The Miami Dolphin hosted the New York Giants on Sunday as part of the NFL’s Week 13 schedule. Miami kept their winning streak alive in a game where they did not seem to be firing on all cylinders for most of the game, but put it together when needed.
The win moves Miami to 6-7 on the season, having won their last five games. The Dolphins now head into their ye week before hosting the New York Jets in Week 15. The Giants are 4-8 on the year and are seeing their hopes of a playoff berth slip away.
The recap and reactions are broken down by quarter. My immediate reactions are in italics.
Giants 9 - Dolphins 20
New York started with the ball and clearly looked to get running back Saquan Barkley established early in the game. The running back rushed for three yards on the first play, then again for three yards a few plays later, and caught a screen pass, but lost three yards on the play. Quarterback Mike Glennon, making his first start of the season in place of the injured Daniel Jones, went four-for-four on the possession, finding wide receiver Devontae Booker, wide receiver Pharoah Cooper, and tight end Kyle Rudolph, along with Barkley, for 22 yards. The drive stalled after just six plays, however, and the Giants punted.
There was not anything special about the first possession by either team, but it was effective for the Miami defense.
Miami’s offensive possession started at their 11-yard line after the punt. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa came out looking for wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, connecting with him for nine yards on the first play. Myles Gaskin ran for no gain on second down, with Tagovailoa looking back toward Waddle on third down for a five-yard gain on the 3rd-and-1 play. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa hit Waddle again, this time for 11 yards. Gaskin ran twice, picking up two yards each time, with Tagovailoa throwing incomplete - targeting Waddle - on third down leading to a punt.
Feels odd that Miami did not have their typical dominating opening drive. Waddle’s three receptions puts him five short of a new Dolphins franchise record for receptions by a rookie, while his 25 receiving yards has him 100 shy of that rookie record for the Dolphins.
The Giants again started with Barkley as the focal point after the punt. The running back started with a 10-yard gain on first down, but then lost five yards on a pass from Glennon. The quarterback then went to Darius Slayton for four yards, followed by a pass to tight end Evan Engram for 18 yards. After Booked took a run for a loss of two, Glennon looked down the right sideline for a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Kenny Golladay. On 1st-and-10 from the Miami 48-yard line, Glennon looked toward the endzone, throwing a bomb down the left side toward Slayton, but safety Jevon Holland and cornerback Xavien Howard were in coverage, with Howard coming away with the interception.
The Dolphins defense is getting after the run and shutting it down, but they are allowing some decent chunk plays right now. Howard’s interception was great, even if he did not get the 54-yard return on top of it and Miami had to start at the three-yard line.
Miami began with the ball at the three-yard line, with Gaskin taking the handoff four yards. A short pass to tight end Mike Gesicki picked up a yard, but Tagovailoa was sacked on the third down play and Miami had to punt on the three-and-out possession.
Dolphins felt very conservative there. They did not want to make a mistake so close to their own endzone.
The Giants started with great field position after a 50-yard punt from Miami’s Michael Palardy was returned 15 yards. Beginning at the Miami 37-yard line, Glennon threw to Booker, but again the Dolphins swarmed to the ball and pulled Booker down for a one-yard loss. A five-yard pass to Golladay ended the first quarter.
That felt like an incredibly fast opening period.
Glennon came out throwing on the first two plays of the second half, converting the 3rd-and-6 with a 12-yard pass to Golladay, but was incomplete on the next pass. Barkley then ran for no yards followed by another incomplete pass. The Giants settled for the Graham Gano 39-yard field goal. Giants 3-0.
Miami shut down the drive, despite New York starting in Dolphins territory. Other than the interception on the previous possession, and despite them being stout against Barkley and the run early, it does not feel like the defense is fully on their game yet.
