By: Jason Sarney
Every week is different in the NFL, every win is different, every loss is different and week 14 at Hard Rock stadium was the epitome of this. Miami hobbled into a match-up against the defending Super Bowl champions and lost 33-27. While initially coming out strong, they seemed to lose a hold of the game in the third quarter, only to storm back in the fourth, only to let the game fall out of their hands one last time.
Before talking about what the Dolphins did not do against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, let's talk about who they did not have going into this game without an injured starting offensive lineman in veteran Ereck Flowers as well as linebackers Kyle van Noy and Elandon Roberts, not to mention top wide receiver target Preston Williams who has been out for several weeks.
Not to mention, DeVante Parker getting hurt early with a leg injury as well as Mike Gesicki, late in the second half injuring what seems to be his shoulder as well as Bobby McCain suffering injuries leading to two touchdowns while he was off the field. He has not been off the field at all in any defensive snap in the last five games prior.
What was extremely impressive was the defensive play of the secondary against the league’s premier quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. Sure, he put up his usual stellar yardage statistics with 393 passing yards and a pair of scores, the Dolphins picked him off three times. Something he has only ever done once before as a pro.
The secondary, led by Xavien Howard, who tallied his 9th seasonal interception and 5th, in as many games, made a picturesque one-handed, falling-back interception that was reminiscent of Brent Grimes. As many chances as the Miami defense gave the offense, the deficit was simply too much to overcome, and the Dolphins simply started to run out of players.
As hard as it is to look at NFL games as moral victories, this was exactly that. Taking the champs to the brink, down several starters and then some, is admirable in the least of its forms. Byron Jones has his signature game, intercepting a tipped ball by Andrew Van Ginkel early in the game, and later forcing a fumble in a stellar punch-play following a big gain. Jones also defended a pass.
Speaking of that, Eric Rowe was once again a ball-hawk, picking off one himself, as well as defending a pair. Jerome Baker was stellar, getting 2.5 sacks on Mahomes, one of which went for a loss of 30 yards. Christian Wilkins got in on that .5 sack late in the game to give Miami another opportunity in the 4th.
Alas, it was too little too late, and although Tua Tagovailoa played well, his receivers didn’t consistently come up big when needed, as there were several missed opportunities and drops, most noticeably by Jakeem Grant when a drop or play that could be deemed as one he should have had, led to an interception.
Tua threw for 316 yards on 28/48 passing and rushed for his first NFL touchdown in the 4th from the 1-yard line. Prior to a late awkward tackle on Mike Gesicki, Tua was masterful in their connection, as they paired for two scores, the latter being a gorgeous 29-yard strike in triple coverage. The aforementioned tackle seemed to lead Gesicki to favor his right shoulder, as it did not look good, and news will be developing on his status.
At the moments following the loss, the Dolphins and fan-base now go to watch mode, being in the thick of the AFC play-off hunt. With the Patriots losing on Thursday, and the Colts and Raiders facing off in the Sunday late slate, as well as a Bills and Steelers match-up, it will be interesting to see where Miami stands this evening.
Regardless of standing, they are heading into a winnable, yet difficult trio of games to get to a double-digit win season, as falling short by one game, may still give them a berth into the post-season at 10 or 11 wins. Something by itself, is absolutely remarkable in coach Brian Flores’s second season.