The Miami Dolphins went toe-to-toe with the defending Super Bowl champions on Sunday, and they looked like a team getting close to being a true contender in the league. While injuries were the story of the day for Miami, who started the game without their top three running backs, then saw their top two receivers, starting tight end, and starting right tackle leave the game, as well as a starting safety go in and out due to injuries, but they were still able to claw back into the game and make it close against the Kansas City Chiefs.
It may have been a loss, but the Dolphins proved they are for real on Sunday.
Chiefs 33 - Dolphins 27
First half recap
The Dolphins received the opening kickoff, starting at their own 25-yard line, the Dolphins were unable to do much with the ball. DeAndre Washington, starting at running back with Myles Gaskin, Matt Breida, and Salvon Ahmed all out for the game, picked up one yard in between two incomplete passes from Tua Tagovailoa. Miami just missed converting on third down when Tagovailoa hung in the pocket despite pressure and found Jakeem Grant over the middle, but Grant dropped the ball. Miami punted on the three-and-out.
After a 53-yard punt from Matt Haack, the Chiefs started at their own 20-yard line, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire picking up two yards on first down. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes then kept the ball for a six-yard run, followed by a scramble for three yards and the first down. Mahomes then threw to Edwards-Helaire in the flat, but Miami’s defense gang tackled the running back after just a one-yard gain. Mahomes then went back to Edward-Helaire, picking up 16 yards on a wheel route. Mahomes then found tight end Travis Kelce on a crossing route, picking up 17 yards. Running back Le’Veon Bell followed that up with a burst through the middle for 13 yards. After a four-yard gain from Bell was negated by an illegal shift penalty, Mahomes looked to Kelce on a screen pass, only to have Andrew Van Ginkel deflect the pass up in the air and Byron Jones come away with the interception.
Miami took over at their own 43-yard line after the turnover, continuing a streak of forcing a turnover in every game this year. Washington ran up the middle for seven yards before Tagovailoa found Adam Shaheen short, with the tight end turning it into a 16-yard gain. Miami tried to pull out a trick play on the next snap, with Lynn Bowden taking the end-around, then stopping to throw the ball, but the Chiefs stayed home and Bowden had to throw the ball away. Tagovailoa then scrambled for seven yards before an incomplete pass on third down forced a field goal attempt. Jason Sanders pushed the ball wide right on the attempt.
The opening snap for the Chiefs on the drive rolled back to Mahomes in the shotgun, with the quarterback able to dive on to it just before Van Ginkel was able to get there. Now facing a 2nd-and-19, Mahomes threw complete to Kelce for seven yards. On 3rd-and-12, Mahomes was chased backward by Emmanuel Ogbah and Jerome Baker, with Baker recording the sack for a 30-yard loss. Kansas City punted, with the ball landing out of bounds at the Chiefs’ 44-yard line, just shy of the line of gain for the first down.
The Dolphins started the drive with a one-yard run from Washington, followed by a two-yard loss. Tagovailoa then connected with tight end Mike Gesicki for a 14-yard gain. After Washington ran up the middle for six yards, Tagovailoa threw an incomplete pass before a short pass to Grant was turned into an 18-yard gain. On 1st-and-Goal from the Kansas City seven-yard line, Tagovailoa found Gesicki for the score. Dolphins 7-0.
The Chiefs came back, looking to respond. They started with a 37-yard catch and run from Mahomes to Sammy Watkins. On 1st-and-10 from the Miami 38, Mahomes looked short to Edwards-Helaire, but overthrew him and safety Eric Rowe came up with the interception.
A two-yard run from Washington took the clock down to the end of the first quarter. Tagovailoa threw to start the second period, picking up seven yards on the completion to Washington. A 16-yard gain to Gesicki was negated by an illegal man downfield penalty, with an incomplete pass following that play. On 2nd-and-15, Tagovailoa was able to connect with Mack Hollins for 10 yards, then Miami gained 14 yards on a short pass from Tagovailoa to Bowden. Miami went back to the Bowden pass attempt play, this time with the wide receiver looking back to Tagovailoa, but the quarterback was covered, so Bowden scrambled for two yards. Tagovailoa then added two more yards on a pass to Grant before an incomplete pass forced Miami to settle for the 31-yard field goal. Dolphins 10-0.
The Cheifs came out firing on the next drive, starting with a Mahomes pass to Kelce for 21 yards. Safety Bobby McCain was injured on the play, taken off the field to be evaluated for a concussion. Mahomes went back to Kelce on the second play, picking up nine yards. Demarcus Robinson added 13 yards on catch and run down the right side. Tyreek Hill got his first touch of the game on an end-around, tip-toeing down the sideline for a 32-yard score. Dolphins 10-7.
