The Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions went toe-to-toe in an offensive slugfest. Miami finished the game with 476 yards of offense, while the Lions were just below the 400-yard mark at 393. The game featured 121 offensive plays, with Miami picking up 7.4 yards per play and the Lions 6.9 yards. This game was all about the offense.
At the end of the day, Miami’s defense did just enough to slow the Lions in the second half, keeping them off the scoreboard despite Detroit’s offense moving the ball. Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa finished the game with 382 passing yards on 29-for-36 passing with three touchdowns, giving him a 138.7 rating. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill gained 188 yards on 12 receptions while receiver Jaylen Waddle caught eight passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Mike Gesicki caught the other score, one of his three receptions for 38 yards.
Dolphins 31 - Lions 27
First Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins won the toss and deferred, making them 7-1 on the year on coin tosses, having only lost last week’s flip. The Lions received the opening kick and immediately took it to the Dolphins. Quarterback Jared Goff threw to Jamaal Willams for 10 yards on the first play, with linebacker Elandon Roberts called for taunting on the tackle, giving Detroit a free 15 yards. Running back D’Andre Swift picked up two yards on the next play, followed by a pass from Goff to Kalif Raymond for 27 yards on a pass that cornerback Xavien Howard just missed being able to break up or intercept. Goff then threw to James Mitchell for 14 yards, setting up 1st-and-Goal at the Dolphins’ seven-yard line. Williams ran it in from there on an easy run up the middle. Lions 7-0.
That was way too easy for the Lions. They went 75 yards in five plays and 2:01 off the clock. They just smacked the Dolphins in the mouth and now Miami has to respond.
Miami started the drive with a 12-yard run from running back Raheem Mostert, followed by a pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to fullback Alec Ingold for five yards. Running back Chase Edmonds then picked up eight yards on a rush, but Miami gave it right back on a sack of Tagovailoa. On 2nd-and-18, Tagovailoa found wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for four yards, then he connected with wide receiver Tyreek Hill for 10 yards. On 4th-and-4, Waddle picked up nine yards on a pass from Tagovailoa. On 1st-and-10 from the Lions’ 35-yard line, Tagovailoa threw to rookie Braylon Sanders making his NFL debut, with the receiver making the 13-yard catch but fumbling the ball and having the Lions recover.
Miami clearly was looking to get Hill and Waddle started early. Not the debut Sanders was hoping to have. This is a rough start from both the defense and the offense now.
Detroit again went straight after Miami’s defense and again found success following the turnover. Williams picked up three yards on the first play, then Goff threw to Reynolds for five yards on the next play. On 3rd-and-2, Goff found tight end T.J. Hockenson down the sideline, with the catch and run picking up 58 yards and moving the ball to the Miami 12-yard line. Reynolds picked up five yards on the first down run, then, following an incomplete pass, Goff found Swift in the endzone for the score. Lions 14-0.
Okay, this has started out almost as poorly as it could. What is happening with the defense? Clearly, the Lions saw something on the film and are exploiting it early. The Dolphins need to make an adjustment quickly.
Miami started their second possession looking to forget about the fumble. They started with a 24-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Hill, jumping the ball from their own 20 out to the 44-yard line. Tagovailoa then went to Gesicki for seven yards. After a holding penalty backed up Miami 10 yards and an incomplete pass, Miami faced a 3rd-and-13, with Tagovailoa laying up a jump ball for Hill, who came away with the 36-yard gain. Mostert then ran for two yards, followed by a reception from Waddle for 12 yards. After a run from Mostert for no gain and an incomplete pass Tagovalioa threw incomplete on 3rd-and-Goal, but an illegal contact penalty gave Miami new life. They used it on the next play with Tagovaloa finding Waddle for the five-yard touchdown pass. Lions 14-7.
Okay, that felt more like the Dolphins offense. Clearly going to Waddle and Hill and making the Lions try to stop both of them is going to lead to good things for Miami.
The Lions are not going to roll over, though. They started the drive at their own 25-yard line, throwing an incomplete pass on first down. On second down, Goff threw to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown for six yards, then again for 21-yards as the first quarter ended.
Not the defensive start to the game expected from the Dolphins, but the team is in the game and this may just be an offensive contest.
Second Quarter Reactions
Picking up where they left off, Goff found Raymond for 43 yards on the next play, setting up 1st-and-Goal from the Miami five-yard line. After a run of four yards from Williams, he finished it on the next play with a one-yard run for the score. Lions 21-7.
Seriously, where is the Dolphins defense?
