The Miami Dolphins return to Hard Rock Stadium for the first time since Week 12 today as they host the Green Bay Packers in a Christmas Day, Week 16 meeting. The AFC playoff picture has the Dolphins two wins away from clinching a playoff berth this season, while the NFC playoff picture has Green Bay holding off elimination for another week but teetering on the edge of missing the postseason. Today’s game could be the stepping stone for either team to start a run into and through the playoffs.
Miami is on a three-game losing streak, coinciding with their three-game road trip and dropping them to 8-6 on the season. They are currently the seventh seed in the AFC and are in control of their own pathway to the postseason.
The Packers are 6-8 on the year, stuck two games below .500, but having won their last two games to at least be able to see a path to the playoffs. They will need help over the next two weeks to be able to claim a berth, with a Christmas win almost a necessity if they really want to have a chance this year.
Throughout the game, we will keep up with all of the action and scoring right here. You can check out our immediate reactions from throughout the game as well.
Packers 26 - 20 Dolphins
First Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins started the game on offense, opening the possession with an incomplete pass followed by a 14-yard run from running back Raheem Mostert. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa found wide receiver Tyreek Hill for 14 yards on the next play, with Mostert then picking up 17 yards and two yards on two carries. After a Miami timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty, Miami turned to back to the ground game, this time with running back Jeff Wilson, Jr., who picked up five yards. On 3rd-and-3 from the Packers’ 33-yard line, Tagovailoa looked toward Hill down the sideline, but the ball fell incomplete. Miami settled for a 46-yard field goal from Jason Sanders to open the scoring. Dolphins 3-0.
Good opening drive. The running game is working, so the Dolphins need to make sure they stick with it. The third-down pass toward Hill was the look Miami wanted, with single coverage on their top receiver, but the coverage stuck with him and did not allow him to make a play on the ball. A run there could probably have converted the first down, but the look was there and Miami took a chance. They cannot play the field goal game all day, not with Aaron Rodgers on the other sideline, but in this case, it did not feel like a bad play call or a wasted opportunity.
The Packers opened their first possession at the Dolphins’ nine-yard line after a Keisean Nixon 93-yard kick return. Running back Aaron Jones picked up four yards on the first play, taking the ball to the Dolphins four-yard line. On 2nd-and-Goal, linebacker Elandon Roberts rushed up the middle and pulled down the packers’ quarterback for a 13-yard sack. An incomplete pass on third down led to a Packers field goal. Tied 3-3.
That was a great stand by the defense. The Packers had to move the ball nine yards to score, and they actually ended up 18 yards away from the goal line. Roberts had a great first defensive possession, recording the tackle on the first play and the sack on the second.
Miami started at their own 16-yard line after the kickoff, then picked up the remaining 84 yards on a pass over the middle from Tagovailoa to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who ran down the sideline, with Hill blocking for him, to score. Dolphins 10-3.
That looked a lot more like the Dolphins offense from the first 11 games this year, as compared to the frustrated one that has been a feature of the three-game losing streak. Getting Waddle involved in the offense, early is a great sign as he has disappeared over the last few weeks. Love Hill blocking all the way down the field to make sure Waddle scored.
Green Bay looked to respond, starting with an 11-yard slant from Rodgers to wide receiver Allen Lazard after Miami tried to squib kick the ball, only to give the Packers the ball at the 46-yard line. Running back AJ Dillon then picked up six yards on the ground before Rodgers came back to the slant, finding wide receiver Christian Watson, who turned it into a 20-yard gain. Rodgers looked to the flat on a swing pass to Jones on the next snap, picking up two yards. The Packers went back to the air on second down, this time with Rodgers looking Waston in the endzone, but cornerback Keion Crossen broke up the pass. The pressure got to Rodgers on third down, with the quarterback somehow avoiding it and turning it into a 12-yard gain. On 1st-and-Goal from the Miami three-yard line, Watson lost two yards on a pop-pass. On 2nd-and-Goal, safety Eric Rowe broke up a pass at the goal line targeting Lazard, with the pass rush mudding up the area around Rodgers’ feet. Rodgers found an open Watson on the next pass attempt, but the receiver fell down before he could turn up field. After a Green Bay timeout, tight end Mercedes Lewis was able to leak out from the line and Rodgers found him for the score. Tied 10-10.
