The Miami Dolphins saw their five-game winning streak get snapped on Sunday as they had no answer for the Denver Broncos in the trenches. On both sides of the ball, Miami was out played along the line of scrimmage, with the Broncos able to pull offensive linemen as lead blockers all game, while the defense constantly harassed Miami quarterbacks throughout the afternoon.
Miami ultimately pulled Tua Tagovailoa for Ryan Fitzpatrick after the rookie was sacked for the sixth time on the day, a play that may have aggravated the foot injury that landed him on the injury report all week. Fitzpatrick attempted to get the Dolphins back into the game, but it was too little too late.
Dolphins 13 - Broncos 20
First Half Recap
The Dolphins received the opening kick after the Broncos deferred their decision to the second half. Tua Tagovailoa opened the game with a deep shot toward Jakeem Grant, but he overthrew the pass. After a Salvon Ahmed run for four yards, Tagovailoa again overthrew Grant on a deep pass attempt, and Miami punted to complete a three-and-out start to the game.
Phillip Lindsay started the opening drive from the Broncos with a run up the middle, only to have Raekwon Davis blow it up at the line of scrimmage. After an incomplete pass, Drew Lock was flushed out of the pocket on 3rd-and-10 and targeted Tim Patrick, only to have Xavien Howard come away with the interception, returning the ball 10 yards to the Broncos’ 22-yard line.
Miami started the possession with Ahmed picking up four yards. Tagovailoa then threw a short pass toward Grant, only to have Justin Simmons pick it off. The interception was negated, however, as a holding penalty on the defense was called, giving Miami a 1st-and-10 from the 13-yard line. Ahmed then picked up seven yards, then two yards, then one yard to set up 1st-and-Goal from the Denver three. Tagovailoa then threw a perfect fade to Parker, who caught the pass on the sideline, toe-tapping to make sure the score counted. Dolphins 7-0.
Melvin Gordon picked up one yard on the first play of the drive, but Lock followed it up with two incomplete passes, including one toward Jerry Jeudy that Nik Needham broke up perfectly. Denver punted on the three-and-out drive.
Matt Breida, who missed the last two games for Miami, picked up four yards to start the Dolphins’ possession. Tagovailoa threw an incomplete pass on second down, then was sacked at the line of scrimmage on third down, leading to a punt.
Lock started Denver’s possession with two incomplete passes but found KJ Hamler for 15 yards to convert on 3rd-and-10. After a two-yard pass from Lock to Noah Fant, Lindsay was able to break a 20-yard run. Two false start penalties backed Denver into a 1st-and-20, then a two-yard loss from Lindsay made it 2nd-and-22. Lock found Jeudy for nine yards, then scrambled for 14 yards to convert for the first down. Gordon then picked up nine yards on the ground before Lock threw to Nick Vanett for 15 yards, moving the ball to the Miami one-yard line. Gordon finished the drive with a one-yard score. Tied 7-7.
Miami did nothing with the ball on their next drive. Tagovailoa threw incomplete on first down, then was sacked on second down. On 3rd-and-18, Tagovailoa threw a pass in the flat to Ahmed, who picked up 12 yards before the Dolphins were forced to punt.
The Broncos started with a run from Lindsay, picking up two yards, as the first quarter ended. Lindsay then picked up three yards before a pass to Hamler, with Jerome Baker pulling him down just one-yard shy of the conversion. Denver punted.
Miami’s offense went nowhere on their drive, starting with a three-yard run from Ahmed that was followed by a three-yard loss from Ahmed. A Tagovailoa overthrow on 3rd-and-10 led to a Dolphins punt.
The Broncos wasted no time in moving down the field, starting with a 41-yard catch and run from Patrick. Fant then picked up nine yards on a pass from Lock. After a two-yard loss by Gordon and an incomplete pass from Lock on a play where Kyle Van Noy blitzed, hitting Lock as he reached the end of his drop, Denver settled for a field goal. Denver 10-7.