Miami picked up a first down on an unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit on wide receiver DeVante Parker. That was all Miami could do, however, as Washington picked up two yards on the first down, followed by a seven-yard loss when Tagovailoa was sacked by Mike Danna. Tagovailoa scrambled for two yards on the 3rd-and-15 play, leading to a Miami punt.
Kansas City started the possession with a run from Edwards-Helaire for no gain. Baker then was able to sack Mahomes again, this time for a five-yard loss. An incomplete pass from Mahomes led to a three-and-out punt.
Tagovailoa looked to Grant for a 12-yard gain to start the drive. Washington picked up three yards on the next play. Tagovailoa was pressured on 2nd-and-7, starting to scramble before trying to throw to Antonio Callaway, but the pass was incomplete. Tagovailoa then avoided the pressure again on 3rd-and-7, looking deep for Grant, but the ball bounced off Grant’s chest as he jumped for it, and Tyrann Mathieu came away with the interception - Tagovailoa’s first career pick.
Starting at their own 26-yard line, Kansas City threw incomplete on first down before Mahomes was able to find Kelce for 16 yards, with an additional 15 yards added on for a late hit on Mahome by Andrew Van Ginkel. Mahoes missed on a pass on 1st-and-10 from the Miami 43-yard line before a pass to Bell picked up nine yards. After the 2-minute warning, Bell picked up eight yards on the ground, then five yards on a pass from Mahomes. After a Chiefs timeout, Mahomes threw to Watkins for 15 yards. After a Miami timeout and an incomplete pass, Mahomes threw to Kelce for the touchdown on 2nd-and-Goal from the six. Chiefs 14-10.
The Dolphins looked to see if they could find a quick score before the half, starting with a pass to Bowden for 16 yards. After Miami’s second timeout, Tagovailoa threw to Hollins for nine yards, followed by Miami’s last timeout. Tagovailoa was sacked by Frank Clark on 2nd-and-1 from the 50, leading to the Dolphins just letting the clock expire.
First half immediate reactions
Miami is at least trying to go toe-to-toe with the Chiefs. The defense is playing well, forcing two interceptions in the first quarter and putting points on the board.
The Chiefs are starting to find a rhythm here in the second quarter. Miami needs to make an adjustment at halftime or else Mahomes will pick them apart the rest of the game.
Parker’s injury is worrisome. The Dolphins need him on the field, especially with Preston Williams, Myles Gaskin, Matt Breida, and Salon Ahmed already out of the contest.
Adding a wide receiver this offseason to serve as the third option seems to be a necessity. Grant provides a dynamic to the offense with his speed, but he does not catch the ball cleanly and Miami needs to get a true possession receiver to be that guy.
Second half recap
The Chiefs opened with the ball to start the half. Edward-Helaire caught a short pass in the flat from Mahomes on the opening play, then fought his way through tackles for a 26-yard gain. Safety Bobby McCain was injured on the play, favoring his right ankle after getting initial treatment on the field. He joins Parker and Grant on the sideline, with both received listed as questionable to return to the game with leg injuries. Edwards-Helaire picked up five yards on the next play. Mahomes then looked deep on the post route as Hill found space on his first reception of the game for a 44-yard touchdown, attacking Clayton Fejedelem who replaced McCain in the secondary. Chiefs 21-10.
Tagovailoa did not look comfortable on the Dolphins’ first possession of the half, throwing two incomplete passes into the ground after a five-yard run from Washington. Miami punted on 4th-and-50, with the Chiefs returning it 67 yards for the touchdown. Chiefs 28-10.
Miami continued to struggle on their next possession. Tagovailoa threw a screen pass into the ground when it did not develop on first down, then came back to find Durham Smythe for ten yards. An incomplete pass was then followed with a 10-yard pass to Washington. Washington came back with a two-yard run on the next play, then Smythe dropped a pass. Tagovailoa was forced to scramble, picking up three yards, on 3rd-and-8, leading to a punt.
Edward-Helaire carried the ball on the opening snap of the drive, picking up nine yards. He lost two yards on the next pay before Mahomes threw to Kelce who somehow turned a short pass into a gain of 28 yards. Edwards-Helaire then picked up another three yards. Mahomes threw to Mecole Hardman for 26 yards, but Byron Jones was able to punch the ball loose and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill was able to recover for the Dolphins.
Tagovailoa started the drive with a jet-sweep pop pass to Bowden, but it lost one yard. On 2nd-and-11, Tagovailoa was sacked in the endzone for the safety. Chiefs 30-10.
The Chiefs started the drive with a one-yard loss from Edwards-Helaire, then saw Mahomes pick up five yards on a pass to Hardman. Mahomes then threw incomplete looking deep for Hill. After a false start penalty, the Chiefs punted on the three-and-out.
