The Miami Dolphins hosted the Denver Broncos in a Week 13 showdown between two teams with losing records. It has been a rough year for both teams, but things seemed to turn around for the Dolphins in it. Miami came away with the victory, dominating the Broncos 35-9.
First Half Recap
The Dolphins received the ball first after the Broncos elected to defer the choice to the second half. Miami started with a one-yard gain from Kenyan Drake, then a short pass from Jay Cutler to Drake for three yards. On 3rd-and-6, Miami went to their tried - and usually failed - go-to of the bubble screen, but Jarvis Landry actually picked up seven yards and a first down. After an incomplete pass, Cutler found tight end Julius Thomas for nine yards, which was then followed by an encroachment penalty on the Broncos, giving Miami a first down. Drake picked up two-yards on the next play, followed by a 12-yard pass from Cutler to Landry. Drake then picked up 17 yards on an outside run, but it was negated by a holding penalty on center Mike Pouncey. After a one-yard scramble from Cutler, Drake picked up four yards, followed by a short pass from Cutler to Drake for five yards on a 3rd-and-15 play. Miami punted, pinning Denver back at their own 11-yard line after keeping the Broncos defense on the field for six-and-a-half minutes.
Denver attempted to get the offense moving with a C.J. Anderson run for six yards, followed by another for seven yards, then another for eight yards. On the fourth-straight run, Miami stuffed him for no gain, which was followed by an incomplete pass from Trevor Siemian. After another incomplete pass, Siemian looked for Emanuel Sanders, but the ball cbounced off the receivers hands and into T.J. McDonald’s arms for a Miami interception.
Miami could only go three-and-out after the pick, however, after Cutler was sacked for a six-yard loss on second down.
The Broncos started at their own five-yard line after a penalty on the punt return. After getting stuffed for no gain on first down, the Dolphins nearly got a safety after a holding penalty in the endzone by the Broncos, but it was offset by a penalty on the Dolphins for holding. On the replayed second down, Jamal Charles gained no yards, which was then followed by the Dolphins getting their two points when the shotgun snapped sailed over Siemian’s head and he threw the ball out of bounds just as Cameron Wake reached him, preventing the Dolphins from getting a touchdown on the fumble recovery.
Dolphins safety. MIA 2-0.
Miami started with the ball on their own 42-yard line after the free kick, with Drake picking up seven yards on first down. On second down, however, Darke was pulled down from behind for a five-yard loss, leading to a 3rd-and-8 attempt. Cutler looked toward DeVante Parker on the deep throw, which would have converted the downs, but good coverage kept Parker from being able to make a play on the ball and Miami was forced to punt.
The Dolphins’ struggles covering a tight end showed up on second down, with Siemian finding Virgil Green for 36 yards. Denver then backed that up with a 23 yard Siemian to Bennie Fowler III pass. Running back Devontae Booker picked up five yards on the first play of the second quarter, then was stopped for no gain on a pass from Siemian with Kiko Alonso cutting off the play. After an incomplete pass, Brandon McManus connected on a 31-yard field goal.
Broncos field goal. DEN 3-2.
Cutler and the Miami offense suddenly figured out that it is legal to throw the ball more than three yards when, on the next drive, the quarterback found Stills for 22 yards and Landry for 25 yards. The drive also say Drake pick up 14 yards on three carries, while Parker added six yards to convert a 3rd-and-4 on a shovel pass from Cutler as the quarterback was nearly sacked. The drive ended with a nine-yard touchdow from Cutler to Julius Thomas.
Dolphins touchdown. Miami 9-3.
On first down, Siemian looked to Demaryius Thomas, but Xavien Howard stepped in front and intercepted the pass, the first of his career, returning it 25 yards for the touchdown.
Dolphins touchdown. Miami 17-3.
The defense was not going to back off on the next possession, after Anderson picked up 17 yards on two carries, then Miami shutting them down. An incomplete pass on first down was followed by a one-yard loss on a run stuff from Bobby McCain, who met Anderson in the backfield. Andre Branch then sacked Siemian on third down, leading to a Denver punt.
After an 11-yard run from Drake, Cutler looked deep for Stills, but the ball bounced up in the air as it got to Stills and Chris Harris came away with the interception.
The Broncos would go three-and-out after the pick, giving the Dolphins the ball back with just under five-minutes remaining in the half.
