The Miami Dolphins received the opening kickoff after the Dallas Cowboys won the coin toss and deferred. The move put the Miami offense and new starting quarterback Josh Rosen on the field. Looking for a spark after two games struggling to do anything on offense, Miami came out hoping to finally get off to a fast start.
The opening drive featured Miami looking to Rosen to move the ball. He found Allen Hurns on first down for six yards, then, after an incomplete pass, Rosen connected with DeVante Parker deep for a 40-yard gain on a one-handed grab. Rosen then looked to Kenyan Drake on a pass that went straight through the running back’s hands. After no gain on a Drake run, Rosen looked deep for Preston Williams, but the two could not connect and Miami attempted a 47-yard field goal. Jason Sanders, looking for just his second field goal of the season, pushed the ball right and Miami came away with no points.
The Cowboys, starting at their own 37 after the missed field goal, started with a deep play of their own as Austin Cooper ran across the middle of the field wide open, with cornerback Xavien Howard beaten on the play, and picked up 37 yards. After a run from Ezekiel Elliott up the middle for three yards, Dak Prescott again found Cooper for five yards, with Howard again beaten on the play. Elliott picked up seven yards, then another one on the next two plays, followed by two incomplete plays before settling for a 28-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
On 1st-and-10 after the kickoff, Rosen looked deep to Hurns, who was rocked and left the game unsteady on his feet. After a Drake run for two yards, Rosen again looked to Williams on third down, and again it was incomplete with the Dolphins punting.
After Matt Haack only punted 31-yards, Dallas started at their own 46-yard line with an Elliott run for five yards. Prescott looked for a wide-open Cooper on a streak on the next play, hitting him in stride only to see the receiver drop the pass. On 3rd-and-5, Prescott found Devin Smith for the first down. Elliott picked up 12 yards on the next play, but an offensive holding call brought the ball back. Prescott overthrew the next two passes, but then rolled out to avoid the rush, finding Jason Witten running down the sideline for the first down. Elliott then picked up 13 yards, setting up 1st-and-Goal from the seven. Elliott picked up two yards on the next play. Then Prescott again looked to Cooper with Howard in coverage, connecting for the five-yard touchdown. Dallas took the 10-0 lead.
The Dolphins pulled off a surprise on-side kick, but somehow Eric Rowe was called for offsides and the Dolphins had to rekick. Not going for two straight on-sides attempts, Miami kicked deep. Eliott picked up five yards on the field place, then Prescott connected with Tony Pollard for eight yards. On 1st-and-10, the Dolphins pass rush could put no pressure on Prescott, who eventually looked deep for Cobb, but Bobby McCain picked off the pass.
Miami did nothing after the turn over, however, with a Drake run for four yards followed by two incomplete passes. Left tackle Jesse David injured his right elbow on the drive and had to leave the game. Miami punted.
Elliott picked up two four-yard gains, then Prescott picked up another four yards with a pass to Cooper. An incomplete pass deep on 1st-and-10 nearly was picked off by McCain, then Elliott picked up three yards and Prescott threw to Blake Jarwin for three yards. Dallas punted.
Rosen scrambled for six yards on the first play, with the tackle pushing his head into the turf. He was pulled out of the game to be checked for a concussion, with Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing him. Drake picked up two yards, then three yards, then Fitzpatrick found Drake for four yards. Fitzpatrick then scrambled away from two possible sacks, managing to throw a jump ball down the field for Williams, who used his size to come down with the 25-yard gain. Rosen returned to the game, with Kalen Ballage picked up no yards on the carry, followed by a six-yard pass from Rosen to Jakeem Grant. Rosen then looked to Williams in the endzone, nearly getting the touchdown but Williams being unable to keep control of the ball. Miami settled for the field goal. Miami cut the Dallas lead to 10-6.
Prescott found Pollard for five yards on the first play, then Pollard picked up six yards, twice, on the next two plays. Prescott appeared to find Cobb for 20 yards, only to have it called back for an illegal shift. Two incomplete passes then ended the drive and Dallas punted.
Miami, with 3:09 remaining in the half, started moving the ball, threatening to take their first lead of the year. Rosen picked up 19 yards on a pass ro Drake, then five yards connecting with Grant. After an incomplete pass, Rosen looked deep toward Parker, with a pass interference call moving the ball 26 yards for the team. Rosen then found Drake for 11 yards. After a timeout, Rosen was incomplete on two straight passes, but a defensive holding call gave Miami a 1st-and-Goal at the seven. Drake carried the ball for no gain on the next play, but he fumbled and the Cowboys recovered.
Dallas immediately looked to get into field goal range with 19 seconds on the clock. Elliott picked up 11 yards on first down, calling timeout immediately thereafter. He then picked up another 14 yards, with another timeout. An incomplete pass was followed by another Elliott 14-yard gain, with the third timeout. Prescott then looked for the half-ending Hail Mary, but it fell incomplete.
Dallas leads 10-6 at the half.
The Dolphins have looked more like a real football team this week - at least early in the game. There is still no effective pass rush, but the secondary, outside of some miscues from Xavien Howard, played well and they have been effective in slowing Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys can still make adjustments for the second half, but Miami is at least in this game through 30 minutes.
The offense has felt a little more open this week, as compared to the last two weeks. It is not going to be confused with a high-powered unit any time soon, but at least they have been able to move the ball. The Dolphins have 384 total yards of offense in the first two games. They have 216 yards in this half.
The Dolphins are in this game and actually looking good. Can they hold on in the second half and come away with a win?