The Dolphins began at their own 23-yard line after a short kickoff and a 15-yard return by Waddle. Tagovailoa started the possession with a pass to wide receiver Albert Wilson for four yards. Running back Salvon Ahmed then picked up 11 yards off the right side of the offense, then another two with a similar run. Wide receiver DeVante Parker, returning after a stint on injured reserve, gained 12 yards on his first reception of the game, with Tagovailoa finding rookie Hunter Long for his first career catch on the next play, picking up eight yards. Ahmed ran for no gain on 2nd-and-2, then Tagovailoa looked to Parker again, with the receiver catching the ball as he fell out of bounds for a six-yard gain. Tagovailoa threw an outlet pass to Gesicki on first down, but it lost two yards. After a six-yard pass to Waddle, Tagovailoa underthrew Wilson on third down. Kicker Jason Sanders tied the score with a 48-yard field goal. Tied 3-3.
It is good to see Parker back out there. He gives Tagovailoa another weapon in the passing game, and maybe takes some of the focus away from Waddle. Congrats to Long on his first reception. Hopfeully this is the start of him becoming a bigger part of the offense. Getting the points makes sense there, but like the defense, the offense just feels not quite in rhythm yet. They are producing, but not up to their potential yet.
After the touchback, New York began at their 25-yard line, with Glennon throwing an incomplete pass. After Barkley was stopped on a one-yard gain, Glennon was able to find Engram for a 16-yard conversion on 3rd-and-9. An incomplete pass, a Booker run for no gain, and a pass to Cooper for six yards led to a quick punt from the Giants.
Again, nothing great but just a solid performance from the Miami defense. They are shutting down the run, so there are no complaints there, but it just feels like they are one-stop slow right now.
With the ball at their own 11-yard line thanks to a good punt from the Giants, Miami began with drive with 4:18 on the clock, but seemed to abandon the run. Tagovailoa threw to Gesicki for eight yards, then Wilson for four yards, then Waddle for eight yards, and Gesicki for nine yards. After an offsides penalty on the Giants, the clock reached the two-minute warning. Tagovailoa then threw to Gaskin for two yards and Gesicki for nine yards. Gaskin took the first run of the drive - on play eight - for six yards before Tagovailoa threw a back-shoulder pass toward Parker, who knew exactly where the sideline was and kept his toes in bounds for the 17-yard gain. Tagovailoa then threw to Gesicki for four yards, followed by an incomplete pass. Waddle picked up another reception, gaining six yards to convert on 3rd-and-6, then Gaskin ran for a yard. After a Miami timeout, Tagovailoa floated a pass to the corner of the endzone with wide receiver Mack Hollins double-clutching the ball and dragging his toes for the touchdown. Dolphins 10-3.
Great execution from Tagovailoa and the offense. They were efficient and effective, moving the ball down the field, finding the right player, and making sure they knew what was happening with the clock. The 3:52 drive when they started at 4:18 left the Giants with nothing to try to answer, and given Miami gets the ball to start the second half, it was exactly what was needed.
New York ran the ball with Booked up the middle, killing the clock on the first half.
It is a weird game. Watching the halftime highlights, the Dolphins defense looks like they are dominating and they are shutting down everything the Giants are trying to do. The first half stats have New York only picking up six first downs with just 119 yards of offense. The Dolphins are holding the Giants to just 2.8 yards per rushing attempt. They have an interception. It just has not felt like they are dominating. It just has felt like they are a step slow so far.
The same goes for the offense, other than that last drive. They are playing well, but they are just not crushing it. And, there is nothing to point toward and say, “That is the problem.” It is a strange issue.
On the Waddle count, he had six receptions for 45 yards. He needs one catch to tie Jarvis Landry’s rookie record for receptions (84) and he needs 79 yards to tie Chris Chambers’ rookie record for receiving yards (883).
Miami began the second half with the ball at their own 25-yard line. Gaskin ran on first down, picking up six yards. Tagovailoa threw two incomplete passes on the next two plays, including throwing toward Gesicki right as the quarterback was crushed by a free rusher. Miami punted on a three-and-out drive to start the half. Punter Michael Palardy blasted a 65-yard punt to turn the field position.