That is why you cannot settle for field goals all game. Rodgers can will this team to score points. That was an effective drive, using short, quick passing to pick up chunk yards - pretty much how Miami’s offense is designed to work as well. Get the ball into the hands of the playmakers and let them do their job. There were some good plays, like Crossen and Rowe breaking up passes and the pass rush getting into Rodgers’ face, but they need to turn those into stops.
Miami started at their own 25-yard line, with Wilson picking up 12 yards on the ground. Tagovailoa looked to Hill on the slant on the next play, picking up 18 yards. After a Wilson run for six yards, Tagovailao scrambled for three yards but a holding penalty on center Conner Williams backed Miami into a 2nd-and-14. A high snap went over Tagovailoa’s head on the next play, with the quarterback having to fall on the ball. A bubble screen attempt to Wilson was blown up immediately leading to a Dolphins punt.
The first quarter ended with Rodgers laying a beautiful pass down the sideline to Lazard for 42 yards.
The Dolphins are showing some of the explosiveness their offense has had this year, and the defense is making some plays. But they have to move from “some” to getting it done.
Second Quarter Reactions
After the quarter change, Jones picked up two yards on a run, then Lazard dropped a pass that would have given the team a first down. On 3rd-and-8, Rodgers again avoided the pressure, scrambling for seven yards. The Packers went for it on fourth down, with Watson running deep toward the endzone but the pass being overthrown. Miami took over on downs.
Okay, there is the stop the defense needed. Now Miami has to put up points and get this game moving in the right direction.
The Dolphins opened the drive with a 13-yard run from Mostert, but Pro Bowl tackle Terron Armstead was called for holding and pushed Miami into a 1st-and-20. Tagvailoa looked deep down the sideline for tight end Mike Gesicki on the next play, picking up 24 yards on the pass. After an illegal shift penalty on Miami, the Dolphins went deep again, this time with Tagovailoa finding Hill for 52 yards and setting up Miami with 1st-and-Goal from the Packers one-yard line. Wilson punched it in on the next play. Dolphins 17-10.
That is the answer Miami needed. Even with the penalties, the offense did not slow down. Great to see Gesicki make a play. Can they get him more involved in the offense - he definitely would add another dimension to the offense as they look toward the playoffs. This is what the Dolphins are supposed to be and it is good to see them coming out of the road-trip funk they had.
Rodgers started the drive with a seven-yard swing pass out to Dillon, with the running back picking up a yard on the ground on the next play. On 3rd-and-2, Rodgers threw the ball away, leading to a punt. The Packers elected to fake the punt, but the Dolphins special teams read it well and Raekwon Davis made the tackle to give Miami back the ball.
The Dolphins can really step on the Packers now.
Starting at the Green Bay 20-yard line, a holding penalty negated a three-yard run from Mostert to set up Miami in a 1st-and-20 at the 30-yard line. Tagovailoa then found Waddle for 12 yards before a sack backed up Miami again. After a timeout, on the 3rd-and-14 play, Tagovailoa connected with wide receiver Trent Sherfield for 15 yards and a new set of downs. Wilson then ran for a yard before Tagovailoa was sacked again on the next play, fumbling as he was pulled down with guard Robert Hunt falling on the ball. A pass for two yards from Tagovailoa to Mostert on third down led to a Miami field goal. Dolphins 20-10.
That was not the dominating, take complete control of this game offensive drive, but it pulled Miami out to a two-score lead and keeps the pressure on the Packers. Effective if not dominating.
The Packers began at their own 18-yard line after the kickoff, with Rodgers sacked on the first play as defensive lineman Christian Wilkins pressured the quarterback who ran into Rowe and was pulled down. An incomplete pass, with cornerback Xavien Howard nearly pulling down the interception, was followed by a Rodgers’ pass to Watson for eight yards. Green Bay was forced to punt on the three-and-out drive.
The defense is starting to turn it up. If Wilkins can start to dominate the line of scrimmage, good things will happen for Miami. I was literally stunned that Howard did not come down with that interception. He played it perfectly, was in position, had the ball in his hands. That is an X interception 99 out of 100 times.
Tagovailoa shoveled the ball forward to tight end Durham Smythe as he was about to be sacked, turning a loss into an eight-yard gain. After the two-minute warning, Miami ran the ball with Mostert, but the running back fumbled and the Packers recovered.
Ouch. It was a good strip by Jarran Reed, who also recovered the loose ball. Defense needs to make sure this does not become a double-dip situation.
