The Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings fought through a slugfest of a game on Sunday as part of the NFL’s Week 6 schedule. The game featured 13 three-and-out possessions from the two teams, but the offenses were able to find occasional success and the Vikings were able to come away with the win.
Miami saw quarterback Skylar Thompson, starting in place of Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater, leave the game with a thumb injury, leading to Bridgewater coming into the contest. The offense for the Dolphins never seemed to find a rhythm, with mistakes and penalties costing the team 97 yards throughout the contest. The Dolphins tried to make it interesting late, but it proved to not be enough and they now slide to a three-game losing streak after starting the year with three-straight wins.
Below you will find our in-game reactions.
Vikings 24 - Dolphins 16
First Quarter Reactions
(Reactions in italics)
The Dolphins won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Vikings started the game at their own 25-yard line after the touchback on the kickoff. Miami’s defense stepped up on the possession. After giving up an eight-yard pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins to receiver K.J. Osborn, Miami stuffed running back Dalvin Cook for no gain, then forced an incomplete pass on third down. The Vikings punted to end a three-and-out possession.
Good start for the defense. Exactly how they are going to have to play this week to keep some of the pressure off Thompson. The Dolphins are also 6-0 on coin tosses this year. It does not really mean anything, but interesting stat.
The Dolphins just barely avoided disaster on the punt. Safety Jevon Holland back to return the kick muffed the catch as he got clotheslined as soon as he touched the ball. Luckily Miami fell on the loose ball and kept possession. Thompson came out throwing, going first to fullback Alec Ingold for eight yards, then to wide receiver Tyreek Hill for two yards. Two runs from running back Raheem Mostert picked up for yards, then lost a yard, before Thompson took off on a scramble for a nine-yard gain and another first down. A couple of plays later, Thompson found tight end Mike Gesicki over the middle for 18 yards. The drive stalled after that, however, as running back Chase Edmonds picked up just one yard, an incomplete pass, and an eight-yard sack backed Miami into needing to punt.
It was not the scoring drive that would have been great to start the game, but Thompson coming out and getting into a rhythm is an important part of the game. He looked sure of himself, and he does not seem to be letting his first start get to him.
Thomas Morstead punted the ball down to the Vikings’ six-yard line, where Justin Bethel downed it to set up the Vikings with a long field in front of them. Two Cook runs picked up just one total yard, with Cousins barely getting the third-down pass off as Trey Flowers pulled him down for the near sack. The pass fell incomplete and the Vikings again went three-and-out.
Another good defensive stand. That non-safety was about as close as it could have been without Cousins being on the ground before he released the ball.
A booming punt from Ryan Wright blasted the ball 73 yards out of the endzone and pushed Hill, in the game as the punt returner, back to the Dolphins’ 18-yard line. Thompson again came out throwing, finding receiver Jaylen Waddle for 18-yard on the opening play. Mostert then picked up 16 yards on a run, followed by a pass from Thompson to Hill for nine yards. A direct snap to Moster picked up three yards and gave Miami a first down. The Dolphins got in their own way after that, with penalties called on each of the next three plays and five of the next seven plays. Miami was flagged for holding twice, a false start, offensive pass interference, and an illegal man downfield, negating 66 yards of offense as the team tried to keep making up the lost yards. Ultimately, after an incomplete pass on a 3rd-and-28 situation, the Dolphins punted.
That was simply ugly, even as the offense showed it could move the ball. Three straight penalties on offensive linemen, then the offensive pass interference, and a holding penalty on big plays just crushed any sort of chance Miami had to put up the first points of the game.
Starting at their own 20, the Vikings began with an incomplete pass, followed by a two-yard gain on a pass from Cousins to Osborn. The first quarter ended after the play.
It was a great first quarter for the defense, and the offense has shown it can move the ball - but they have to get out of their own way. The five penalties is the most on a single drive in the league this year. They cannot continue to do that.
Second Quarter Reactions
Minnesota continued their offensive struggles as the second quarter got underway, with Cousins throwing incomplete toward Osborn on 3rd-and-7. A third three-and-out drive for Minnesota.
The defense is trying to do everything they can to give the offense time to put up some points.
Miami came out with an Edmonds run for two yards on first down, but two incomplete passes on second- and third-downs led to a Miami three-and-out of their own.