Miami finally moved the ball, ending a streak of three-and-out possessions, starting with a Tagovailoa pass to Mike Gesicki for eight yards. Ahmed then picked up three yards, converting a first down. Tagovailoa then threw short to Gesicki for four yards, followed by Ahmed for two yards. The pass-then-run trend continued, with Tagovailoa throwing to Parker for nine yards, then Ahmed picked up 14 yards. Tagovailoa then threw to Malcolm Perry for three yards, followed by an Ahmed run for two yards. Tagovailoa came back for a six-yard pass to Parker on 3rd-and-5, keeping the drive alive and moving to the Denver 24-yard line. Tagovailoa then connected with Grant for 10 yards, reaching the Broncos’ 14-yard line and giving the team a new set of downs. The drive stalled there, however, as Tagovailoa just missed Durham Smythe on the sideline, with the tight end catching the ball just out of bounds, then Tagovailoa was forced to throw the ball at Ahmed’s feet as the Broncos perfectly blitzed on a screen pass attempt. On 3rd-and-10, Tagovailoa held the ball too long as the pressure got to him, leading to a nine-yard loss on the sack. Jason Sanders converted the field goal. Tied 10-10.
Denver picked up five yards on a Lindsay run on first down, with the clock reaching the 2-minute warning. Gordon then picked up 25 yards on a right tackle run. After two incomplete passes with beautiful pass breakups from Needham and Howard, Lock was able to find Jeudy on a crossing route, picking up 22 yards. After another incomplete pass, Lock threw a bubble screen to Patrick, with Byron Jones making a great tackle keeping it a one-yard gain. Gordon then picked up seven yards before Denver connected on the field goal to end the half. Denver 13-10.
First Half Reactions
Why would you ever throw anywhere near X? Seriously. The competition committee may have to change the rules to just outlaw throwing passes in his direction. It is just not fair at this point.
That catch from Parker was just pretty. Tagovailoa put the fade into the corner of the endzone and Parker double tapped his toes to make sure it was a good catch.
The Broncos ran it straight down Miami’s throat on the touchdown drive. The run-defense has to step up quickly to change that.
Miami’s offense seems to be waking up. After four three-and-out drives in the first five possessions to start the game, they finally put together some first downs. They only get a field goal, but at least they finally moved the ball.
Miami’s defense is not creating pressure at all, let alone at the success rate they were having the last few weeks. They have to start causing some confusion if they are going to slow down the Broncos.
Second Half Recap
Denver received the opening kick of the second half. The Dolphins defense did not come out of the locker room right away, allowing the Broncos to start taking chunks of yardage at will. Lindsay picked up five yards on first down, then picked up 18 yards on the second play. Gordon backed that up with three yards before Lock threw to Fant for 15 yards. Gordon then picked up two yards, making it 2nd-and-8 at the Dolphins’ 32-yard line. Lindsay added another three yards before Lock threw an incomplete pass. Lock then completed a pass to Jeudy for six-yards, setting up 4th-and-1. Gordon attempted to convert, but the Dolphins defense stood up on the play and shut down Gordon.
Miami continued to be in love with the three-and-out option in this game, starting with a Breida run for no gain, then a sack of Tagovailoa for a five-yard loss. Tagovailoa then threw a low pass to Patrick Laird for eight yards, leading to the punt.
Lock threw to Patrick for nine yards on the opening play of the possession. Gordon lost a yard on second down, leading to a 3rd-and-2. Lock simply threw a crossing route pass to Hamler for 16 yards to convert for the first down. Gordon picked up nine yards on first down, with Lindsay then adding four yards to move into Miami territory and pick up a first down. After an incomplete pass, Lindsay picked up two yards. An incomplete pass was then negated as Miami was called for both defensive pass interference, which was declined, and roughing the passer, which was accepted, setting up a 1st-and-10 from the Miami 27-yard line. After a Lock to Patrick pass for seven yards, Gordon broke into the open field for the 20-yard touchdown run. Denver 20-10.