Not a great way to start the second half. The third-down play was just a misread from Gaskin, who should have stayed inside to pick up the blitz, but released out to be a receiver. Tagovailoa paid for that mistake. Great punt from Palardy, though.
Starting at their own 15-yard line after the punt, Glennon threw to Rudolph for an 11-yard gain. Barkley then ran for no yards, followed by an incomplete pass from Glennon. Glennon then connected with Engram for 17 yards before Miami’s defense was gouged for 23-yards on a Barkley run and 16-yards on a Booker rush. After Booker picked up another two yards, Glennon threw two incomplete passes - including another throw into double coverage with Holland and Howard, with Holland just missing the interception this time. New York kicked a 34-yard field goal. Dolphins 10-6.
Those two runs are worrisome. Did the Giants find something that will allow Barkley to get into the game?
Miami began at their own 18-yard line after another short kickoff with a 17-yard return from Waddle. Tagovailoa scrambled for two yards on the first play, then Ahmed picked up another three yards on second down. On 3rd-and-5, Tagovailoa threw short to Waddle for three yards, leading to another three-and-out possession.
Two three-and-out drives to start the second half. Need to get something going on offense. Waddle’s reception ties him with Landry for the rookie record at 84 this season. He is 76 yards short of the yardage record.
The Giants matched Miami’s three-and-out with one of their own. Incomplete passes on first- and third-down sandwiched a Barkley direct snap for no yards.
Okay, the defense stepped up and shut down the Giants there. Elandon Roberts nearly had a pick on the first-down play while Christian Wilkins stuffed Barkley on the second-down play. Can the offense find a rhythm now that the defense got them the ball back?
Gesicki could not hang on to a high pass on first down for the Dolphins, getting both hands on the ball but not completing the catch. After a false start penalty on Liam Eichenberg, the Dolphins fell to 2nd-and-15, with Ahmed running for no gain on a draw on the play. On 3rd-and-15, Tagovailoa was sacked and Miami punted on another three-and-out.
Nope. They cannot.
The Giants began their drive at their own 46, with Glennon throwing an incomplete pass. After Booked picked up eight yards on a short pass from Glennon, Miami got luck as Engram got open deep, but just could not hold on to the ball. New York punted from the Miami 46-yard line, with the ball rolling into the endzone for the touchback.
There was clearly confusion on who was supposed to cover where on that third-down play for Miami. Nik Needham looked like he thought he had coverage on the short route, but then turned and tried to catch back up to Engram. If Engram had caught it cleanly that could have been disastrous for the Dolphins.
Miami started with a 17-yard pass to Waddle, giving him the team’s rookie receptions record. Gaskin then picked up two yards on a run, but two incomplete passes, including a drop from Wadde on a slant that had the potential to go for a long way, led to a punt.
It was not a three-and-out, so that is an improvement I guess. But, congratulations to Waddle on the new team record. Next up in terms of receptions is Anquan Boldin’s NFL record of 101. Waddle is 59 yards shy of the Dolphins’ rookie receiving yards record.
The Giants began at their 15-yard line, with Barkley picking up three yards. Glennon threw an incomplete pass before Barkley was able to pick up nine yards on 3rd-and-7. Miami linebacker Jaelan Phillips recorded back-to-back sacks on the next two plays, backing New York back to their own seven-yard line. A delay of game backed up New York a little more before a 13-yard run from Booker ended the drive and the quarter.
Does anyone question the selection of Phillps anymore?
After the punt, Miami started at their possession at their 39-yard line. Ahmed picked up two yards on first down, then Tagovailoa looked deep over the middle to Waddle, who caught the pass falling to the ground. He was not touched as he started to get up, dropping the ball as a defender punched at it making the tackle. Waddle recovered, but was in pain and had the trainers come out after the play. Waddle left the field, running into the locker room. Tagovailoa threw to Parker for 10 yards, then to Wilson who turned a one-yard pass into a 14-yard gain. After two Gaskin runs for three- and four-yard, Tagovailoa rolled out left and found wide receiver Isaiah Ford in the front corner of the endzone for the touchdown. Dolphins 14-6.