The Dolphins tried to go deep to Hill on the drive, but the receiver was fighting through double coverage and could not get to the ball. But, it is important for Miami to show they will take that shot with Thompson at quarterback. They will hit it at some point.
The Vikings' offense was once again shut down on their next possession, with running back Alexander Mattison picking up three yards on first down, only to see Jaelan Phillips and Elandon Roberts pull down Cousins on the next play for a four-yard sack. A pass from Cousins to tight end Irv Smith picked up four yards, leading to a fourth-straight three-and-out.
Miami’s defense clearly came to play today. Midway through the second quarter, and they have not allowed a first down yet. They are shutting down receivers and getting after Cousins.
Teddy Bridgewater entered the game to replace Thompson on the next possession. Thompson went to the locker room with a thumb injury after hitting his hand on a helmet on the final pass attempt of the previous possession. After a one-yard loss on a pass on a run from Mostert, Bridgewater connected with Gesicki for a 17-yard gain. Mostert then picked up seven yards and two yards on two consecutive runs, followed by a two-yard run from Ingold for the first down. Mostert again went for seven yards, then two yards on the next two plays. On 3rd-and-1, Bridgewater tripped over guard Robert Hunt’s leg, got up and scrambled for no gain, leading to a 44-yard field goal from Jason Sanders. Dolphins 3-0.
Another week, another time when the Dolphins starting quarterback has been injured and had to be replaced. Thompson’s hand was bleeding as he headed into the locker room. With no practice this week, Bridgewater is again thrust into the lineup. Hopefully he is able to keep the offense moving.
The Vikings began at their own 25-yard line after the touchback and finally found a way to move the ball. On the first play, Cousins found wide receiver Adam Thielen for 14 yards. Miami cornerback Nik Needham was injured on the play, having to be taken off on a cart. Cousins went back to Thielen for another 11 yards on the next play, then went to Jefferson for 20 yards. Cook picked up three yards on a first-down run and, after a Minnesota timeout, Cousins threw to tight end Johnny Mundt for a yard. On 3rd-and-6, Cousins found Jefferson on a short crossing route, with the receiver turning up field for a 24-yard gain, with an additional yard added on a roughing the passer penalty against Christian Wilkins for a low hit on Cousins. On the 1st-and-Goal play from the Miami one-yard line, Cousins found Smith over the middle for the score. Vikings 7-3.
A great start to the game for the Dolphins defense disappeared on that drive. After holding the Vikings to four-straight three-and-outs, the defense giving up a touchdown there puts Miami behind on the scoreboard. It really is not fair to hold one drive after four great ones against the defense, but in a game in which the third-string quarterback has been knocked out of the contest and the second-string quarterback who had no preparation time this week has to come into the game, the defense has to be playing at their best for all 60 minutes.
Starting at the 47-yard line after a 25-yard kick return from Mostert and a 15-yard facemask penalty, Bridgewater threw two incomplete passes before finding Hill for 19 yards. After the two-minute warning, Miami’s drive stalled with an incomplete pass on either side of a run for no game from Mostert. Sanders then missed a 52-yard field goal.
The Dolphins need to get to halftime and get the offense reset. The line is allowing pressure too quickly and Bridgewater is spraying the ball around. The defense has been really good for most of the day. The offense needs to find some sort of rhythm.
Miami linebacker Elandon Roberts came clean up the middle on first down to record the sack on Cousins, dropping him for an eight-yard loss. Cousins threw a screen to Jefferson on the next play, with the receiver turning it into a 14-yard gain. An incomplete pass on third down, on a throw that likely would not have gotten the first down even if were caught, led to the fifth three-and-out drive for the Vikings on the day.
Much better from the defense. Can Miami do something with the ball?
Bridgewater found Waddle for 14 yards on the first play. AFter a Miami timeout, with 23 seconds remaining, Bridgwater looked deep for Waddle, with the ball somehow bouncing around several times but never hitting the ground and being picked off by Harrison Smith.
Ouch. That was a pure-luck type of interception.
The Vikings were able to take advantage of the interception, with Cousins looking deep for Thielen and cornerback Noah Igbingohene called for pass interference on the play. Cook then picked up five yards, setting up a 2nd-and-5 from the Miami 15-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Greg Joseph connected on a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the half. Vikings 10-3.
