The Miami Dolphins fell short this past Sunday, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 27 – 33 at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins’ defense started the game strong by generating two interceptions against former MVP Patrick Mahomes. Still, the Dolphins’ offense struggled to convert off the two early turnovers coming away with only three points. Despite the offense’s slow start, the Dolphins were still able to establish a 10 – 0 lead at the top of the second quarter, but Kansas City’s offense was not going to be stopped the entire game, as they put together two touchdown drives to end the first half. The Chiefs carried this momentum in the second half and really dominated in all three phases of the game in the third quarter with a safety from the defense and a 67-yard punt return from Mecole Hardman.
The Chiefs were looking to run away with the game when all-pro cornerback Xavien Howard made a fantastic interception while guarding the speedster Tyreek Hill on his way to the end-zone. This revitalized the offense as rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa strings two touchdown drives back to back in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, the Miami Dolphins were unable to pull off the comeback against the Super Bowl Champions, but there are many positives to take from this game and a few concerns.
Although it may appear otherwise from the final score, the Dolphins’ defense played extremely well against this Patrick Mahomes led offense. Together the defense totaled four turnovers and three sacks, and they held Kansas City’s running backs to only 53 yards. The defense did not step out of its character and played this explosive group man to man and send Mahomes a multitude of different blitzes, and all in all, they were successful. A testament to the blitz being effective is linebacker Jerome Baker leading the game in sacks with 2.5. The secondary also made a variety of plays and was extremely opportunistic. Both Eric Rowe’s and Byron Jones’s interceptions came off of tip balls, and the forced fumble caused by Jones was recovered cleanly.
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The only player the Dolphins’ defense really struggled with was tight end Travis Kelce. Safety Eric Rowe was on him the majority of the game, and this season Rowe has done an excellent job guarding other teams’ tight ends. Kelce had a phenomenal game, with a lot of his receptions being contested by Rowe. It truly was just a great player in Kelce, making great plays and catches. Tyreek Hill’s 44-yard touchdown at the top of the third quarter was due more to starting safety Bobby McCain being out that series and Kansas City taking advantage of that. Despite losing, the Dolphins’ defense proved that they have a great defense that is truly capable of stopping the best offenses in the NFL.
On the other side of the ball, the offense had some spurts of production but could not stay on the field for long periods of time and was not opportunistic. They had a chance to put some serious distance between them and the Chiefs with the two early interceptions in the first quarter, but the team could only generate three points off these two turnovers. These drives failed largely to the lack of the run game and lack of consistency at the receiver’s position. The Dolphins’ running backs averaged 3.1 yards per carry, and neither back had a run over ten yards. The Dolphins had many injures on offense in this game, with Devante Parker, Jakeem Grant, and Mike Gesicki all getting hurt.
This left Tagovailoa basically with zero experienced skill players, and the offense really struggled to stay on the field in the second and third quarter with drives getting killed because of guys not getting open and dropping balls. The offense did not get going until the fourth quarter, where Tua showed tremendous resilience and poise given the deficit and his offense’s injury issues. Tagovailoa ended the day with 316-passing yards, a new career-high, two passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown. Tua is getting more and more comfortable each week and playing at a high level. He is showing his talents and potentially more as he gets more control over this offense. The receivers and running backs need to get back in the lineup and healthy, or production needs to found somewhere else because Tagovailoa cannot have the entire burden of the offense fall on him each game. Consistency at the receiving and running back position is the key for this offense to compete more effectively at a high level.
The Miami Dolphins have a record of 8 – 5 following this loss and still have their postseason hopes intact. The Dolphins will have difficulty claiming the AFC East Division from the Buffalo Bills after their win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but a wildcard spot is more than feasible for the Dolphins. The Dolphins are currently the seventh seed, which means even after this defeat, they still have a wildcard spot currently. There are three games left in the season, and the Dolphins need to win at least two of them to put themselves in a good spot to make the playoffs.