The Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas met in a primetime Saturday night contest with all kinds of AFC playoff implications on the line. Miami started the game flat on both offense and defense, while the Raiders continued to press throughout the game. Yet, in the end, Miami pulled out a miracle to come away with the last second win.
Dolphins 26 - Raiders 25
First half recap
The Raiders received the opening kickoff after Miami won the toss and deferred to the second half. Derek Carr started at quarterback for the Raiders, despite a groin injury sustained last week that appeared severe enough to cause him to miss this week. Instead, he was out there for the opening snap, and handed the ball to Josh Jacobs for a three-yard gain. Carr looked short on second down, with Hunter Renfrow catching the pass, but losing a yard. Carr then looked deep but overthrew the pass and Las Vegas was forced to punt on the three-and-out possession.
The Dolphins started with the ball at their own 22-yard line as Jakeem Grant chased down the ball after it bounced past him and turned it into a seven-yard return. Tua Tagovailoa dropped back to throw on first down, but only picked up one yard when he was flushed from the pocket and had to shovel pass the ball to tight end Durham Smythe. Miami ran to the left, a play that crushed the New England Patriots last week, with Salvon Ahmed, getting the start at running back over the returning Myles Gaskin, only to lose four yards. Tagovailoa was then flushed from the pocket on 3rd-and-13, picking up five yards on the scramble. Miami matched the Raiders with a three-and-out.
Las Vegas picked up their first first down of the game on their first play of the drive, with Carr finding a sliding Nelson Agholor, who popped up and gained a couple more for a 16-yard play. After an incomplete pass, Carr threw a bubble screen to Renfrow, who picked up 11 yards. Carr looked deep for tight end Jason Witten on 1st-and-10 from the Miami 16, but the pass fell incomplete. Jacobs then ran the ball to the Dolphins three-yard line, picking up 13 yards and setting up 1st-and-Goal. After a two-yard run from Jacobs, Carr kept the ball and lept up for the one-yard touchdown. Raiders 7-0.
After a touchback, Miami went back to Ahmed for a left-end run, only to have it stuffed; Ahmed was able to bounce the ball back to the right and get to the line of scrimmage, but the Raiders are showing early they will not let the run beat them this week. Tagovailoa picked up one yard on a pass to Ahmed, then added 13 yards on a dart to Grant. Gaskin, returning after a length stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list, took his first carry for 14 yards, then picked up eight yards, and appeared to have another three on a third-straight carry, but a hold by right tackle Robert Hunt brought the ball back to set up Miami with a 2nd-and-12. Tagovailoa then threw to Grant for what appeared to be a catch-and-run for a first down, but Grant bobbled the pass and was tackled after just five yards. On 4th-and-2, Tagovailoa scrambled for a seven-yard gain, then an additional five yards was added due to a hold on the Raiders. Tagovailoa threw a pass to the flat to Lynn Bowden, Jr., who broke a tackle and the line of scrimmage and moved upfield for a six-yard gain. Ahmed then picked up three yards before losing a yard and setting up Jason Sanders for a 37-yard field goal. Raiders 7-3.
The Raiders came out with a run by Henry Ruggs for seven yards, then Carr found Devontae Booker for four yards. Carr then went to Waller for a 29-yard catch as he went over safety Eric Rowe for the catch, ending the first quarter. Booker picked up no yards on a rush attempt before a two-yard pass from Carr to Witten. Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel and Nik Needham were able to get to Carr on 3rd-and-8, sacking the quarterback and forcing the Raiders out of field goal range. Las Vegas punted.
Miami did little more than nothing with the ball. Tagovailoa threw to Bowden for two yards, then Adam Shaheen for three yards, before an incomplete pass forced the punt.
Carr started the drive with a 19-yard pass to Nelso Agholor, then Jacobs added 10 yards on a run off the left side of the offense. After an incomplete pass, Carr was sacked again as Van Ginkel somehow racked up his second sack of the night. Sitting at 3rd-and-19, the Raiders when with a simple run, only to have Jalen Richard pick up 18 yards and give the raiders a chance to convert a 4th-and-1 with a one-yard run from Booker. Booked then picked up another three yards on 1st-and-Goal, but two incomplete passes from Carr led to a 23-yard field goal from Daniel Carlson. Raiders 10-3.