The Dolphins have actually played well through the first half, but mistakes and penalties are crushing them. The offense has been able to move the ball, but they cannot put up points. The defense has been fairly shutdown, but one drive and the pass interference call on Igbinoghene just before halftime have put the Dolphins in a touchdown-hole.
Miami gets the ball to start the second half, so they need to come out and answer the scores from the Vikings. The offense needs to adjust to Bridgewater under center instead of Thompson. If they can figure out how to make the adjustments they need, they can find their way back into the game.
Third quarter reactions
Miami started with the ball in the second half, but a pass from Bridgewater to Ingold for two yards, a bubble screen to Hill for two yards, and a Mostert run for no gain did not get it done. As the team lined up to punt, they faked it, with a direct snap to safety and personal protector Clayton Fejedelem who was pushed out of bounds for no gain. Miami turned the ball over on down at their own 34-yard line.
The Dolphins tried to spark something with the punt fake. They need to get something going on offense, so I cannot fault Mike McDaniel for trying to pull off something. Now, however, the Vikings have a short field to add to their lead.
Miami’s defense was not having any of it. On first down, Cousins tried a pop pass to Jefferson, with defensive tackle Christian Wilkins bursting through the line to pull the receiver down for a six-yard loss. On the next play, Wilkins again got into the backfield, this time to stop Cook for a one-yard loss. After a false start penalty on the Vikings and an incomplete pass, the Vikings were forced to punt on a three-and-out drive, despite starting at the Miami 34-yard line.
Wilkins was not going to allow the Vikings to use the field position to extend the lead. He took over that drive and, no pun intended, drove the Vikings backward. Great job by the defense to keep the score 10-3.
Miami’s offense again came out and immediately stalled. Mostert picked up three yards on first down, but a pass to Mostert for a loss of a yard was followed by a sack as Bridgewater waited for receivers to get downfield on the 3rd-and-8 play. Miami was forced to punt.
The Dolphins have a problem right now. The offense either is relying on a pass to the line of scrimmage with the hope the receiver can make several players miss, or they are allowing pressure to get to Bridgewater while the receivers get downfield. They need to find something that allows more time for Bridgewater, but they also need Bridgewater to do more than just look to the outlet.
The defense again came to play, stopping Cook after a three-yard gain on the first play. On the second-down play, Cousins looked deep to Thielen, but Igbinoghene broke it up perfectly. A pass for two yards to Smith led to another three-and-out for Minnesota.
Miami’s defense is crushing it in this game. If the offense finds any sort of rhythm, they will win.
Miami’s offense came out with three incomplete passes on the possession, leading to a punt.
That is not going to get it done.
After an incomplete pass from Cousins toward Thielen, with Igbinoghene in perfect coverage again. On second down, Cousins threw a bubble screen to Smith, with Zach Sieler there to make the stop for a three-yard loss and force a fumble, recovered by Minnesota Defensive tackle Raekwon Davis crashed through the offensive line on the next play to sack Cousins, leading to another three-and-out.
The defense is keeping it going. Where is the offense?
On the first play, Bridgewater found Hill deep for 21 yards, moving the ball from the Miami 14-yard line out to the 35. From there, however, the drive saw the offense go back into its shell A sack on first down was followed by a screen pass to Hill, which the receiver somehow turned into a 13-yard gain. On 3rd-and-4, Bridgewater was called for intentional grounding as he tried to avoid a sack. Miami punted again.
There was a moment when it looked like the Dolphins offense might finally open up. But it was quickly forgotten as soon as the sack happened.
The Vikings again struggled to open the drive, with Jefferson picking up eight yards followed by a Cook run for no gain. As they again appeared destined for a three-and-out, a fake toss with fullback C.J. Ham running the ball up the middle for three yards converted a first down for Minnesota. Cousins threw to Osborn for seven yards on the next play, then found Jefferson wide open on the sideline after a rub-route picked off Xavien Howard from the coverage. A 47-yard gain took the ball to the Miami eight-yard line and the clock to the end of the third quarter.
This was a very constipated quarter for both teams, but it is not looking good for Miami with the Vikings now threatening to score.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
After the break, the Vikings started with a six-yard run from Cook. On 2nd-and-Goal from the two-yard line, Cousins found Thielen on a crossing route in the back of the endzone for the score. Joseph missed the extra point. Vikings 16-3.