Miami began bleeding the clock on the next drive, with Drake picking up three yards, eight yards, one yard, seven yards, and two yards on the drive. The two pass attempts picked up 11 yards as Cutler found Stills, then was incomplete on 3rd-and-1 as the ball was deflected just as Cutler tried to throw it. Miami held the ball for 3:13 on the possession, picking up 32 yards on seven plays before punting it back to the Broncos, a punt that was downed inside the 10-yard line.
The Broncos attempted to make something of the possession, going to the air for six yards, ten yards, 20 yards, and five yards before penalties started kicking in. Back-to-back holding penalties dropped the team from their own 49-yard line back to their 29-yard line. After that, a 14-yard run from Anderson basically killed the clock.
First Half Reactions
The Dolphins’ defense showed up today for the first time in several weeks, and it did a great job in the first half to get Miami out into the lead. Nine points of Miami’s first-half 16 came straight from the defense, with the safety and the pick six. Now, heading into the second half, Adam Gase has said the Miami defense is built to play with a lead - now is time to prove it.
The offense has not been bad either today, with Cutler opening it up a little and starting to look beyond three yards. Drake is running well, with 55 yards on 14 carries in the half. Nothing has been spectacular - except maybe the catch on the ground from Stills - but it has been solid and good.
Jason Taylor received his Hall of Fame ring during a ceremony during the intermission. It was well done and included unveiling the Hall of Fame logo next to his name in the team’s Ring of Honor. Now, they need to do another ceremony to formally retire the number 99.
And, we love you too, Jason!
Second Half Recap
Denver received the opening kick of the half, then did nothing with the ball. A one-yard run from Anderson started the drive, then Jordan Phillips ate up Jamal Charles for a four-yard loss on a pass from Siemian, then an incomplete pass from Siemian toward Demaryius Thomas ended the possession.
Jakeem Grant returned the kick 22 yards to give Miami the ball at the Denver 48-yard line. Drake picked up two yards on first down, then Cutler found Landry for seven yards. After Drake picked up the first down on a four-yard gain, the play was called back for holding, with two possible penalties on the play. On 3rd-and-11, Cutler looked toward Landry, who was clearly being held, but no penalty was called and the Dolphins settled for a 37-yard field goal from Cody Parkey.
Dolphins field goal. MIA 19-3.
The Broncos started in a hole on their next possession, picking up a false start on first down to make it 1st-and-15. Siemian was able to find Anderson on a short pass on second down, with the running back picking up 25 yards. After an incomplete pass, Anderson picked up five yards on the ground. Jordan Phillips ended the possession, however, as he sacked Siemian for a 14-yard loss, then Terrence Fede blocked the punt with Michael Thomas recovering the loose ball.
After a two-yard run from Grant on first down, Cutler found Stills with a beautiful deep ball, dropping it right in between the coverage. As Stills fought for extra yards, however, the ball was punched out of his hands and Denver recovered the fumble.
#Dolphins QB Jay Cutler with a beautiful intermediate pass to Kenny Stills. The touch he puts on this ball to float it into a zone between the LB and Safety is amazing. Notice how he stepped up into this one! #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/20R573TRI1— Tom Like (@TomLikeNFL) December 3, 2017
Denver would go three-and-out on their drive, with Grant again returning the ball into the Broncos’ territory.
On 1st-and-10 from the Denver 48-yard line, Drake picked up nine yards. After no gain on a second down run, Cutler tried to force a pass to Parker, only to have it picked off by Justin Simmons. The pick was returned 65 yards for the touchdown, with a missed two-point attempt.
Broncos touchdown. MIA 19-9.
The Broncos attempted an onside kick, but Miami managed to recover it, with MarQueis Gray getting the ball. Cutler then found Thomas for two yards, only to have Drake give it back on a three-yard loss on the next play. Cutler moved the chains on a deep ball to Stills for 20 yards. Then, Drake finished the drive with a 42-yard touchdown run, breaking tackles along the way.
Dolphins touchdown. MIA 26-9.
Both teams then traded three-and-outs.
Denver started their next possession at their own nine yard line, losing five yards on first down with Vincent Taylor stuffing Anderson on the run. Siemian found Demaryius Thomas on second down, picking up six yards on the play. After the break between the third- and fourth-quarters, Siemian looked deep to Demaryius Thomas, but it was overthrown, with some help from a leaping Xavien Howard, and the Broncos punted again.
