The Miami Dolphins came into Week 13 looking like a high-powered offense ready to take on any team in the league. They left Week 13 with a loss, an offense struggling to have any success, and an end to their five-game winning streak. The game started with a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the game for Miami, then everything fell apart from their as the San Francisco 49ers dominated the game.
And they did it with the backup quarterback. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo was lost after the first series with a foot injury, leading to Brock Purdy, the 2022 Mr. Irrelevant after being selected with the final pick in the NFL Draft, playing most of the game. The 49ers defense did what it was advertised to do and the Dolphins offense, especially quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, looked like it was pressing all game long.
Dolphins 17 - 49ers 33
Third Quarter Reactions
The 49ers started with the ball after deferring to the second half. They started with a one-yard run from running back Christian McCaffrey, then a four-yard pass from quarterback Brock Purdy to fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Purdy then found wide receiver Jauan Jennings for a 15-yard gain across the middle, but an incomplete pass, a McCaffrey run for four yards, and a sack by linebacker Melvin Ingram led to a 49ers punt.
That is the start to the second half the Dolphins defense needed. The 49ers could have double-dipped, scoring just before halftime and right after, but the defense made the stop.
After the punt and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the 49ers, Miami came out looking to get quarterback Tua Tagovailoa into a rhythm, hoping to put the first half behind them. Tagovailoa found wide receiver Tyreek Hill for 19 yards on the first play with a roughing the passer penalty adding another 15 yards. Offensive lineman Robert Jones was called for a false start, then offensive lineman Robert Hunt was called for holding - a phantom call with no hold shown on the replay - and Miami was backed into a 1st-and-25. The offensive struggles continued on the next play, with Tagovailoa under pressure and throwing toward running back Jeff Wilson, Jr., who slipped allowing cornerback Jimmie Ward to make the interception.
Still need to settle down the offense, carrying over the theme from the first half.
After the pick, the 49ers came out throwing, with Purdy finding receiver Deebo Samuel for 11 yards and receiver Brandon Aiyuk for nine yards. After Juszczyk ran for no gain, Purdy again found Samuel for 10 yards, with the quarterback narrowly escaping the pressure to make the throw. After a timeout, running back Jordan Mason picked up six yards, then ran again for one yard. On 3rd-and-3, Purdy threw to a wide open McCaffrey, with Miami safety Jevon Holland closing and crushing the running back to prevent the first down. On 4th-and-1, Dolphins defensive lineman Zach Sieler appeared to make a stop on the quarterback sneak, but the second effort managed to pick up the first down. On an endaround to Samuel, the Dolphins appeared to have him stopped for an 11-yard gain, but he slipped through the defenders and turned it into just a five-yard loss. A screen pass to Aiyuk picked up two yards and the 49ers settled for a field goal. 49ers 20-10.
The Dolphins defense is trying to hold on, but for some reason they are struggling agains the rookie Purdy. The 49ers have a two-score lead now and, unless the offense figures something out quickly, that feels like a huge lead.
Miami came out looking to get the offense is rhythm, rolling Tagovailoa out to his left and throwing to a wide-open Hill in the flat - but Tagovailoa again overthrew his receiver and Tagovailoa has interceptions on back-to-back pass attempts.
Seriously, what is happening?
San Francisco started with the ball at Miami’s 25-yard line after the interception, with Mason picking up five yards on the first down run. After an incomplete pass and a timeout, Purdy found McCaffrey for a two-yard gain and the 49ers kicked another field goal. 49ers 23-10.
The defense is trying to keep the Dolphins in this game. The offense has to fix itself now.
Tagovailoa threw to Hill for seven yards on first down, then to receiver Jaylen Waddle for nine yards, his first reception of the day. A false start on receiver Trent Sherfield led to the end of the third quarter.
This offense is explosive and can get back into this game, but they have to do it starting now.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
After the break, Tagovailoa stepped up in the pocket and found Hill for 19 yards. On the next play, Hill was open down the middle of the field and Tagovailoa hit him in stride for the 45-yard score. 49ers 23-17.
