It has been said that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.
The Miami Dolphins put that theory to the test on Sunday in Detroit when they found themselves down early against the Lions 14-0, then 21-7, before reaching halftime down double digits at 27-17.
In the past, previous Dolphins’ teams would have packed their things at halftime, got the team buses started, and called it a game right then and there.
However, the 2022 Miami Dolphins are not like those Miami Dolphins teams of the past. This team is never out of a fight, especially when they have their leader, Tua Tagovailoa, under center. They proved that in early season battles with the Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills. On Sunday against the Lions, they showed their proud fanbase that once more.
In the first half, Miami’s defense struggled mightily to contain a potent Lions offense that had just gotten back to near full strength with the returns of running back D’Andre Swift and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
What happened in the second half? The Dolphins defense pitched a shut-out by not allowing their opponent to score any points in the third and fourth quarters for a second week in a row.
Tagovailoa and receivers, Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, continued to carve up Detroit’s poor secondary to the tune of 14 second-half points to erase that previously mentioned double digit halftime deficit, and by the time the clock hit all zeroes, the good guys in aqua and orange left the Motor City with a 31-27 victory.
Side note: I had the privilege of attending Sunday’s game and at halftime, I overheard a Lions fan utter this prophetic line: “Watching the Lions is like watching the movie Titanic and hoping the boat doesn’t sink at the end even though you know it’s coming.” I just thought that was too good not to share!
Now, let’s dive into the good, bad and ugly of the Miami Dolphins victory over the Detroit Lions.
Miami’s passing offense looks nearly unstoppable
On Sunday against the Lions, Tua Tagovailoa had, arguably, his best game at quarterback in his NFL career. The 24-year-old threw the ball 36 times, completing 29 passes (80.5%) for 382 yards and 3 touchdowns. That was good for a 138.7 passer rating. He added 19 yards rushing on the ground. Oh, and no almost interceptions were thrown...
Jaylen Waddle caught eight passes for 106 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Tyreek Hill once again dominated the opposition, snagging 12 receptions on 14 targets for 188 yards.
Hill continues to lead the league in receiving yards and remains on pace to break Calvin Johnson’s single season receiving yards record as he is now on pace to catch for 2,042 yards this year.
The Dolphins offense punted the ball away just once on Sunday in Detroit. In fact, outside of the fumble on their opening possession, the one punt and the kneel downs to end the game, Miami scored on every other drive they had against the Lions.
Miami Dolphins are committing an embarrassing amount of penalties
According to teamrankings.com, the Miami Dolphins are tied for the fourth most penalized team in the NFL over the past three weeks, averaging 7.3 accepted penalties per game.
In the first half alone against the Lions, Miami had four accepted penalties. However, they committed 11 penalties total, with seven of them being declined.
A particularly frustrating call that kept being made against the Dolphins on Sunday was of the neutral zone infraction variety. The Dolphins couldn’t stop themselves from lining up offsides.
These mind-boggling mental mistakes came very close to contributing to a Dolphins loss on Sunday if it weren’t for the heroics of Tagovailoa, Hill and Waddle.
Mike McDaniel will need to have tough conversations with his position coaches so that the Dolphins can clean up the ugliness surrounding this plethora of penalties per game going forward if they want to continue to add notches in the win column this season.
Liam Eichenberg goes down with serious knee injury
Say what you want about Liam Eichenberg’s effectiveness on the field at the left guard position along the offensive line, but the second-year player’s game had taken an incremental step forward over the past couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, against the Lions, Eichenberg looked to have suffered a potentially serious knee injury late in the third quarter on a touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Mike Gesicki.
Eichenberg’s Dolphins’ teammates surrounded the player as the doctors tended to him before ultimately placing him on the medical cart and taking him back to the locker room. Head Coach, Mike McDaniel, didn’t have a diagnosis immediately following the game, but did say that his heart went out to the 24 year old.
Injuries are always going to be a part of the game of football, yet you still hate to see anyone go down with a potentially season-ending one. Here’s hoping Liam can make a full recovery as quickly as possible.
Through eight games, Miami has a record of 5-3. Do you think Miami’s passing defense will be getting reinforcements in the form of Byron Jones or an outside trade or signing soon? Will Tua Tagovailoa be able to carry over his success against the Lions in Chicago next week when the Dolphins take on the Bears? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!