The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers have completed their Week 10 game, with the Dolphins holding on for the win at the end. It was a show down between the fifth- (Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa) and sixth-picks (Los Angeles’s Justin Herbert) in this year’s NFL Draft, and it lived up to being an entertaining game as both quarterbacks made plays.
First Half Recap
The Dolphins won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving Justin Herbert and the Chargers the ball first. Kalen Ballage took the first carry of the game, picking up three yards. Miami’s defense stepped up immediately, however, coming away with a Nik Needham sack for a 13-yard loss on the second-down play. After a screen pass picked up six yards, Miami forced the three-and-out punt, then had Andrew Van Ginkel block the kick, with Jamal Perry recovering the loose ball at the one-yard line.
Salvon Ahmed, in his first career start, carried the ball for the one-yard score on the next play. Dolphins 7-0.
The Chargers were able to move the ball on their second possession, starting with Herbert looking to Keenan Allen for 11 yards. Ballage then picked up two yards before Herbert scrambled for seven yards. Ballage then picked up another four yards. Herbert was able to find tight end Hunter Henry sitting in the vacant spot in the zone, picking up 17 yards. Joshua Kelley gained three yards, moving Los Angeles into Miami territory, with Ballage backing it up with a four-yard run to the Dolphins’ 45-yard line. The drive stalled there, however, as Herbert threw an incomplete pass and the Chargers punted.
Starting at their own 12-yard line, Miami’s offense looked to have the same results as their one-yard possession the previous drive. Ahmed picked up two yards on firs down, then Tua Tagovailoa rolled out, stopped himself on a throw, reset and found Mike Gesicki deep for a 23 yard gain. After a Solomon Kindley false start, Tagovailoa hit Jakeem Grant for a 13-yard gain, then Ahmed converted the first down on a three-yard run. Ahmed then picked up another 18 yards, with Tagovailoa hitting Grant for another 15 yards after an incomplete pass. Tagovailoa then scrambled for a yard before Malcolm Perry handed the Wildcat snap to Ahmed for eight yards. After an incomplete pass, Jason Sanders lined up for a field goal attempt, only to see the Chargers jump offsides, giving Miami a new set of downs. Tagovailoa took the next snap for a two-yard gain, then appeared to have a three-yard fade touchdown pass to DeVante Parker, who high pointed the ball and came down with a one-handed catch, but was never able to get a second foot in bounds. Tagovailoa came back on the next play and found Grant in the middle of the endzone for the touchdown. Dolphins 14-0.
Ballage lost two yards to start the drive for the Chargers, followed by an incomplete pass. On 3rd-and-12, Herbert threw to Jalen Guyton for a nine-yard gain on the crossing route, but the Chargers punted to complete the three-and-out.
The Dolphins took possession at their own 44-yard line after a return of 18 yards by Grant, a return that just missed being a touchdown return. An incomplete pass and an Ahmed run for no gain set up 3rd-and-10, with center Ted Karras snapping the ball on the next play into the ground. Tagovailoa picked up the loose ball and somehow found Parker for a 23-yard gain. The Tagovailoa-to-Parker connection gained Miami another eight yards on the next play. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa threw a shovel pass to tight end Durham Smythe to picked up seven yards. On another Wildcat play, Perry picked up six yards on a play that appeared to be destined to be a five-yard loss. Ahmed then gained three yards, only to have Karras snap the ball poorly again, this time leading to a Nick Vigil recovery and Tagovailoa chasing him down after a 44-yard return.
The Chargers started the drive with a seven-yard gain from Kelley. After another two yards gained by Kelley, Ballage picked up 10 yards, then another three yards. Herbert then threw to Guyton for five yards, followed by a one-yard run from Ballage. On 4th-and-1 from the Miami nine-yard line, Ballage picked up just enough for the first down. After a Miami timeout, Herbery picked up three yards on a scramble, moving the ball to the Miami five. Kelley then moved the ball to the Dolphins’ one. After Ballage was stopped for no gain, and a timeout from each team, Herbert scored on a quarterback sneak. Dolphins 14-7.
Miam’s next possession was disappointing, with three straight Ahmed runs gaining just nine yards. Miami punted for the three-and-out drive.
After the ball rolled to the Chargers’ four-yard line, Herbert started deep in his own territory with a throw to Ballage for five yards. He went back to Ballage for another five yards and a first down on the next play. After three-straight incomplete passes, the Chargers were called for a false start on their punt team, leading to a 4th-and-15 punt from their own nine-yard line.
Grant returned the kick 22 yards to the Chargers’ 47. Tagovailoa found Perry for a 13-yard gain. Running the hurry-up offense, Tagovailoa got the team to the line, then looked toward Parker but threw the ball away when the play was not there. Patrick Laird took the draw for two yards on 2nd-and-10, with Miami immediately calling their final timeout. After an incomplete pass, Miami settled for a 50-yard field goal from Sanders. Dolphins 17-7.
Herbert knelt on the ball after the kickoff to end the half.
First Half Reactions
This team is just ridiculous. Seriously. Opening possession for Los Angeles includes a sack, a forced three-and-out, and a punt block?
Tagovailoa looks sharp early in the game. He is decisive and he is able to make plays.
Karras has to figure out this snapping issue. As one of the two offensive linemen locked into the starting lineup, according to Brian Flores, he cannot be making mistakes like that. He seemed to be looking for a towel, and it is a humid day, so maybe it is a matter of him not gripping the ball right, but it cannot continue to happen.
The Dolphins clearly lost some momentum after the fumble. The energy around the team does not feel the same.
Miami scored to end the first half, then get the ball to start the second half. Even if it was just a field goal, it is effective.
Oh, and Jason Sanders is a ridiculous kicking machine.