The Dolphins are back in the game!
San Francisco started the drive with an incomplete pass, then Purdy found Samuel for a nine-yard gain. Purdy went back to Samuel again for a 12-yard gain before Mason was stopped for no yard. After a Purdy pass to McCaffrey for six yard, an incomplete pass led to a 49ers punt.
There is the defense doing their best to get the ball back to Miami. Now time for the offense to put together a drive and take this lead.
Miami’s drive started with a seven-yard run from running back Raheem Mostert, moving the ball out to the 17-yard line. Tagovailoa then threw to tight end Durham Smythe, who was stopped one yard shy of the first down. Tagovailoa found Sherfield deep on the next play, but the call was reversed on replay and it was ruled incomplete. On 4th-and-1, Miami went for it, with Tagovailoa throwing to Hill for nine yards. Tagovailoa then threw quickly to receiver River Cracraft for an 11-yard gain, then a bubble screen to Hill for nine yards. Mostert then picked up eight yards on 2nd-and-1, moving the ball into 49ers' territory. Tagovailoa threw to Hill for three yards on the next play, followed by a five-yard run from Mostert. On 3rd-and-2, the Tagovailoa pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage, setting up a 4th-down play. Tagovailoa threw to tight end Mike Gesicki for what appeared to be the first down, but the 49ers challenged again and again the call was overturned, this time leading to a turnover on downs.
Damn. That drive was working.
Samuel was stopped for no gain on first down, then a throw from Purdy to Samuel picked up nine yards. On a play-action pass to tight end George Kittle, linebacker Jerome Baker just missed stopping the play short of the first down. Mason picked up two yards to get the ball to the 50-yard line. Samuel caught a short pass on the next play and tip-toed down the sideline for a nine-yard gain and a first down. After a San Francisco timeout, McCaffrey broke through the Miami defense for 30 yards. Miami took their first timeout after the play, with McCaffrey stopped for a three-yard loss on the next play. After the second Dolphins’ timeout, Purdy was sacked for an eight-yard loss. After Miami timeout number three, a holding penalty backed up the 49ers 10 yards. McCaffrey then ran for two yards and the 49ers kicked a 48-yard field goal. 49ers 26-17.
The defense tried to keep Miami in the game, but at some point the 49ers were going to find their running game. McCaffrey is too talented to think you will shut him down all day. The Dolphins will get the ball back before the Two-Minute Warning, but this is going to be tough.
The Dolphin started at their own 25-yard line, with Tagovailoa looking deep on the first play. The ball was punched out of Tagovailoa’s hand by edge rusher Nick Bosa, giving him a third sack on the day, and the 49ers recovered and returned it for the touchdown. 49ers 33-17.
Just a rough game all around for the Dolphins.
Miami pulled Tua Tagovailoa for the next drive, with rookie Skylar Thompson entering the game. Thompson looked deep toward Hill on the first play, with Fred Warner picking off the pass and giving the ball back to the 49ers.
Ouch. But seems like the right ending to the game.
The 49ers knelt to kill the clock on three plays.
Miami was just beaten down all game. The offense could get nothing going after the first play of the game. Tagovailoa looked like he was trying too hard to make plays and he sacrificed his accuracy because of it. They cannot afford to make mistakes like they did in this game, especially playing against a defense as good as the 49ers’. San Francisco, once they got the Dolphins pinned back against the ropes, just kept coming with the body blows until Miami crumbled.
It was a great performance by the 49ers. There is no way around that. Even with Purdy in for most of the game, they did what worked and they stuck with it. San Francisco won the chess match, and Miami now has to get ready for a Sunday Night Football appearance next week.
The loss pushed the Dolphins from the second seed in the AFC playoff picture to the sixth seed. With the Kansas City Chiefs losing to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the Dolphins could have moved into the number one seed but instead, the Buffalo Bills are in the spot now.
The Dolphins are staying out west this week to prepare for their game against the Los Angeles Chargers. They have a lot of work to do to figure out what happened in this game and make sure it does not continue beyond today.