Tagovailoa started the drive throwing a floating pass downfield that was nearly picked off if tight end Mike Gesicki had not turned into a defensive back to break up the pass. Gaskin picked up eight yards on a rush, then Miami went to the Wildcat with Bowden taking the snap and running for eight yards. Tagovailoa threw an incomplete pass, then a five-yarder to Durham Smythe and a four-yarder to Gaskin. Miami set up to punt, but a direct snap to Clayton Fejedelem turned into a 22-yard gain, and Miami was set up with a 1st-and-10 at the Las Vegas 28 yard-line. Gaskin then picked up nine yards before a one-yard loss. On 3rd-and-2, Ahmed ran left only to have the Raiders bust through the line and come around the edge on the blitz, leading to a one-yard loss. Miami settled for another Sanders field goal. Raiders 10-6.
Carr started the drive with a 12-yard pass to Renfrow, then was gifted five yards and a first down when Needham was called for holding on an incomplete pass. Carr then threw a 19-yard pass to Waller, before another pass to Renfrow, picking up nine yards. Carr to Waller worked again for nine yards before Carr spiked the ball. Richard then picked up a yard, with the Raiders then calling timeout. On 3rd-and-9 from the Miami 20, Carr threw incomplete. Las Vegas settled for another field goal, extending the lead to 13-6.
Tagovailoa knelt after the kickoff to take the game to halftime.
First half immediate reactions
You do not usually see the Dolphins special teams with two mistakes that quickly. First for Grant to not catch the punt - not sure if he just did not pick up the ball in the dome or what - then to allow a 32-yard return on the next punt. Special teams needs to tighten up quickly.
Grant is going to cause heart attacks. He has so much speed and can cut like made, but he just struggles to make a clean catch. Always.
The defense is struggling to slow the Raiders. The offense is struggling to find any acceleration. And special teams is making mistakes. What a crappy start to a primetime game.
Special teams makes a play! Fejedelem’s face is actually a fake punt that got to stand. Miami has run a fake three straight weeks now, only to have the previous two called back for a player not reporting as eligible.
Miami has to make some serious adjustments at halftime if they are going to snap out of whatever funk in which they are stuck. Can they make adjustments like they did last week against the Patriots?
Second half recap
The Dolphins received the second-half kickoff. Miami began the drive with a Tagovailoa pass to Gaskin for five yards, then the running back broke a run for 24 yards. Tagovailoa then threw two passes to Grant, gaining six yards and 14 yards on the plays. After Gaskin picked up one yard, Tagovailoa went back to Grant on a toss for five yards, with Grant injured at the end of the play. Tagovailoa then threw to Isaiah Ford for an eight-yard gain, converting the 3rd-and-4 play for a first down. Gaskin picked up two yards on the 1st-and-10 play from the Las Vegas 12-yard line. Tagovailoa then threw a screen pass to Gaskin, who turned upfield, ran through some tackle attempts, and scored. Tied 13-13.
The Raiders offense came out initially looking like the offense from the first half, starting with a pass for 13 yards from Carr to Agholor. Jacobs then picked up eight yards. Miami’s defense shut it down after that, however, as they stopped Jacobs for no gain, then forced an incomplete pass on what looked like a screen play that Miami’s defense perfectly covered. On 4th-and-1, Jacobs was stopped by Zach Sieler on a run up the middle, losing one yard and giving the Dolphins the ball.
Tagovailoa started the drive with a low pass toward Mack Hollins, but the receiver could not make the catch. Gaskin carried for one yard on second down. As Tagovailoa dropped back on third down, the blitz overpowered Miami’s offensive line and forced a three-and-out punt with the sack.
Carr had time on first down to work through his progressions, eventually finding Agholor for 22 yards. Carr then swung a pass to Bryan Edwards in the flat, who turned upfield and ran for 11 yards. Carr then rolled out and found Witten, who ran through a tackle for a 10-yard gain. Booker took the hand off on 1st-and-Goal from the six and was met at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Jerome Baker for no gain; linebacker Elandon Roberts was injured on the play, seeming to grab his knee as he hit the ground. Carr threw incomplete on 2nd-and-Goal, then connected with Renfrow, but Needham made the tackle at the two-yard line to force a field goal. Raiders 16-13.
Gaskin cut back across the flow of traffic on first down to pick up seven yards on the drive’s first play. A twist on the defensive line allowed a free rusher right in the face of Tagovailoa on the second-down play, leading to an eight-yard loss on the sack. Tagovailoa then was pushed from the pocket, looked down the field to Ford, with Dallin Leavitt diving in front and nearly picking off the pass. Miami punted on the three-and-out.