Miami started at their own 25-yard line, with Tagovailoa scrambling out of the pocket and throwing the ball just before he crossed the line of scrimmage, finding Hill 42-yard down field. After Mostert lost a yard, Tagovailoa threw to Hill for five yards, then laid a perfect ball out in front of Waddle for the 29-yard touchdown. Lions 21-14.
Miami’s offense is clearly in this game, however.
The Lions continued the offensive onslaught in this game, starting with a four-yard run from Williams. followed by a six-yard pass from Goff to St. Brown. Williams then picked up seven yards and 15 yards on back-to-back runs. Goff threw two incomplete passes to set up a 3rd-and-10, with Goff converting it on a pass to St. Brown for 12 yards. An incomplete pass, followed by a Williams run for no gain brought up another 3rd-and-10, with Goff finding Maurice Alexander on the crossing route. Cornerback Xavien Howard, who had to run around a pick attempt, managed to chase down Alexander after seven yards, preventing the conversion and leading to a Lions field goal. Lions 24-14.
It was not a great defensive stand, but it at least was not a touchdown allowed. Miami can work with that.
The Dolphins came out with running back Salvon Ahmed getting his first touch of the year, picking up two yards on the run. After an illegal motion penalty on Hill and an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa threw to wide receiver Trent Sherfield on 3rd-and-13, picking up 14 yards on the play. Edmonds then picked up four yards, before an incomplete pass. On 3rd-and-6, Tagovailoa found Waddle for 13 yards, then threw again to Hill for 18 yards. After a sack, Miami was backed up to a 2nd-and-15, with an incomplete pass, followed by a seven-yard pass to Hill. Miami settled for the matching field goal. Lions 24-17.
There were five penalties called on the Dolphins on that drive, with four declined. Miami’s going to get in their own way very quickly if they do not figure out how to stop this rain of yellow.
Swift started the drive with a one-yard gain as the clock reached the two-minute warning. After an incomplete pass on second down, Goff threw a seven-yard pass to Swift, leading to an apparent three-and-out, except Detroit faked the punt, picking up 13 yards and converting for the first down. Goff then had his pass batted back to him by defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, turning the play into a five-yard reception to himself. Goff then threw to Reynolds for nine yards, St. Brown for eight yards, and Hockenson for 11 yards. An illegal contact penalty on safety Clayton Fejedelem gave the Lions five free yards, followed by an eight-yard pass from Goff to Swift. After an incomplete pass left three seconds on the clock, Detroit kicked a field goal to take the game to halftime. Lions 27-17.
Penalties, penalties, penalties. There were another two flags on Miami on this drive, with one declined. Miami’s defense is getting picked apart by Goff right now, and they are then aiding him with dumb penalties.
The Dolphins defense is struggling, but the story of the first half is the penalties. There have been 11 flags thrown on Miami in the first 30 minutes of the game, with four of them accepted. Players are lining up offsides, they are starting toward the line of scrimmage before the snap, they are not getting set on offense, and they are making contact with receivers down field. This is ugly, this is undisciplined, and this is unacceptable. Head coach Mike McDaniel and the rest of the coaching staff have to be losing their mind watching this, and they need to make sure the team knows it.
Miami’s offense looks good. Hill has 142 yards receiving in the first half, while Waddle has 72 and two touchdowns. They are making things happen. The running game is just about non-existent, with just 26 yards on seven attempts, but if Miami can move the ball through the air and keep up with the Lions’ offense - which is a weird statement but with how the defense is playing in the first half, is accurate - than they need to just keep using what is working.
Miami starts with the ball in the second half and they need to put up points to respond to the Lions’ first-half ending field goal.
Third Quarter Reactions
Miami started with the ball, beginning the drive with a 20-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Gesicki. Mostert then ran for five yards before Tagovailoa looked deep for Hill, picking up 17 yards on the pass over the middle. After another pass to Hill for four yards, Mostert picked up 13 yards and the first down. Mostert then added a yard before Tagovailoa scrambled for three yards. Sherfield caught an 11-yard pass on the next play, then Mostert ran for no yards on 1st-and-Goal, but a defensive offsides penalty gave Miami another first down. Ingold then went in motion, stopped under center, and snuck his way into the endzone for his first career touchdown. Lions 27-24.
That was the drive the Dolphins offense needed coming out of the halftime break. They are keeping the pressure on the Lions. Tagovailoa is playing exceptionally well and is putting the ball exactly where it needs to be. He has 305 passing yards already on the day.
The Lions started their drive with a six-yard pass to Raymond, followed by a seven-yard run from Swift. Three-straight penalties on the Lions, two false starts and a hold, and the Lions were backed into a 1st-and-30. An incomplete pass was followed by passes to Swift for three yards and two yards, leading to the first punt of the day.