Miami has no choice but to press now. Down 13 with a quarter to go, they have to get the ball moving. The line needs to give Bridgewater some time and Bridgewater has to target receivers further down the field.
Bridgewater turned to Hill on the opening play of the drive, picking up 13 yards. Instead of the drive stalling there, however, they started to back it up with a three-yard run from Mostert, then a 28-yard catch and run from Hill as Bridgewater moved around in the pocket and found the receiver standing alone in the middle of the field. Bridgewater then connected with Gesicki for 13 yards, marking the first time on the day Miami reached the red zone. Moster picked up four yards on the next play, then Bridgewater scrambled for 1- yards. On the 1st-and-Goal from the four-yard line, Bridgewater found Gesicki again, this time for the score. Vikings 16-10.
Okay, this is not over. Getting Hill and Gesicki involved is what the offense needed. If the Dolphins can stop the Vikings offense here, they could take the lead on the next possession.
The Miami defense did what they have throughout much of the game on the next Minnesota dive. The Vikings saw Mundt gain nothing on the first play, then a nine-yard pass to Thielen was backed up by an incomplete pass before a punt.
Okay, the Dolphins defense did its part. Will the offense put together two straight scoring drives?
Miami began with a 25-yard pass from Bridgewater to Hill. After an incomplete pass, a sack for a loss of nine, and a pass to Edmonds for 14 yards, the Dolphins elected to go for it on 4th-and-5. Bridgewater again found Hill on the play, picking up 14 yards. After a holding penalty on Miami, Bridgewater found Sherfield for six yards, then Waddle for 14 yards and a first down, but the receiver lost the ball and the Vikings recovered.
Ouch. Just ouch. That is not normal for Waddle, who is not having his best day as a pro today. Miami looked like they would be able to get into the lead, but now they need the defense to step up again.
On first down, Cook picked up six yards. On second down, he went 53-yard for the touchdown. Minnesota converted the two-point try. Vikings 24-10.
This game went from Miami potentially getting the lead to feeling like it might be over pretty quickly. The Dolphins have to score quickly if they are going to make an improbable comeback.
Bridgewater threw to Hill for 14 yards on the first play, then looked to Sherfield on the second play, only to have Patrick Peterson jump the route and pick off the pass.
Thankfully, Tua Tagovailoa should be back next week. Maybe the offense can get out of this rut with him under center.
The Vikings ran the ball three times, forcing Miami to use two of their timeouts. On 4th-and-3, the Vikings punted back to Miami with 2:44 remaining in the game.
One timeout and the two-minute warning, down by 14. Miami is going to have to be in desperation mode the rest of this game, and Bridgewater has not done anything to prove he is good in desperation mode.
The possession started with a screen pass to Waddle, who turned it into a 49-yard gain. The receiver was injured on the play, however, seeming to have something happen to his left shoulder on the tackle. Bridgewater threw to Hill for 14 yards next, then to Gesicki for 14 more. After an ineligible receiver downfield penalty on a screen pass that never developed, Bridgewater was sacked as the clock reached the two-minute warning. After the break, Bridgewater floated a pass to Edmonds, who made a cut and picked up 14 yards. On 3rd-and-Goal from the three, Bridgewater found Gesicki for the touchdown. Miami failed on the two-point try. Vikings 24-16.
Okay. It is probably too little too late, given the likelihood of the onside kick, but the Dolphins are at least making this interesting.
Miami tried an onside kick, with Jason Sanders dribbling the ball to himself. Unfortunately, he just missed recovering it and the Vikings knelt twice to end the game.
Final Immediate Reactions
The Dolphins offense looks completely different with Tagovailoa leading it, so hopefully next week he is back out there and able to get a rhythm going. Add in the possibility of Terron Armstead and Austin Jackson both coming back to start at the tackle positions, and the Dolphins could see their offense take a giant step forward against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football.
Miami’s defense looked a lot more like the dominating defense we expected to see this year. They need to keep that up, especially if the offense is able to get going as well. The Dolphins have the ability to play a perfect complimentary brand of football, with the defense able to focus on pass rushing and forcing turnovers if the offense can put up some points.