The Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys completed their Week 3 contest, a game that was surprisingly close, considering the 23-point point spread before the game, at least in the first half. The Dolphins came out looking more like a professional football team, and the game became a lot closer than expected.
At least, that was true for the first half. After the break, the Dolphins looked more like the Weeks 1 and 2 team, and the Cowboys took it to them. Miami could do nothing on offense and could not stop the Cowboys on defense.
Dolphins 6 - Cowboys 31
First Half Recap
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 to 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.
10-6 at half time.
First Half Reactions
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?
Second Half Recap
The Cowboys started with the ball in the second half. Pollard picked up one yard on the first play, then Prescott appeared to connect with Cobb for a 74-yard touchdown, but offsetting penalties negated the play. Prescott then connected with Smith for 33 yards, then Cobb for 20 yards. After an Elliott run for two yards, Prescott found Cooper, who again beat Howard, for a 19-yard touchdown. Dallas extended the lead to 17-6.
Rosen scrambled for six yards to start the drive, then found Parker for five yards. Ballage then picked up five yards before a Daniel Kilgore false start penalty moved Miami back five yards. Ballage then lost two yards before former Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn, making his debut with the Cowboys, sacked Rosen and forced a punt.
Prescott started the next drive with an eight-yard pass to Witten, then Elliott picked up 18 yards, only to have it called back for a holding penalty. On 2nd-and-12, Prescott found Witten again, who tip-toed the sideline to pick up 13 yards. Prescott then found Elliott for two yards, then Pollard picked up 12 yards and two yards. Prescott went back to the air, finding Elliott or 12 yards, then Cooper for 18 yards. After an 11-yard Elliott run, Prescott rolled out and found a seam up the middle for the eight-yard touchdown run. Dallas pushed the lead to 24-6.
Miami accomplished nothing on the next drive, with Rosen incomplete on first down, then finding Grant for six yards on second down. On the 3rd-and-4 play, Rosen was forced to run up the middle, picking up two yards. The Dolphins punted.
Dallas matched the three-and-out as the third quarter ended, with Pollard picking up two yards, then former Dallas defensive end Taco Charlton getting to sack Prescott. After a pass to Pollard for 12 yards, the Cowboys were five yards short and punted.
Miami appeared to have another three-and-out, only to have a roughing the kicker penalty give them an additional set of downs. The first two passes after the penalty were knocked down at the line of scrimmage, setting up a 3rd-and-10. Rosen looked deep for Parker on the play, putting up a jump ball, but Parker did not have a chance to come down with it and the Dolphins were forced to punt again.
Elliott picked up 18 yards to start the next drive, then another six. Prescott found Cobb for three yards on 2nd-and-4, setting up a 3rd-and-1, with Elliott picking up two yards on the option pitch. Pollard then picked up six yards, then followed that with a 28-yard gain. Elliott picked up nothing on the next play, then Prescott threw an incomplete pass to Jarwin, with an unnecessary roughness penalty backing up Dallas 15 yards. After an incomplete pass on third down, Dallas missed the field goal.
Miami picked up four yards on a Grant run on first down, then two incomplete passes led to a 4th-and-6 attempt. Rosen found Williams for eight yards, converting on the last possible attempt of the set of downs. Rosen was then sacked on first down, then Drake picked up eight yards on 2nd-and-13. On 3rd-and-5, Rosen was incomplete looking for Drake. On the 4th-and-5 attempt, Rosen found Mike Gesicki, but it was stopped for no gain and a turnover on downs.
The Cowboys ran the ball straight at Miami, with Pollard picking up 40 yards on six carries, including a 16-yard touchdown to end the drive. Dallas pulled out to a 31-6 lead.
Miami looked to move the ball quickly on the next drive, but nothing came of it. Rosen threw incomplete on first down, then ten yards to Ballage on second down. Drake picked up six yards on the next first down, then Rosen found Parker for 11 yards. After the two-minute warning, Ballage picked up three yards, then found Gesicki for five yards. After an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-2, Miami looked to convert on fourth down. Drake picked up just one yard on the play, and the Dolphins turned over the ball on downs.
Dallas knelt to kill the clock and the game finished with a 31-6 score.
Immediate game reactions
The second half looked more like the Dolphins from the first two games. They could not stop the run, and Elliott took advantage. Dallas rushed for over 200 yards on the Dolphins, and there was simply no answer from Miami.
Eventually the frustration took over, though Howard’s ejection should not have been called that way. The Dolphins just could not do anything on defense or on offense in the second half, and the Cowboys sealed the game early in the period.
Rosen looked better than Fitzpatrick did in the first two games, but again, it was not enough for the Dolphins to stay competitive for the entire 60 minutes. He finished the game 18-for-39 for 200 yards with three sacks and a 61.9 passer rating. The offense, which had 216 yards in the first half, finished with 283 total yards - exemplifying the futility of Miami’s offense in the second half.
On to the Los Angeles Chargers next week.