Miami would match the punt, going three-and-out themselves, pinning the Broncos at their own six-yard line with Neville Hewitt getting to the ball.
A false start backed up the Broncos more, making it 1st-and-13 from their own three-yard line, with Anderson picking up those three yards on a carry. On 2nd-and-10, Siemian got rid of the ball under pressure from Charles Harris, throwing an incomplete pass toward Anderson. On 3rd-and-11, Siemian connected with Anderson for 12 yards, the first third-down conversion of the game for the Broncos. Anderson then picked up nine yards on the ground for Denver. Then, Howard decided to come up with his second interception of the game, picking off a deflected pass and giving Miami the ball at the Denver 23-yard line.
Cutler would find Stills in the back of the endzone on the first play after the interception for a 23-yard score.
Dolphins touchdown. MIA 33-9.
And then Miami breaks out the onside kick and recover it, keeping the ball.
After an incomplete pass in which Cutler was thrown to the ground but no penalty was called, Drake picked up four yards, setting up 3rd-and-6. Cutler was sacked on the third down play, setting up a scoring opportunity for the team with the punt. A fumbled return landed in the endzone, with Miami getting a second safety in the game.
Dolphins safety. MIA 35-9.
Miami turned to the running game after the safety, picking up 12 yards with Senorise Perry, then losing one yard. Perry picked up two more yards before an incomplete pass from Cutler and the team punted.
The Broncos would then go three-and-out and punt the ball back to Miami.
Miami replaced Cutler with David Fales for the next possession, with Perry again getting the carries. Picking up nine yards on the first two plays, Fales looked deep to Parker on 3rd-and-1, but the ball fell incomplete and Miami punted.
That was finally a complete performance from both sides of the ball. It does not solve everything, making this an elite club in the league, but it was nice to see and could show they are starting to figure something out. They still have tough games - like next week’s Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots - and they could revert back to what we had seen over the last five weeks, but it was nice to see the team looking good and taking care of business.
The refs in this game were horrendous. There were three clear pass interference and/or holding penalties that were not called against the Broncos, Fede’s unnecessary roughness call when the punter ran over to try to block him, Stills being called for unsportsmanlike conduct for knocking the ball out of a player’s hand after he scored, and Cutler being thrown down after throwing a pass without a penalty were all just bad.
- Jay Cutler 18-for-31, 235 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 2 sacks, 76,7 rating; 1 carry, 1 yard
- David Fales 0-for-1
- Kenyan Drake 23 carries, 120 yards, 5.2 average, 1 TD; 3 rec, 21 yards
- Senorise Perry 5 carries, 22 yards, 4.4 average
- Jakeem Grant 1 carry, 2 yards, 2.0 average; 2 kick returns, 18.5 average; 4 punt returns, 15.3 average
- Kenny Stills 5 rec, 98 yards, 1 TD
- Jarvis Landry 5 rec, 62 yards
- Julius Thomas 3 rec, 20 yards, 1 TD
- Anthony Fasano 1 rec, 29 yards
- DeVante Parker 1 rec, 5 yards
- Lawrence Timmons 6 tackles, 1 pass defensed
- Kiko Alonso, 5 yackles
- Stephone Anthony 5 tackles
- Bobby McCain 4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 3 pass defensed
- Ndamukong Suh 4 tackles, 2 QB hits
- Reshad Jones 4 tackles
- Chase Allen 3 tackles
- Jordan Lucas 3 tackles
- Jordan Phillips 2 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 pass defensed, 2 QB hits
- Cordrea Tankersley 2 tackles
- Vincent Taylor 2 tackles, 1 TFL
- Charles Harris 2 tackles
- Mike Hull 2 tackles
- Alterraun Verner 1 tackle, 1 pass defensed
- Andre Branch 1 tackle, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit
- Xavien Howard 1 tackle, 5 pass defensed, 2 INT, 1 TD
- T.J. McDonald 1 tackle, 1 pass defensed 1 INT
- Terrence Fede 1 QB hit, 1 blocked punt
- Cody Parkey 1-for-1 FG, 37 long; 4-for-4 XP; 7 points
- Matt Haack 9 punts, 42.9 average, 1 TB, 7 in 20