Miami started the possession with a seven-yard run from Washington. Tagovailoa threw an incomplete pass before finding Bowden for 11 yards, then again for another 11 yards. Patrick Laird ran for a yard on 1st-and-10 from the Miami 47, before an incomplete pass from Tagovailoa. On 3rd-and-9, Tagovailoa was sacked for a second-yard loss, leading to a punt.
Mahomes threw incomplete to start the drive, with Edward-Helair taking the ball on a second-down handoff, picking up nine yards. Mahomes then threw deep to Kelce on a crossing route, picking up 32 yards. Edwards-Helaire picked up two yards on 1st-and-10 from the Chiefs’ 49. Mahomes threw incomplete before connecting with Hill for 13 yards at the end of the third quarter. Edwards-Helaire picked up 12 yards to start the fourth period, then Mahomes looked deep to the endzone for Hill, only to have Xavien Howard come away with the pick.
Miami moved to a no-huddle on the next drive, with Tagovailoa starting with an incomplete pass before finding Gesicki for 13 yards, Malcolm Perry for five yards, Hollins for 23 yards, and Shaheen for 10 yards. On 1st-and-10 from the Chiefs’ 29 yard line, Tagovailoa looked down the seam for Gesicki, who caught the 29-yard touchdown pass. Chiefs 30-17.
Edwards-Helaire picked up four yards as the Chiefs resumed their offensive attack, then Mahomes looked to the running back for a five-yard pass. After a false start penalty on the Chiefs, a 3rd-and-1 turned into a 3rd-and-6, with Jerome Baker and Christian Wilkins splitting a sack. The Chiefs punted on the three-and-out.
Starting at their own 25-yard line, Miami opened up with a two-yard pass to Gesicki, with the tight end injured on the play. Laird then took the handoff up the middle for nine yards. Tagovailoa three passes to Hollins for six yards, Bowden for nine yards, incomplete, and to Durham Smythe for nine yards on the next four plays, with Tagovailoa seeming to diagnose from where the Chiefs were blitzing to make the right hot read. After a Laird run for three yards, Tagovailoa threw an incomplete pass deep toward Malcolm Perry, who just could not high point the ball enough to score. Tagovailoa then looked to Hollins for 18 yards before a Laird run for five yards. Tagovailoa thew to Laird on the next snap, picking up four yards, before a scramble for two yards on 3rd-and-1. On 1st-and-Goal at the Chiefs eight-yard line, Tagovailos threw to Laird for four yards, but a defensive offside penalty gave Miami a first down. On 1st-and-Goal from the four, Tagovailoa threw a fade toward Shaheen, with defensive pass interference giving Miami a 1st-and-Goal from the one-yard line. Washington ran for a one-yard loss, then Tagovailoa looked to Shaheen again, with another pass interference penalty giving the Dolphins another first down. Tagovailoa then keep the ball on the quarterback sneak, scoring to bring Miami to within striking distance of the Chiefs’ lead. Chiefs 30-24.
Kansas City looked to eat clock on their possession, getting the ball back with 4:15 remaining. Edwards-Helaire ran for no gain on the first play, then a short pass from Mahomes to Edwards-Helaire picked up 11 yards, plus a facemask penalty on Howard for another 15 yards. Edwards-Helaire then picked up no yards, but forced Miami to use their second timeout of the half. Mahomes threw to Hardman for nine yards, with the Dolphins using their final timeout. Edwards-Helaire picked up no gain again on 3rd-and-1, with the Chiefs calling timeout to decide if they wanted to go for it on fourth down. Mahomes threw a screen to Hill on the 4th-and-1, picking up 22 yards. Edwards-Helaire was stopped by Zach Sieler for an eight-yard loss, with an illegal shift penalty declined on the play but stopping the clock. Mahomes then scrambled for one yard before the Chiefs kicked a field goal. Chiefs 33-24.
Miami moved quickly with Tagovailoa picking up nine yards on first down on a scramble. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa looked deep toward Hollins, with a defensive pass interference penalty called. Tagovailoa then looked deep again to Bowden for 22 yards before spiking the ball. Sanders hit a 44-yard field goal, pulling Miami to within six. Chiefs 33-27.
After an unsuccessful onside kick attempt by Miami, the Chiefs knelt on the ball to kill the clock.
Second half reactions
Miami cannot find a rhythm on offense of defense right now. The Chiefs are looking like the defending Super Bowl champions and a team tied for the best record in the league.
Now Austin Jackson is shaken up. The injury bug has pulled up to the Dolphins buffet right now.
Wow Miami woke up in the fourth quarter.
This game was impressive, even as the Dolphins struggled to find a rhythm at times and had to deal with player after player leaving the game with injury. Tagovailoa looked like he was growing in the game, making adjustments and starting to identify pressure and hot routes better.
Congratulations to Tagovailoa for his first three-hundred yard passing game.