The Dolphins finally broke out of the three-and-out streak, thanks to a 3rd-and-10, 13-yard catch from Antonio Callaway to negate two incomplete passes at the start of the possession. Ahmed ten picked up four yards, then Grant ran a jet sweep for three yards. Tagovailoa looked deep toward Parker, who one-handed the catch but came down out of bounds; defensive pass interference gave Miami a first-down on the play anyway. Tagovailoa then ran for ten yards, only to have a holding penalty on Austin Jackson negate the play as the third quarter ended. Tagovailoa was flushed out of the pocket on 1st-and-20 to start the final period, then ran himself out of bounds for the two-yard sack. Tagovailoa threw to Ahmed on the next play, picking up six yards. On 3rd-and-16, Gesicki took off early and backed Miami up five more yards. On the 3rd-and-21 attempt, the Broncos burst through the line and sacked Tagovailoa for the sixth time on the day and forced a Miami punt.
Denver decided to try the three-and-out thing on their possession, with Lock finding Hamler for no yards on first down, followed by a one-yard Lindsay run, then a four-yard Gordon run.
Miami replaced Tagovailoa on the next drive, putting Ryan Fitzpatrick into the game. He immediately came in throwing, finding Parker for seven yards, then Ahmed for no gain, then Gesicki for 25 yards. Fitzpatrick continued to throw the ball, finding Ahmed for 11 yards before two incomplete passes brought up 3rd-and-10. Fitzpatrick was flushed and took off to try to run for the first down, only to have Bradley Chubb just manage to get a hand on the quarterback’s foot and trip him up after a one-yard gain. Sanders kicked the 53-yard field goal. Broncos 20-13.
The drive started with a 29-yard gain from the Broncos as Lock found Fant short and the right end ran down the sideline. Lock then ran for nine yards, followed by a Lindsay run for 20 yards. After Gordon was pushed back for a two-yard loss, it appeared Andrew Van Ginkel sacked Lock, but an unnecessary roughness penalty on Van Ginkel negated the play and set up a 1st-and-Goal from the nine-yard line for Denver. Gordon burst through the line on the next play, running clear for the endzone, only to have Van Ginkel come in and punch the ball loose, with Eric Rowe recovering the fumble at the Miami one-yard line.
Fitzpatrick threw incomplete on the first play, then found Parker for 15 yards. Fitzpatrick then ran for five yards, with Chubb called for unnecessary roughness to give Miami 15 free yards. After a one-yard pass to Ahmed, Fitzpatrick found Perry for eight yards. Fitzpatrick continued his hot streak, throwing to Gesicki across the middle for six yards. After an incomplete pass and a holding penalty on Miami, Fitzpatrick found Mack Hollins for nine yards, then dropped a dime into Parker for 21 yards and a Miami first down at the Denver 29-yard line. Fitzpatrick then connected with Perry for 12 yards as the click moved to the 2-minute warning. Fitzpatrick threw incomplete in the endzone on a play looking for Gesicki on first down, then a short pass to Grant for a two-yard gain, bringing up 3rd-and-8. Fitzpatrick went back to the endzone on the next play, looking for Parker up the seam, only to have Justin Simmons pick it off.
Lindsay gained nothing on first down, with Miami calling their second timeout of the half. Lindsay then picked up three yards, with Miami calling their final timeout. Lindsay lost two yards on third down, then the Broncos allowed the clock to run down on fourth down to eat as much time as possible. The offense then came out on fourth down to run around and kill the final four seconds of the game.
Second Half Reactions
Neither the offense nor the defense appears to be in this game. It is just bad. They do not seem to have a spark, and the Broncos are winning at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
The Broncos just spanked Miami all game. Other than the Howard interception early in the contest, everything went the Broncos’ way. Miami’s defense had no answer to the rushing attack for the Broncos, especially with pulling offensive linemen, while the Dolphins’ offensive line may or may not have even been on the field for most of the game.
Fitzpatrick brought a spark to the team. Not sure if it will be enough, given how bad the line of scrimmage has been for the Dolphins all game - both on offense and defense - but he at least picked up some first downs and got Miami to within a score.
Fitzpatrick moved the ball well, but it was just not enough to do anything meaningful for Miami on an ugly, frustrating day.