The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers are mid-way through their Week 4 contest. The Dolphins are hanging with the Chargers so far, with two missed field goals allowing Los Angeles to go to the halftime break with a seven-point lead.
Here is the recap of all the first half action and immediate reactions to the game thus far:
Chargers 17 - Dolphins 10
First Half Recap
The Chargers received the opening kickoff, and quickly looked like they were going to take it to the Dolphins. Austin Ekeler picked up three yards on first down, then Philip Rivers connected with Lance Kendricks for 24 yards. Troymaine Pope picked up eight yards as the Chargers come out with two running backs on their opening drive not named Melvin Gordon. Rivers then connected with Dontrelle Inman on a 13 yard pass before a Wildcat play had Tyrod Taylor pick up two yards, but a holding penalty backed up the Chargers. Rivers then found Ekeler for eight yards, then Geremy Davis for six more. After an incomplete pass caused by a great pass breakup by Reshad Jones, the Chargers were called for a delay of game. They settled for a 44-yard field goal. Chargers 3-0.
Something then happened on the Dolphins’ first drive. Kenyan Drake picked up seven yards on the first play, then added 19 more on the second, only to have that one called back for an illegal formation penalty. Kalen Ballage then picked up six yards, with Rosen looking deep to Mike Gesicki on 3rd-and-2, with the tight end tipping the ball and it somehow falling to Preston Williams for a 25-yard gain. Williams then attempted a double pass play, but no one was open and he ran, coming up a yard short of the line of scrimmage. Rosen then connected with Nick O’Leary for nine yards before a beautiful lob pass to DeVante Parker resulted in a 34-yard touchdown and Miami’s first lead of the season. Miami 7-3.
Touchdown Rosen to Parker!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) September 29, 2019
I hope we get to say that many many more times.
The Chargers came back down the field the next possession, with Rivers finding Allen for five yards, then finding Derek Watt for 21 yards, with Eric Rowe then penalized for lowering his helmet to initiate contact, a 15-yard penalty. Ekeler picked up one yard, then five yard, then Rivers found Kencricks for 13 yards. Pope picked up two yards before Rivers found him for a 13-yard touchdown. Chargers 10-7.
Miami came right back on their next possession, starting with two Drake runs for three and five yards. Then Rosen found Grant for three yards, but the Dolphins accepted a five-yard illegal contact penalty. Rosen then found Drake for 19 yards, followed by Drake for four yards. After the end of the first quarter, Miami saw Drake pick up five yards, then 10 yards. Ballage then picked up 10 yards, but a holding penalty backed them up two yards instead. Rosen found Williams short, who turned it into a 12-yard gain. Miami hurried on the next play in order to ensure no replay on a close reception from Williams (it was caught, but they went fast to ensure they did not take the chance), Gesicki caught a quick pass for no gain, but Miami caught the Chargers with 12 men on the field and a man offsides, gaining five yards on the penalty. Rosen then was incomplete to Williams, but defensive pass interference was called and the Dolphins got a free first down. Jakeem Grant took a handoff on the next play, but lost two yards. Two incomplete passes, including a horrible drop from Ballage, and the Dolphins settled for the 30-yard field goal. Tied 10-10.
The Chargers picked up four yards on first down, only to have an unnecessary roughness penalty on Christian Wilkins give them an extra 15 yards after the rookie defensive lineman suplex Ekeler on the tackle. Rivers and center Mike Pouncey messed up the exchange on the next play, but the Chargers were able to recover. Rivers then found Allen for five yards before a 12-yard pass to Inman was ruled a catch, despite clearly hitting the ground; Miami challenged and the call was overturned. Rivers then found Ekeler for seven yards, then Ekeler lost one yard on the next play. Rivers found Allen for 16 yards before he broke out on a 69-yard catch and run for a touchdown - a play that was then called back after Allen ran his shoulder through Xavien Howard for the offensive pass interference call Rivers threw deep on 1st-and-20, picking up 19-yards, but penalties on the next play and the fourth-down attempt ultimately led to a Miami ball with a turnover on downs.
Miami, starting with the ball at the Chargers’ 48-yard line, appeared set to take the lead again. Mark Walton entered the game at running back, picking up three yards, then catching a Rosen pass for four yards. Rosen then found Isaiah Ford, promoted from the practice squad this week, for seven yards before another two yards from Walton. Two incomplete passes toward Williams, including a drop, led to a 50-yard field goal attempt from Jason Sanders, but it was pushed wide right.
Los Angeles picked up eight yards on the 1st-and-10 from the Chargers’ 40-yard line, then one yard on 2nd-and-2. On 3rd-and-1, Ekeler picked up four yards, leading to the 2-minute warning. Rivers found Ekeler for 13 yards on the first play after the break, then he found Pope for one yard. After an incomplete pass, Rivers found Patton for 15 yards, then found Ekeler for 18-yards and the score. Chargers 17-10.
First Half Reactions
Kalen Ballage’s drop problems are getting ridiculous. He may have been able to score on the drop leading to the field goal. Miami may have to start looking at Mark Walton and Patrick Laird in passing situations because Ballage cannot be replied upon to routinely catch the ball. Ballage is not the only player with drop issues - Preston Williams is not immune to them - but he has to clean it up quickly.
What did Matt Haack do to deserve to be benched for the first two drives this week?
Kenyan Drake came to play this week. He has been a beast early in this game. He has 27 yards on five carries and two receptions for 26 yards so far in the contest.
The offensive line has played well this first half. The sack on Rosen was on him, he stepped up into the pass rush. For unit that is continually moving around and plugging in new players, they have been good today.
Raekwon McMillan has been stout today. He has four tackles, tied with Jerome Baker and Reshad Jones for the team lead, and he has been plugging up the running lanes.