The Miami Dolphins rallied to a Week 5 win after coming out of Week 4 with their first loss on the season. The Dolphins dispatched the New York Giants early on Sunday, maybe keeping the game a little closer than it needed to be at halftime, but taking care of everything in the second half.
Miami moves back into first place in the AFC East with the victory, moving to 4-1 on the season. The Giants drop to 1-4 on the year and are still looking for answers as they struggle early in 2023.
Here are my immediate reactions following the game, as well as my reactions from throughout the game. All my reactions are in italics.
Giants 16- 31 Dolphins
Immediate Game Reactions
The Dolphins did what they needed to do in this game, though this could have been much more lopsided than it was. Even with over 500 yards of offense and holding the Giants to less than 300, there were times when New York still had a path to getting back into the game. Was it a case of the Dolphins taking their foot off the gas knowing they had the victory?
Turnovers were a big part of the game. Miami lost a fumble and Tua Tagovailoa threw two interceptions. A minus-three turnover margin is going to lead to a loss most weeks. Yes, Miami’s offense is able to strike at just about anytime, but giving a team three free possessions is not acceptable. Both of Tagovailoa’s interceptions were questionable decisions at best.
The defense tallied seven sacks, which is obviously a good stat. However, with the Giants offensive line in shambles, it felt like they should have been able to do even more. That may be asking too much, but it feels like Miami was set up for a double-digit sack kind of day.
Miami’s offense is just dumb. When you can hand off the ball deep in your own territory and know that could be a touchdown on any given play, the running game is scary - and that is not even taking into account wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. This offense is rightfully being mentioned with the Greatest Show on Turf offense from the (then St. Louis) Los Angeles Rams. They now have set the record for most offensive yardage in the first five games of an NFL season.
The Dolphins need to correct the turnovers and they need to strengthen the bend but do not break defense to have a little less bend to it, but they are now 4-1, in first place in the division, and are back to looking like a team that can compete in the AFC all season.
First Quarter Reactions
The Giants received the opening kickoff and found initial success as they ran the ball up the middle with former Dolphins running back Matt Breida for six yards. Then, quarterback Daniel Jones was able to find wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins for 15 yards. The momentum ended there, however, as the drive ended with five more yards gained before a punt.
The key for Miami will be their ability to stop the rushing attack of the Giants, especially straight up the middle.
De’Von Achane, Miami’s rookie running back, picked up 24 yards on an end around on the drive’s opening play, with the Dolphins offense immediately in rhythm. Throughout eight plays, the Dolphins had one incomplete pass and the shortest gain was for two yards for the score. They had plays of 24 yards, 20 yards, and 23 yards on the drive. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa found wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for the two-yard score. Dolphins 7-0.
That felt like more like Miami’s offense after their struggles last week. Tagovailoa spread the ball around, throwing to four different receivers on the drive, and getting Achane involved early. As last week proved, one drive does not guarantee anything, but the Dolphins did move that ball very easily and need to keep pressing to put the pressure on the Giants.
The Giants were a little more in rhythm for their second possession, starting the drive with running back Eric Gray picking up five yards and an apparent 21-yard gain, but a holding penalty backed up the Giants. Facing a 2nd-and-12, quarterback Daniel Jones thew to wide receiver Sterling Shepard for 13 yards and the first down. After three runs, including a Jones scramble up the middle, the Giants neared midfield with a first down. A sack from linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah seemed to set up the Dolphins defense with the ability to get off the field, but two plays later saw Jones throw to wide receiver Darius Slayton for 15 yards and a first down. Miami shut down the drive there, however, with a four-yard pass form Jones to tight end Darren Waller, Gray was stopped by defensive tackle Zach Sieler for a one-yard loss, then defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and linebacker Bradley Chubb met at Jones for a sack.
Bend do not break defense at its finest there. Miami cannot give the Giants this much success, especially with a patched-together offensive line. The pass rush is starting, but they must live in the backfield today.
Second Quarter Reactions
The Giants missed a 55-yard field goal attempt to give the Dolphins the ball at their own 45-yard line.
At least they got out of the first quarter without giving up points. That first quarter felt fast. The Giants’ game plan may be to burn clock to keep the Miami offense off the field.
Miami started with a couple of runs from Mostert, picking up seven yards. Then Tagovailoa threw to wide receiver Tyreek Hill for five yards and a first down. On the next play, Achane up eight yards but fumbled as he was tackled and the Giants recovered.
Ouch. The Dolphins waste the field position.
The Dolphins defense came out looking to shut down the Giants quickly. On a pass out to the flat, cornerback Kader Kohou read the play perfectly and made the tackle for a four-yard loss. After an 11-yard gain on a pass from Jones, the Dolphins sacked the quarterback on 3rd-and-3, with linebacker Jerome Baker and cornerback Eli Apple combing on the take down. The Giants punted.
