The Las Vegas Raiders and Miami Dolphins faced off Saturday night as part of the 2022 NFL Preseason’s Week 2 slate of games. The game featured Miami using many of their starters, while the Raiders sat their first team. Nothing spectacular came out of the game for Miami, who dropped to 1-1 on the preseason with the loss.
The Raiders improved to 3-0 on the preseason, having one more game after their appearance in the Hall of Fame Game to start the year. This also marks the first time the Raiders have beaten the Dolphins in the preseason, making their record 1-3 against Miami.
Raiders 15 - Dolphins 13
First Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins' defense was on a roller coaster during the first Raiders possession. The drive featured a sack from Zach Sieler, a near interception after a Nik Needham tipped pass, another pass breakup from Needham, and a 3rd-and-18 turned 4th-and-4 play for the Raiders. It also featured a 16 yards pass from Jarrett Stidham - starting in place of Derek Carr - to Tyron Johnson, a 14-yard pass from Stidham to Jesper Horstead on the 3rd-and-18 play, a 15-yard pass to Horstead on 4th-and-4, an 18-yard pass from Stidham to Keelan Cole, and a two-yard Zamir White touchdown run. Some good, some bad as the Dolphins defense - using many of their starters - struggled to stop against the Raiders. Raiders 7-0.
It was a similar feel for the Miami offense, led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the first time this year, on their opening possession. Chase Edmonds lost four yards on the first play, but then was able to pick up 17 yards on a 3rd-and-4 play two snaps later, with Tagovailoa nicely rolling out of pressure to make the throw. After that good play, however, three straight passes to tight end Mike Gesicki included an incomplete pass, a one-yard gain, and an incomplete pass. Miami was forced to punt.
The Raiders second possession was headlined an injury to Dolphins cornerback Nik Needham. Needham is in position to be the team’s third cornerback, working alongside Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, should this be a minor injury. It appeared the trainers were looking at Needham’s fingers before taking him to the locker room. The Miami defense was able to force a punt after a five-play drive for the Raiders.
Miami looked more in rhythm with the ball on their second drive. Tagovailoa was able to find Trent Sherfield for a 16-yard gain to start the possession, then Chase Edmonds picked up three yards, then four yards on the ground. After a pass to Edmonds for four yards and a pass to Gesicki for nine yards, the quarter ended with Miami sitting at the Raiders’ 24-yard line and facing 2nd-and-1.
Second Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins ran Sony Michel twice to start the period, but could not convert for the first down. On a 4th-and-Inches play, left tackle Larnell Coleman jumped early, backing up the Dolphins who settled for a 46-yard field goal from Jason Sanders. Raiders 7-3.
The Raiders replaced Stidham with Nick Mullens for the drive. On a 3rd-and-4, Mullens was able to find Cole for 22 yards, giving the Raiders a first down. More importantly, the second injury to a cornerback popped up for the Dolphins as Keion Crossen was slow to get up, needing the trainers to come out before walking off and into the medical tent on the sideline. Two plays later, Porter Gustin pulled down Mullens for the sack, leading to a punt two plays later.
Teddy Bridgewater entered the game for the Dolphins on the next possession, replacing Tagovailoa. After a three-yard run from Salvon Ahmed, Bridgewater was flushed out of the pocket, then threw the ball away as he was being sacked, leading to an intentional grounding penalty in the endzone, giving the Raiders a safety. Bridgewater needed to do better in that situation. He had time to throw the ball away, but he waited until he was being pulled down and the ball did not reach the line of scrimmage. Raiders 9-3.
The Raiders were unable to do anything after the safety, however, and punted on a three-and-out possession.
Bridgewater had a better second drive, working with Braylon Sanders and River Cracraft to pick up 41 yards. He also targeted Mohamed Sanu and Gesicki on the drive, but incomplete passes, including a drop from Gesicki on 3rd-and-12 that could have converted the first down, led to another Sanders field goal. This time, the kicker blasted the ball 57-yards for the points. Raiders 9-6.
The Raiders’ drive featured two runs from Drake for no gains, then a pass from Mullens toward Johnson, with Kader Kohou elevating to nearly pick off the ball on the pass breakup. Las Vegas punted after another three-and-out. The Dolphins' defense, led by linebacker Duke Riley, simply shut down the Las Vegas offense on the possession.
With just 1:42 remaining in the half, the Dolphins went into attack mode. Bridgewater threw to Gesicki - who is the only starter still on the field for Miami - for 16 yards. Two plays later, he threw a perfect rainbow pass to Sanders for 28 yards. After Myles Gaskin picked up a yards, setting up Miami with a 2nd-and-9 at the Raiders’ 15-yard line, Bridgewater threw a short pass to Gaskin, who spun with the ball only to have it knocked out of his grasp. Initially blown dead as an incomplete pass, the replay clearly showed it should have been a fumble and a Las Vegas recovery. Replay overturned the ruling on the field, but the whistles turned what should have been a Raiders’ touchdown on the fumble return into the Raiders simply running out the clock on the next play.
