into the game and take over.
Granted, he wasn't asked to do much once he was in, nor was it necessary as running back LeGarrette Blount ran for 123 yards on 29 carries and exposed the problems Miami has had defending the run over the past two seasons. The Patriots only scored one touchdown in the second half after a fumble by running back Jay Ajayi, but it was enough to put the game out of reach.
To his credit, Ryan Tannehill was largely responsible for the Dolphins making the comeback in the first place, at one point he was 20 of 21 for 248 yards and of course the two touchdowns before he finally ran out of magic and threw the game-ending interception that Parker couldn't quite get to.
Of course, there will be people who say that Tannehill's stats mean nothing, since the Patriots had a 21 point lead at halftime and their defense had pretty much taken the rest of the game off, letting Miami's QB pad his stats once again and make himself look better than he is.
Against any other team, that might be a plausible theory. But this is the New England Patriots. They don't take their foot off the gas pedal just because they're up big, when an opponent is down, they step on their throats and go in for the kill, humiliating them if at all possible. Holding back isn't their style.
However, any complaints regarding the offense's inability to get going early are completely and totally valid. Getting off to slow starts has plagued the Dolphins since last season, and there's no indication as of yet that that's going to change. But, there is good news regarding the second half.
Second half adjustments were pretty strong, and one can only presume that Adam Gase had a lot to do with it. The playcalling was better and the tempo was faster. Unfortunately, costly mistakes by Ajayi and Jarvis Landry created problems and made things difficult to keep momentum.
To make a long story short, the biggest problem right now with the Dolphins is that they can't seem to play good football for the full four quarters, and they can't seem to stay out of their own way. That's the challenge that Adam Gase has ahead of him.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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