Las Vegas started with a run up the middle from Booker, picking up three yards. Carr then looked again toward Waller, who, despite having Eric Rowe in his face, came down with his fifth catch of the game, picking up 22 yards. After the change of fields as the fourth quarter started, Cadd found Booker for four yards, then Booker added three yards on a run. Carr was then incomplete on a pass as Xavien Howard broke up the play, and nearly came away with the interception. The Raiders punted.
Miami continued to struggle, however, as they started with a one-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Gesicki. Tagovailoa then looked to scramble, but ran straight into Johnathan Hankins for a nine-yard sack. Gaskin was able to pick up eight yards on 3rd-and-18, but Miami had to punt on the three-and-out.
The Raiders would match Miami’s drive, with Jacobs picking up two yards, then an incomplete pass to start the possession. Carr was then sacked on third down by Jerome Baker for a four-yard loss. Las Vegas punted.
The Dolphins pulled Tagovailoa and brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick to try to find a spark and save the game for the Dolphins. Fitzpatrick started the possession with a four-yard pass to Gaskin, then Gaskin added two yards on the ground. On 3rd-and-4, Fitzpatrick picked up 13 yards on a pass to Ford. Fitzpatrick then found Mack Hollins for eight yards. Gaskin picked up another four yards before Fitzpatrick looked deep to Gesicki, but the pass fell incomplete. Ahmed then picked up five yards to set up 3rd-and-5. Fitzpatrick connected with Gesicki on a slant, picking up 17 yards and the first down. He came right back to Gesicki on the next play, picking up 31 yards and setting up 1st-and-Goal at the Raiders’ four-yard line. Gaskin gained no yardage on a carry, then Fitzpatrick looked to Hollins at the goal line, but the receiver could not bring it in. Fitzpatrick then went back to Gesicki on a slant across the middle of the endzone, but forced the throw too early and the tight end could not make the play. Miami settled for a field goal to tie the game. Tied 16-16.
Las Vegas needed one play to retake the lead, with a two-yard run from Jacobs negated by an offensive holding penalty only to have Carr scramble around for what felt like an eternity, then find Agholor down the sideline and the receiver weave his way down the field for the 85-yard touchdown. The Raiders missed the extra point. Raiders 22-16.
Fitzpatrick looked to Ford for a seven-yard gain on the first play of the drive, then came back to him for a nine-yard yard gain. Fitzpatrick then threw to Gaskin in the flat, only to have the running back turn the short pass into a 59-yard touchdown. Dolphins 23-22.
Carr started the drive with a four-yard pass to Richard. A completely horrible pass interference penalty was called on Byron Jones, despite the cornerback leaping to make a play on the ball. The referees, who ignored Agholor pushing off on the 85-yard touchdown, simply decided the game with the flag on what should have been no call. Then Jacobs picked up seven yards, leading to the 2-minute warning. Jacobs then picked up two yards. Kyle Van Noy was then called for a neutral zone infraction when he reacted to “motion” from the fullback on a hard count. Jacobs ran two yards up the middle and fell down to force Miami to use their final time out. Jacobs then ran for another one yard before falling down to let the clock run. After a Las Vegas timeout, Carr knelt to run the clock some more, with the Raiders kicking a field goal with 19 seconds remaining. Raiders 25-23.
Miami, with no timeouts and not much time remaining, had to go 75 yards. On the first play, Fitzpatrick reached back and threw a rainbow to Hollins on the sideline for a 34-yard gain. Oh, and he did it like this:
With the 15-yard penalty on the facemask, Fitzpatrick threw one deep pass incomplete. Then Sanders does what Sanders does and convert the 44-yard field goal for the lead. Dolphins 26-25.
On the kickoff and lateral play, the Raiders would ultimately fumble with Fejedelem covering the loose ball.
Second half immediate reactions
There is the Dolphins offense! Nine plays, 75-yards, 4:29 for the touchdown. They have to keep it up, because that is not the same offense from the first half.
Losing Roberts is a huge blow to the defense. His knee just seemed to fail as he planted it.
Miami pulling Tua again is going to set off questions about if Miami should look to draft a quarterback next year and want to already pull the plug on the Tua era. He will be fine. Fitzpatrick will clearly throw passes Tagovailoa will not yet. Fitzpatrick sees the field differently than the rookie, and he plays like a veteran who knows where to put the ball and when I player is open. Tagovailoa is looking for wide open receivers and does not want to take chances. Fitzpatrick recognizes when a player has half a step and will thread it through to the receiver. Tagovailoa will learn that.
HOW THE? WHAT THE? I DON’T CARE!!!!! THAT’S A WIN!!!!!!!!