The Miami Dolphins started the year by converting 6 of 14 third downs in a win against the New England Patriots. Additionally, the offense found itself in third-and-short on seven of those 14 attempts.
It was clear that Mike McDaniel built an offense that was determined to stay ahead of the chains — but that was taken to a different level against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
The Dolphins converted 7 of 11 third down attempts and now rank sixth in third down conversion rate at 52 percent. It’s worth noting that No. 1 Buffalo (90 percent) and No. 2 Philadelphia (58.82 percent) play on Monday night.
Tua Tagovailoa threw six touchdown passes against the Ravens, four of them came in the second half — on third down. Tagovailoa stood tall on the first drive after the break, connecting with Mike Gesicki, who showcased his volleyball expertise by getting above the net, for a touchdown on third and 13.
After a punt on the second drive, Tagovailoa hut the B-button and spun away from a defender before hitting River Cracraft for a two-yard touchdown, also on third down.
Miami’s defense forced a turnover on downs and Baltimore’s defense was caught playing the sticks on third and 10 from its own 48-yard line. One flat-footed defensive back was all Tyreek Hill needed to go to the house, cutting the deficit to seven with seven-plus minutes left in the game.
Baltimore, however, was caught flat-footed again. This time it came from Miami’s own 40-yard line and Hill threw up the peace sign after tying the game with a sixty-yard scamper on third and six.
While Miami’s game-winning touchdown came on second down, it’s hard to ignore how successful the team has been on third down. In fact, the Dolphins are one of four teams currently perfect on fourth down through two games (the Vikings play on Monday night).
Tagovailoa ranks first in passing yards (739) and is tied for first in passing touchdowns, now with seven. McDaniel has pulled all the right levers at all the correct times through two games — something that can’t be taken for granted when other first-year head coaches have seen a steep learning curve early in the year.