An incomplete pass, followed by a nine-yard pass from Rodgers to Watson set up a 3rd-and-1, with Dillon stopped by defensive lineman Zach Sieler for no gain. On 4th-and-1, Rodgers found Watson for 10 yards, with Rowe hitting the receiver right as he caught the pass, but the rookie receiver held on for the conversion. After a Green Bay timeout, Rodgers threw two incomplete passes, including on second down when Wilkins batted down the pass at the line of scrimmage. The Packers tried to quick snap the ball to catch Miami’s defense with an illegal substitution, but the Dolphins managed to call a timeout. On 3rd-and-10, the Packers ran a screen pass to wide receiver Romeo Doubs, with Wilkins chasing him down to keep the gain to just two yards. The Packers ran the clock down to seven seconds and connected on the field goal. Dolphins 20-13.
Rowe and Wilkins are having themselves a game. They seem to be everywhere right now. The Packers get the ball to start the second half, so the one-score game is not the ideal situation right now.
The Packers squibbed the kick to run off the remaining two seconds and take the game to the half.
The Dolphins are looking like themselves once again. Tagovailoa is averaging 19 yards per passing attempt and 25 yards per completion. Waddle and Hill are getting deep, and they are taking shorter passes and turning them into big gains. Tagovailoa has found six different receivers already and has 229 passing yards in the first half.
All that said, the team also is running the ball, averaging 5.8 yards per rush attempt. Mostert has 33 yards on four carries while Wilson has 25 yards on five attempts.
Miami’s offense has only run 24 plays, but it is because they are picking up chunks of yards.
Of course, that could be concerning for the defense, especially if Rodgers gets hot. Miami leads the time of possession 16:07 to 13:53, but they need to make sure they are not wearing out the defense in the second half.
The defense is doing well, especially Rowe and Wilkins. They are making plays and they are getting after Rodgers. They have to keep it up in the second half, especially with the Packers starting with the ball in the second half and able to tie up the game.
Third Quarter Reactions
The Packers started the second half with the ball, beginning the drive with a Jones run for three yards. Rodgers threw to Lazard for four yards on second down, followed by a two-yard run from Dillon on the next snap. Rodgers converted on a 4th-and-1 attempt with a two-yard quarterback sneak. Dillon picked up 11 yards on the next play, using a beautiful kick-out block to find space. Tight end Josiah Deguara caught a four-yard pass before Dillon slipped and loss three yards. Rodgers then threw to running back Patrick Taylor who turned upfield for a 17-yard gain. As the Dolphins defense got pressure onto the Packers’ quarterback, Rodgers dropped a perfectly placed pass into Lewis down the sideline, picking up 21 yards. After a Dillon run for six yards, the running back finished the drive with the one-yard score. Tied 20-20.
The double-dip hurts. Miami was on the verge of breaking this open, but the Mostert fumble has reset this game. The Dolphins offense needs to get into a rhythm now and start putting points back up on the board.
Mostert started Miami’s drive with a three-yard gain but then was stopped for a one-yard loss. Tagovailoa was flushed out of the pocket on third down, finding Waddle for a seven-yard gain but setting up 4th-and-1. The Dolphins elected to go for it on fourth down, with Mostert picking up nine yards up the middle. Mostert then picked up another yard before Tagovailoa threw a perfect pass to Waddle for a 24-yard gain. Tagovailoa flipped the ball toward Alec Ingold on the next play, with the fullback having to bat it down to avoid a possible interception. Mostert picked up two yards on a short pass from Tagovailoa, but an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-8 led to a field goal attempt, but kicker Jason Sanders pushed the ball well right of the goal posts.
Needed those points. The Packers defense is starting to get to Tagovailoa and the offense needs to adjust. Now the defense needs to shut down the Packers’ on this drive and get the ball back for the offense.
Rodgers threw a quick in-route to Doubs on the first play of the drive, moving the ball 12 yards and out to midfield. Lazard kicked up nine yards as Rodgers threw a quick pass right over the Miami blitz. After a play action pass that came back to target Jones, who had made the run fake, picked up seven yards, a Jones run for four yards was negated by a holding penalty. The third quarter ended after the penalty.
Miami’s defense needs to step up now. The Dolphins should be in full control of this game, but Rodgers is Rodgers and he is not going to go away quietly. With Jones and Dillon starting to get into a rhythm, the defense needs to make a play.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
After an incomplete pass deep down the sideline, Rodgers threw to Dillon over the middle for five yards. On 3rd-and-15, cornerback Kaden Kohou intercepted the pass at the goaline on a deep pass attempt.