Okay defense. Keep this up. And keep getting to Jones.
Miami started the drive at their own six-yard line after the punt, with Tagovailoa throwing the ball at the feet of tight end Durham Smythe when everyone was covered. He then threw to Hill for 18 yards as he started to scramble away then found the receiver. Achane then decided to make up for the lost fumble and took the ball 76 yards for the touchdown. Dolphins 14-0.
Don’t blink or you will miss 76 yards.— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) October 8, 2023
Dear Lord, Achane is fast.
The New York drive featured 13 plays and took 6:21 off the clock, but only picked up 44 yards on the possession. Miami recorded another sack during the possession, with defensive tackle Zach Sieler getting to Jones. Waller kept the drive alive a couple of times, with receptions for 21 yards and 13 yards, but the sack forced the Giants to settle for a field goal. Dolphins 14-3.
Miami has four sacks already in this game and they need to keep growing that number in the second half. The Giants allowed 11 sacks last week. If Miami can keep the lead, they will force the Giants to pass more, allowing the defense to get after Jones and potentially push toward double-digit sacks. During the drive, Cornerback Xavien Howard likely saved a touchdown with an exceptional pass breakup on Waller down the sidelines.
Miami started with a false start penalty to set up a 1st-and-15 play. Tagovailoa threw to Hill on a slant, with the receiver finding the space in the middle of the field and turning it into a 64-yard gain. Achane then picked up 12 yards, moving Miami to the Giants’ four-yard line. After a run for no gain from Achane and the two-minute warning, Tagovailoa looked to Waddle but could not complete the pass. On 3rd-and-Goal, Tagovailoa tried to force a pass into Waddle, but the coverage deflected the pass, and New York picked it off and returned it 102 yards for the score. Dolphins 14-10.
Tagovailoa was off on his timing on the interception, and he tried to force it into tight coverage. That was just not a good-looking play from the beginning.
Getting the ball back with 1:40 on the clock, Miami came out firing. Tagovailoa threw to receiver Braxton Berrios for 13 yards on the opening play, then to Cedrick Wilson for 13 yards. After a timeout, the Dolphins attempted a screen pass to Waddle, but it only gained one yard. The ball returned to Waddle on the next pass attempt, picking up 12 yards. Tagovailoa went back to Wilson for 10 yards on the next play. After another timeout, Tagovailoa was sacked, leading to Miami using their final timeout. The Giants followed that with a timeout before Tagovailoa scrambled up the middle for nine yards. Tagovailoa spiked the ball with four seconds remaining in the half, leading to a Jason Sanders field goal attempt. Dolphins 17-10.
Miami gets the ball to start the second half, so getting points here allows them the opportunity to score on either side of the half. It was an efficient drive, but odd that Hill was not on the field at all for it.
Miami has played well, but they are making mistakes that are keeping the Giants in the game. They need to get the turnovers and the penalties under control. This game should not be a seven-point margin at the half.
The pass rush is showing up, but they need to keep getting after Jones in the second half. The Dolphins are the better team and they need to prove it.
Miami already has 326 yards of offense, despite having the ball less than 11 minutes. They are showing off their speed and they are gaining yardage in huge chunks.
Tagovailoa finished the half 14-for-19 for 201 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Achane has 117 rushing yards and a touchdown on five carries. Hill has five receptions for 102 yards.
Ogbah has 1.5 sacks, Sieler has a sack, and Apple, Wilkins, and Baker each have a half sack.
Third Quarter Reactions
Miami opened the half with the ball. They opened with a deep shot to Hill but could not connect. Tagovailoa then came back to find Wilson for six yards, setting up a 3rd-and-4 play. The Dolphins looked deep again, with Tagovailoa connecting with Hill for the 69-yard touchdown. Dolphins 24-10.
✌️— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) October 8, 2023
That felt like the Dolphins trying to prove Hill, who missed the final drive of the first half with muscle tightness, was still at full strength (and speed) and that this game was not as close as the seven-point margin seemed to suggest. Quick strike to get Miami back out to a double-digit lead.
The Giants started the possession with a six-yard run from Jones, followed by a six-yard pass from Jones to Waller. Breida gained three yards on a pass reception, followed by a one-yard run before Jones scrambled for 11 yards. The Dolphins defense decided that was enough as the Giants crossed midfield. Baker sacked Jones on first down, Gray was stopped after a three-yard carry, with the Giants luck to recover a fumble, on second down, and Jones threw incomplete on third down. The Giants punted.
Back to bend, but do not break. The defense can do better. Baker’s sack brings the Dolphins to five on the day.
