Through eleven games this season, the Miami Dolphins had a record of 8-3 and were sitting in second place in the entire AFC — just behind the Kansas City Chiefs. Many Dolphins fans had visions of the Lombardi Trophy dancing in their heads, amazed at the job head coach Mike McDaniel had done with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in just his first season on the job.
Well, those Super Bowl dreams have quickly turned to nightmares as the Miami Dolphins dropped their fourth straight game — this time at home against the Green Bay Packers on Christmas day — to fall to 8-7 on the season while clinging for dear life onto the AFC’s 7th, and final, playoff seed.
Gone are the feel-good times.
Gone is the magic from the left arm of Tagovailoa.
Gone are the pundits claiming that the Dolphins could be the most dangerous team in the National Football League.
Here we are again, in the all too familiar spot of hoping with every fiber of our being that this Miami Dolphins team can find a way to turn things around late in the season and limp into the playoffs so we can look back on 2022 and say, “Well, at least they ended their playoff drought.”
Will this Dolphins team make the playoffs? Do they even deserve to go to the dance after the performances they’ve put forth over the past four weeks? I don’t have the answers to these questions.
I’m just as lost as you are right now, but nevertheless, we’ll take a look back at the good, bad and ugly from Miami’s 26-20 defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Miami’s rushing defense holds a potent ground attack in check
Wait a minute. There was good from this game? Again, I’m just as frustrated as you are, but there were some bright spots during Sunday’s game. One, in particular, was Miami’s ability to hold the Packers' rushing attack to a paltry 79 yards on 25 carries — just a 3.2 yards per-carry average.
In fact, against Green Bay’s star running backs, Miami’s front four did a stupendous job, allowing just 25 yards to Aaron Jones and 36 yards to AJ Dillon.
While the Dolphins' defense has generally underperformed as a whole in 2022, their ability to contain opposing running backs has been a constant source of relief in an otherwise rough year.
Self-inflicted wounds prove fatal for Fins
New day. Same old story.
That’s how it felt against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The Dolphins couldn’t get out of their own way, consistently shooting themselves in the foot during critical moments of the game.
Whether it was untimely penalties, bad special teams play, or turnovers, the Miami Dolphins were their own worst enemies against the Packers.
The Dolphins had four turnovers on the day — three interceptions from Tua Tagovailoa (more on that later) and one in the form of a backbreaking fumble from running back Raheem Mostert right before the end of the first half with Miami up by 10 points, in possession of the ball near midfield, and driving in for an even bigger lead before the half.
Instead, the Packers would recover Mostert’s fumble, kick a field goal before the break and then immediately march downfield on the first possession of the second half to score the game-tying touchdown. Miami would never regain the lead as they were shut out offensively during the third and fourth quarters.
Tua’s three interceptions put the final nail in the Dolphins’ coffin
Remember when earlier this year Hard Rock Stadium was filled with “MVP, MVP, MVP” chants for third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa?
It may be hard to fathom with how Tua has looked in three of the past four Dolphins’ losses, but at one point this season, he was nearing the lead of the Most Valuable Player race — battling it out with fellow quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.
Alas, those days are long gone, and if you needed a reminder of that fact, Tua’s play during the second half of Miami’s loss to the Packers would serve as the harshest prompt.
The Dolphins’ final three possessions of the game all ended in Tagovailoa interceptions — one an overthrow directly to Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander, one a miscommunication with Raheem Mostert, and one a mind-baffling decision on Miami’s final drive, a drive that could have served as one of the game-winning variety if the Dolphins had been able to drive the length of the field and punch the ball in for a touchdown as time expired instead of throwing the football directly into the hands of Packers defensive back Rasul Douglas.
Tua Tagovailoa has stumbled, crumbled, and faltered over the last few weeks of the season, and his poor play has left the Dolphins in a very precarious position with just two weeks of regular season games left on the docket.
Tagovailoa, and the entire Dolphins team, better get things figured out... and fast, otherwise their 2022 season will end the same way as the 2021 and 2020 seasons did — with Miami just missing out on the playoffs and their fanbase asking themselves if Tua can be the quarterback who will be able to lead the Dolphins to the promised land someday.
As I sit here and shake my Magic 8-Ball, the only answer staring back at me is, ‘reply hazy, try again.’ And try again, he will — next week on the road against the New England Patriots, and then once more back home against the New York Jets.
Through fifteen games, Miami has a record of 8-7 after suffering a fourth straight defeat, this time at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. At this point, do you have any faith that this team can figure things out and find a way to get to the playoffs? Do they even belong there if they do in fact sneak in? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!