Penalties clearly helped, but the Dolphins defense has made a stop. This is the first possession in which the Lions did not score. Can Miami take advantage?
Starting at their own 33-yard line after the punt, Tagovailoa started the drive with a 16-yard pass to Waddle. After an incomplete pass, he came back to Sanders for four yards, then scrambled for an 18-yard gain - noteworthy that he slid to end the run. Mostert then picked up four yards, with Hill gaining seven yards on a reverse on the following snap. Mostert picked up another four yards, then three yards to set up a 3rd-and-3 from the Lions’ 11-yard line. Tagovailoa threw to Gesicki in the middle of the endzone for the touchdown and a Miami lead. Dolphins 31-27.
That’s exactly what needed to happen. Tagovailoa is on fire today and is just crushing it. Guard Liam Eichenberg was injured on the touchdown play. CBS elected not to replay the injury and Eichenberg was taken off the field on a cart. That is never a good sign. Hopefully he is able to recover quickly from the injury.
The Lions started the drive at their own 16, picking up six yards on a pass to Brock Wright as the third quarter ended.
Okay, the Dolphins have the lead now heading into the fourth quarter. Another defensive stop could be the game.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
Williams picked up four yards to convert the first down for the Lions, but a penalty on the next play backed up the Lions into a 1st-and-15. Goff scrambled for three yards on the pay, then an incomplete pass was negated by an offside penalty on Xavien Howard (when no flag was even thrown, which is odd). Swift lost two yards on the next play, then Zach Sieler recorded his first sack of the year to force a second-straight punt from the Lions.
The defense did its job. Now the offense needs to score to put this away.
Mostert started the possession for Miami with a 12-yard run. Hill then lost two yards a pass, but Tagovailoa found Waddle for 18 yards to convert for the first down. Edmonds ran for no gain on the next pay, then picked up two yards. Tagovailoa threw away the ball on third down, with Miami flagged for both illegal motion and illegal shift on the play with both flags declined. Miami punted for the first time on the day.
Miami had a chance to seal this game but could not do it there. The defense needs to step up again. And, we are again seeing the rash of penalty flags on Miami. That should be 14 flags thrown (counting the no flag on Howard) with six accepted.
Detroit began the drive with an eight-yard pass from Goff to Williams, then backed that up with a Williams run for eight yards. Goff continued the eight-yard gain with a pass to St. Brown on first down, then threw to Williams for five yards. Craig Reynolds ran for two yards on first down, then after a three-yard loss on a pass, a neutral zone infraction by Christian Wilkins gave the Lions five free yards. Goff then found St. Brown for eight more yards. Swift was stopped by Wilkins for a two-yard loss on first down, then an incomplete pass set up 3rd-and-12. Goff threw to Hockenson who fought forward for 11 yards, with the Lions electing to go for it on 4th-and-1. On a deep shot down to the endzone, the ball fell incomplete with Miami’s undrafted free agent rookie cornerback Kader Kohou in perfect coverage on Reynolds on the play.
Miami is starting at their own 35-yard line with the lead. Time to crush the clock.
The drive started with a nine-yard run fro Mostert, then another two-yard run to get the clock to the two-minute warning. Tagovailoa then threw deep to Hill for 19 yards. After a Mostert run for no gain, Detroit took their first timeout. Mostert ran again for two yards. leading to another Detroit timeout. On 3rd-and-8, Tagovailoa threw to Hill for eight yards and the first down. After the final timeout from the Lions, Miami knelt twice to end the game.
Great clock-killing drive, including Miami not being afraid to throw the ball to pick up yards and make the Lions use their timeouts.
Immediate Post-Game Reactions
The offense is the story of the day, and Tagovailoa was dealing all day long. He looked sharp and he looked decisive. The rust he seemed to have last week as he returned from a two-week absence is clearly gone and he is ready to pick back up after the hot start he had in the first three weeks of the season.
The defense struggled against the Lions, which is concerning. Detroit looked like a high-powered offense early in the season but then fell off the last two weeks, scoring a total of six points in two games. This team looked more like the early season Lions, but the Dolphins defense - and the penalties - were a part of that.
Speaking of the penalties, that was insane. Miami was called for more times lining up in the neutral zone than I have ever seen in any game. Probably in multiple weeks. The coaches have to get after this issue this week. Miami cannot afford to continue to give up free yards.
With the New England Patriots win over the New York Jets on Sunday, the entire AFC East is at 0.500 or better. Miami is now tied with the Jets at 5-3, though the Jets hold the head-to-head tiebreak over the Dolphins right now. The Buffalo Bills play tonight, with the potential of Green Bay winning that game and Buffalo, New York, and Miami all sitting on five wins through Week 8.