Perfectly done by Tua. Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…NOW!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) December 5, 2021
Obviously, the story of the drive is Waddle. Will he be okay? He ran into the locker room, so that seems to be a positive sign, but his knee was clearly twisted on the tackle. It was a good drive and Miami needed those points.
The Miami defense came out attacking after the kickoff. Jerome Baker nearly got to Glennon on first down, then Wilkins nearly got him on second down. Both plays resulted in an incomplete pass. Adam Butler recorded a sack on the third down play, leading to a punt.
Attack! Attack! Attack! That is the Miami defense right now. Feels good to finally see it.
Miami began the drive at the Giants' 38-yard line after a short punt from New York and a penalty for the Giants’ coverage running out of bounds and not getting back in bounds. Two runs from Ahmed for four total yards and an incomplete pass led to a missed field goal from Sanders and Miami did nothing with the ball.
Not that a 52-yard field goal attempt is a sure thing ever, but Sanders’ rough 2021 continues. The good news during the drive was Waddle was back on the sideline, with the report indicating it was a cramping issue, not anything else.
After the missed field goal, New York started with the ball on their own 42-yard line. Slayton caught a pass on first down, picking up nine yards. Barkley then picked up three yards to convert for the first down. After an incomplete pass on first down, Glennon found Bokoed for eight yards. After linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel batted down the ball on third down, New York converted the 4th-and-2 play with a three-yard run from Barkley. A pass from Glennon to Barkleypicked up two yards, but two incomplete passes in a row led to a 51-yard field goal from Gano. Dolphins 17-9.
The defense is still looking to attack, but the Giants started going to quick, short throws to beat the blitz. It was effective, and the Giants were able to move down the field. The short field helped New York, so Miami giving up a field goal there was not a bad outcome.
The Dolphins got the ball back with 4:59 remaining in the game and looked to eat as much of that as they could. Gaskin picked up four yards on first down, but had a short pass attempt to Wilson knocked down by the defense at the line of scrimmage. Tagovailoa looked back to Parker on 3rd-and-6, working the back-shoulder, falling out of bounds pass to perfection for a 16-yard gain. Gaskin then ran for four yards, followed by a two-yard run. After a Giants timeout, Tagovailoa looked over the middle for a gain of 17-yards as Gesicki went up and caught the pass in traffic. After the Giants’ final timeout, Gaskin picked up three yards to keep the clock running. Gaskin picked up another two yards, with Miami letting the play clock roll down to just a couple of seconds remaining each time. The Dolphins let the clock tick down to the two-minute warning after the run. Gaskin ran the ball for two yards on a 3rd-and-5 play, with the team calling timeout with 1:16 remaining in the game. After a false start penalty, Sanders hit on a 48-yard field goal. Dolphins 20-9.
The Dolphins were not looking to do anything but run the clock on the drive. With 4:59 at the start of the drive, they gave the ball back to the Giants down 11 with 1:11 on the clock. It was a an effective drive.
Miami’s defense went into a prevent style, just trying to keep everything in front of them. Glennon found Engram for 10 yards to start the drive, with Andrew Van Ginkel called for offsides on the next play. Glennon then threw to Barkley for 11 yards before spiking the ball to stop the clock. The Giants then repeated the sequence, with an 11-yard pass to Barkley and a spike to stop the clock. New York attempted a 56-yard field goal with 14 seconds left, hoping to have a chance with an onside kick if they scored. The kick sailed wide right.
The defense was still getting after Glennon, but also just trying not to be beaten deep. They did that and held on for the win.
Tagovailoa knelt to kill the clock and end the game.