And there’s the play that was needed. Kohou’s first career interception came at the perfect time.
On the first play of Miami’s possession, Tagovailoa looked deep toward Hill, but Jaire Alexander came away with the interception, giving the ball right back to the Packers.
Oooof. That was rough. The defense makes the play to get the ball back and stop the Packers’ drive, only to have it given immediately back to Green Bay.
After an incomplete pass, the Packers were called for a false start. A five-yard gain on a Rodgers pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb seemed to set up the Packers with a long third down, but Jaelan Phillips was called for roughing the passer for a two-had touch on Rodgers, giving the Packers a first down. Rodgers fumbled the snap on the next play, with Dillon falling on the loose ball. A pass into the flat on second down lost five yards as linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel closed on Lazard to make the tackle. An incomplete pass into the endzone led to a field goal. Packers 23-20.
The Packers lead for the first time this game. The Dolphins offense has to answer, and they need to do it with a touchdown to take back the lead.
Miami started the drive with a seven-yard run from Wilson, followed by a 16-yard gain on a pass from Tagovailoa to Waddle. After a Wilson three-yard gain was followed by no gain on another Wilson run, the Dolphins faced 3rd-and-7, with Tagovailoa finding Sherfield for a 10-yard gain and a first down. After a pass to Waddle was broken up, Tagovailoa threw to Hill for 19 yards. A Wilson run for two yards took the ball to the Green Bay 25-yard line, with a Waddle reception for 15 yards negated by an illegal formation penalty. Tagovailoa then looked to throw a quick seam pass to Mostert, but the running back was not looking for the ball and De’Vondre Campbell picked off the pass.
Two drives in a row ended with a pick. With six minutes remaining in this game, the Packers are going to try to kill the clock. Miami’s defense once again needs to make a play.
Jones was pushed out of bounds on the first down run, picking up a yard on the play for Green Bay. Rodgers then found Doubs deep for 22 yards. Rodgers ran on a designed play on the next snap, with Van Ginkel chasing him down and stopping any gain. Rodgers then threw to tight end Robert Tonyan for 13 yards and a first down. Now at the Miami 28-yard line, the Packers used a timeout, then saw a holding penalty negate an eight-yard scramble from Rodgers. On 2nd-and-20 at the Dolphins 38, Jones picked up 18 yards on a toss right. After a Miami timeout, defensive tackle John Jenkins was called for encroachment, giving the Packers a free first down. Jones was stopped for a three-yard loss on the next play, followed by a Dolphins timeout. Dillon picked up eight yards on the next play, with Jaelan Phillips just tripping up the running back who had a clear path to the endzone. Miami used their final timeout before Dillon was stopped on a two-yard run. After Green Bay tried to draw Miami offsides and called a timeout, they connected on a 26-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Packers 26-20.
The defense did just enough to give the offense a chance. Will they be able to capitalize, put the two straight interceptions and three-game losing streak behind them?
Miami started the drive at their own 28-yard line with 1:56 remaining in the game. Miami began with a three-yard pass to Wilson, followed by a Tagovailoa pass straight to the Packers defense and a third straight interception.
What the hell just happened? Three straight drive ended with Tagovailoa interceptions. Tagovailoa looking toward Gesicki and Douglas played it perfectly. Miami has now dropped four-straight games
Rodgers knelt to kill the clock.
This game was there for the Dolphins. They were in control and they were dominating the first half. Four turnovers crushed the team. The Mostert fumble in the first half and three interceptions from Tagovailoa in the final three Dolphins possessions are just unacceptable. Miami’s playoff chances took a hit on Christmas Day. They are still very much alive and can clinch next week, but they had this game and it went all wrong in the second half.
Not even sure where to go with these reactions. It just feels like the floor was ripped out from under the team and the fans. Everything looked good, then suddenly it all snowballed and turned into an avalanche. Just a disappointing performance down the stretch.
Tagovailoa was 16-for-25 for 310 yards and a touchdown - a great stat line. Then the three interceptions are added into it, and all you can do is shake your head at it.
Waddle caught five passes for 143 yards and a score, while Hill had four receptions for 103 yards. Another great performance from both, but then the team did not win and even things like Hill setting the team record for receptions in a season is overshadowed by another loss.
Miami is now 8-7 on the year. They are still very much alive in the AFC playoff picture, but they could have been in a much better position with a win. They still control their own path to the postseason and wins the next two weeks get them there, but this hurts.