Second Half Recap
Miami received the second-half kickoff, starting at their own 25 after the touchback. Tagovailoa looked for Parker on the first play, but the ball flew straight threw the receiver’s hands on a slightly overthrown ball. Ahmed ran for six yards, but a false start penalty on Parker backed Miami into a 3rd-and-9. Tagovailoa looked for Gesicki for the conversion, but the pass was broken up and Miami punted on the three-and-out.
Herbert connected with Allen, who had one catch in the first half, for 15 yards. Then Herbert was given plenty of time on the next play to eventually work his way to fullback Gabe Nabers for a nine-yard gain. Ballage then picked up three yards for a first down. The Chargers continued to use the ground game to attack Miami, with Kelley picking up eight yards, before a one-yard loss. After Herbert converted the first down with a pass to Mike Williams for 10 yards, they went back to Ballage for four-straight carries, gaining seven-, four-, seven-, and four-yards over the span. Herbert then rolled out and found a wide open Henry in the back of the endzone for the score. Dolphins 17-14.
Miami came out looking to recapture the momentum, starting with a 17-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Gesicki. Tagovailoa then looked to Perry for an eight-yard gain before Ahmed broke out an 18-yard run. After a false start on Ahmed, Miami picked up 19-yardson a pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Adam Shaheen that somehow found its way to Shaheen through a defender’s hands. Ahmed ran for no gain, then a one-yard gain on back-to-back plays before an incomplete pass in the endzone. Miami settled for the 35-yard field goal from Sanders. Dolphins 20-14.
Herbert continued to rely on Ballage on the next drive, starting with a nine-yard pass to the former Dolphins draft pick. Ballage then picked up four yards on the ground before catching a pass in the flat and running for a 16-yard gain. Kelley then lost two yards as Jason Strowbridge burst through the line, ending the third quarter. Emmanuel Ogbah got to Herbert on the first play of the fourth quarter, pulling the quarterback down for a sack. Herbert then looked for Williams on 3rd-and-12, with Xavien Howard jumping the route and picking off the pass.
Miami started with a pass from Tagovailoa to Grant for 12 yards, then Ahmed ran for 11 yards. Ahmed came back for a three-yard run before Tagovailoa threw a screen to the rookie running back for four yards. On 3rd-and-Goal from the two, Tagovailoa faked a run to the left, turned back to the right and threw to a wide open Durham Smythe for the score. Miami failed to convert the two-point attempt. Dolphins 26-14.
The Dolphins defense stood up again on the next Chargers’ drive, starting with standing up Ballage after a two-yard gain. Two incomplete passes, plus an unnecessary roughness penalty on Trae Turner, set up a 4th-and-17, with Los Angeles punting on the three-and-out.
Grant again broke off a good return, picking up 19 yards to give Miami the ball at the Chargers’ 38. Ahmed ran for five yards on first down and three yards on second down as Miami started milking the clock. On 3rd-and-2, Hollins ran a one-yard out and came up short on the play. Sanders came out for the 47-yard attempt, missing it wide right.
Herbert threw a screen on the first play, with Zach Sieler tracking Ballage down from behind for a two-yard loss. Herbet then connected with Henry for a seven-yard gain, then a four-yard gain. Herbert looked to Allen on 4th-and-1, but Ogbah deflected the pass at the line of scrimmage and Miami took over on downs.
The Dolphins looked to continue milking the clock on the drive, starting with a DeAndre Washington run for no gain, then for three yards. On 3rd-and-7, Patrick Laird picked up 17 yards to give Miami a first down. The Chargers used their first time out after Laird’s run. The Dolphins then turned back to Ahmed, who lost a yard on first down, but made the Chargers use their second time out. The Chargers strung Ahmed out heading to the sideline, so the rookie fell down in bounds to make the Chargers use their final timeout on a four-yard loss. After Ahmed lost one more yard on 3rd-and-14, Sanders started a new streak with a 49-yard field goal. Dolphins 29-14.
Ballage picked up 11 yards on first down, then Herbert threw to Guyton for four yards. Herbert then looked deep to Williams for a 28-yard gain before attempting a deep pass in the endzone for Guyton, with Howard breaking up the pass. Herbert came back and found Donald Parnham, Jr., for 13 yards. Then he attempted to find Allen in the endzone, with Byron Jones breaking up the pass. Herbert then overthrew a wide open Williams in the endzone. After a Miami timeout, Herbert is able to find Allen on a crossing route, with Howard knocking the ball out of the receiver’s hands a split second after Allen crossed the goal line. Dolphins 29-21.
Miami recovered the onside kick and knelt to kill the clock.
Second Half Reactions
The Dolphins still do not seem to have the energy with which they started the game. Just is not there.
Touchdown Chargers. Miami’s energy problems continue. They just are allowing the Chargers to dictate the game right now.
The field goal helps, but that drive from the Dolphins responding to Los Angeles’s touchdown did not feel like Miami found a way to gain control of the game again.
Ogbah with a sack and Howard with an interception on back-to-back plays! That is what the Dolphins needed to find their spark.
Okay, maybe the Dolphins did not catch fire, but they did score to push the lead out after the interception.
Sanders missed a field goal for the first time this year and after connecting on 22 straight dating back to last year. Sets the new Dolphins team record. Miami needed those points, though.
Somehow this is a 15-point lead for Miami and I am stressing every single play. It does not feel like Miami is up by two touchdowns. The good thing is, at least right now, the Cardinals are also leading over the Bills.
Good win, but man the team looked like they lost all their energy for a large portion of the game. Found a few sparks late in the contest to put it away. And, the Bills losing to the Cardinals means Miami can tie for the AFC East lead next week.