After a holding penalty negated a 39-yard run by Raheem Mostert, Achane picked up 12 yards and moved Miami out to their own 29-yard line. Tagovailoa then threw to Hill for six before a pass for no gain to Berrios. Tagovailoa then floated a pass toward Waddle, but it was picked off and the Giants were set up with great field position.
That was just a horrible pass and decision from Tagovailoa. No excuse for that. He never had a chance at completing that pass. It was off target, floating, and just the wrong decision.
Starting at the Dolphins’ 23-yard line, the Giants were set up for a quick score and being able to pull themselves back into the contest. GRay lost a yard on the opening play, however. Breida was able to pick up eight before a holding penalty backed the Giants into a 3rd-and-13 play. Jones found Robinson for seven yards, but the Giants were forced to settle for a field goal. Dolphins 24-13.
Okay, defense. That was a great stand. There was no room for bending, so it was just a do not break situation, and they stepped up.
The Dolphins went run heavy on the possession, starting with an Achane run for eight yards. After a Tagovailoa pass to Achane for 14 yards, the Dolphins stuck to the ground attack. Mostert picked up 11 yards, then 23 yards. Achane added six yards and five yards. Mostert picked up six yards, then finished the drive with a two-yard score. Dolphins 31-13.
That was a perfect drive. It was power running, with the speed of the running backs coming out as soon as they broke through the line. It was effective, and, even with the team running the ball, they wre able to move down the field 75 yards on eight plays in 4:26. They are now over 200 yards rushing on the day, and, according to Brett Brecheisen from the Dolphins, they have broken the record for most yards of offense for any team in NFL history through five games of a season.
The @MiamiDolphins have now broken the NFL record for most total yards in the first five games of a season.— Brett Brecheisen (@bbrech) October 8, 2023
The record of 2,527 was held by the St. Louis Rams in 2000.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins defense held the Giants to a three-and-out, with a seven-yard pass to start the drive the only yardage gained. New York punted.
Time to start teeing off and adding to the sack total. Forced two incomplete passes here, but need sacks.
Achane picked up two yards, then one yard on the first two plays of the drive. An incomplete pass on third down led to Miami’s first punt of the game. Jake Bailey only kicked the ball 20 yards on the punt.
Ouch. That was a rough punt.
Jones was sacked by linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel on first down, with the quarterback shaken up and being replaced by Tyrod Taylor. Taylor threw to Waller for nine yards on his first play, then had to throw away the ball as Sieler began pulling him down. Taylor then scrambled for nine yards before Breida ran for four. Taylor then threw to Robinson for six yards, but the receiver was injured on the play and had to leave. Taylor looked deep to Waller, with safety Jevon Holland making a great pass breakup as he lept around the receiver. Gray ran for no yards before Sieler brought Taylor down for the team’s seventh sack on the day. The Giants settled for a field goal. Dolphins 31-16.
I refuse to have nightmares of Tyrod Taylor and the Bills versus Miami. Not going to happen. The defense needs to keep the pressure on him.
Miami started the drive with a Mostert run for five yards, then a pass to Hill for four yards. On 3rd-and-1, Waddle came back to catch the pass, but it led to a reception for no gain and a fourth down. Bailey came in to punt, a much better kick this time.
A three-and-out was not ideal there, but the Dolphins defense should be able to make up for it.
Christian Wilkins got pressure on Taylor on the first play and would have gotten a sack, but he was held, leading to a penalty for the Giants. Taylor then threw to wide receiver Parris Campbell for 17 yards, followed by another pass to Campbell for six more yards. On the resulting first down, the Giants were called for a false start, backing them into a 1st-and-15. After a pass for one yard to Gray, Taylor threw to Waller for a 15-yard gain and a first down for New York. Waller backed that up with a seven-yard reception to get out to midfield. An incomplete pass led to a 3rd-and-3 play with Gray picking up one yard on a run. Andrew Van Ginkel appeared to have a sack on the next play, but an illegal contact penalty on cornerback Xavien Howard gave the Giants a first down. Breida was stuffed on a run by defensive tackle Raekwon Davis and Chubb for a two-yard loss. Taylor then threw to Slayton who turned a short pass into a 20-yard gain, moving the ball down to the Miami 26-yard line. Taylor looked like he would be sacked on the second-down play, but he somehow escaped and turned it into a three-yard gain. Taylor was shaken up on the play as the clock reached the two-minute warning. Taylor stayed in the game and Breida ran for no gain after the break with Wilkins and linebacker David Long combining for the stop, leading to a 4th-and-3 play. Taylor scrambled for two yards on the play, turning the ball over to Miami.
Not exactly the quick stop the defense should have been able to make, but it was effective and the Dolphins should be able to kill the game here.
Runs from Mostert picked up one yard and three yards, leading to the Giants using their first two timeouts. On 3rd-and-6, Tagovailoa threw to Mostert for eight yards and a first down. Miami then knelt to end the game.