The Dolphins are lucky to still be in this game. That fumble at the end of the half should have been a touchdown for the Raiders, while the Miami offense just has not been able to find a rhythm. They are sloppy with the ball right now, and it is not getting better. They have to address it during halftime and come out looking to keep control of the ball better.
The defense had some good moments, but overall the entire first half just felt like a forgettable performance. The team did some things well. They messed up some things.
My immediate reactions to the first half. pic.twitter.com/QCDI8lfb4C— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) August 21, 2022
Third Quarter Reactions
Miami opened the second half with a 54-second three-and-out. Not exactly the momentum-building drive the team wanted.
The Raiders' offense did not have the same issue. Chase Garbers came in at quarterback for Las Vegas and immediately connected with running back Brittain Brown for eight yards. He was able to effectively move the ball down the field for the Raiders, including two runs, one for 18 yards and one for seven, to set up a 1st-and-10 at the Miami 11-yard line. An illegal formational penalty and a sack by Ben Stille stalled out the drive, leading to a Las Vegas field goal. The defense giving up chunk runs to a quarterback - with Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on the schedule in Week 2 and Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 - is a worrisome situation. Granted these are depth players in a preseason game, but it is still not a great situation. Raiders 12-6.
The Dolphins’ offense was more effective on their next drive, including Bridgewater finding Erik Ezukanma for 26 yards on the second play and both Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin picking up yards on the ground. However, the Raiders' defense stiffened as Miami entered the redzone and, on a 4th-and-7 attempt from the Raiders’ 20-yard line, Bridgewater was sacked and the Dolphins turned the ball over on downs.
Las Vegas’ drive featured a first down on a 24-yard pass from Garbers to Horsted, but that was essentially it for the possession. The Raiders punted after a six-play, 33 yard drive. FOr Miami, the concern on the possession was another injury to another cornerback. Mackensie Alexander, signed this week as the roster replacement for Trill Williams, was slow to get up. The trainers took him to the medical tent, though he did emerge shortly thereafter and remained on the sideline.
After the punt, Miami brought in Skylar Thompson at quarterback. Myles Gaskin picked up three yards on first down, leading to the end of the third quarter.
The Dolphins just seem to be going through the motions today.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
The quarter opened with Thompson throwing deep to Ezukanma, who adjusted back to an underthrown pass to catch it for a 34-yard gain. Thompson then looked toward Preston Williams for nine yards. After Gaskin picked up four yards on 2nd-and-1, Thompson went back to Williams for another nine yards. After another four-yard reception from Williams, ZaQuandre White picked up four yards on the ground. On 2nd-and-6, Thompson found White in the flat on a designed play-action pass, with the running back making one defender miss and then walking into the endzone, giving Miami the lead. Thompson seems to have locked up his roster spot with another strong performance tonight. He has sparked the offense and looks comfortable on the field. Dolphins 13-12.
Great play design. Touchdown Thompson to White for the Miami lead.— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) August 21, 2022
Las Vegas began their possession at their own 25-yard line, and quickly began the drive to answer Miami’s score. Garbers again took off, picking up 28 yards on the first play. The running back continued to gouge the Dolphins, with Brown picking up nine yards, then four yards, on two straight plays. Suddenly at the Miami 34-yard line, Brown picked up another 10 yards before Garbers threw to DJ Turner for 16 yards. At the Miami eight-yard line, the Dolphins defense finally buckled down. Brown was stopped for short gains on two straight plays before Owen Carney, Jr., was able to fight off his block and track down Garbers for a sack. The Raiders settled for the field goal. That sack was the definition of a coverage sack, with Garbers holding the ball way too long as he tried to find an open receiver. Carney was actually blocked out of the play but had the time to fight back in to get to Garbers. Raiders 15-13.
Miami came back with another roller coaster of a possession. It started with an early snap from Michael Deiter to Thompson, who was still trying to send signals to the receivers. White jumped on the loose ball, keeping possession for Miami. Thompson then turned to Ezukanma, who caught passes of 23 yards and 24 yards before another snap issue led to a burned play as Thompson fell on the ball. After a four-yard loss on a screen pass, Ezkunma gained 11 yards on 3rd-and-13, leading to another Sanders field goal attempt. This time, the ball knuckled to the left and hit the upright, falling no good.
The Raiders picked up 36 yards on a Brown run to start the drive, then knelt to run out the clock.
After a mostly forgettable game, Thompson to Ezukanma definitely added some excitement down the stretch. It is the preseason, so the result does not really matter, but Miami never really felt like they were in a game. It really felt like a glorified scrimmage tonight.
There are plenty of things the Dolphins have to clean up before the regular season starts, but nothing seemed horribly wrong. The running game has not established itself yet, and given Mike McDaniel’s penchant for having a strong rushing attack, that is concerning.
The biggest thing facing the Dolphins over the next two weeks is the cornerback depth. With players continuing to get injured, the team has to figure out who is going to provide depth behind Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, and Nik Needham - and that is assuming Jones is off the Physically Unable to Perform list and ready to play in Week 1 and Needham’s hand injury is not severe.