The Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans faced off in a Monday Night Football meeting in South Florida as part of the conclusion to Week 14 of the 2023 NFL season. The Dolphins struggled throughout the game and the Titans handed them their first home loss this year.
Nothing seemed to go right for Miami on the night, with injuries, mistakes, missed opportunities, questionable refereeing, and poor execution jumping up to bite the Dolphins. Miami seemed to finally stand back up after the Titans smacked them in the mouth early in the game, eventually jumping out to a 14-point lead. But they let the Titans come back with two quick scores to pull into the lead late.
Miami did not play like themselves in this game, in part because of the injuries to offensive linemen and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. They could not get into rhythm, and they let the Titans hang around longer than they should have in the game. Giving a team hope like that allowed Tennessee to find the few plays they needed down the stretch and Miami did not have an answer.
It was a poor performance for Miami, and now they have a short week to find answers before the New York Jets are in South Florida next Sunday.
Titans 28 - 27 Dolphins
First Quarter Reactions
The defense came out firing. Linebacker David Long, Jr., stuffed Titans running back Derrick Henry for a one-yard loss on first down, then linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel read the screen pass perfectly to shut it down at the line of scrimmage. Cornerback Xavien Howard broke up the third-down pass and the Titans opened the game with a three-and-out.
Great defensive start. Concern with Howard rolling around on the field holding his hip after the third down play.
Miami started at their own 28-yard line, picking up 16 yards on the second play with a pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, but the receiver was injured on the play. Three plays later, after a 19-yard pass from Tagovailoa to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, center Connor Williams was injured on a nine-yard pass to tight end Durham Smythe. Running back Raheem Mostert picked up 22 yards on two runs to set up a 2nd-and-Goal from the Titans’ two-yard line, but the snap between Liam Eichenberg and Tagovailoa was muffed and the Titans recovered.
These injuries are starting to get ridiculous. The Dolphins defense needs to make a stand here after the turnover.
A false start, a two-yard run from Henry, and an incomplete pass set up a 3rd-and-11 from the Titans’ six-yard line. Quarterback Will Levis looked to throw a short pass, but defensive tackle Zach Sieler picked off the pass and returned it for the touchdown. Dolphins 7-0.
That would count as the defense making a stand. Nicely done by Sieler. And, as he went into the endzone, what was Levis thinking? A quarterback lowering his shoulder against a defensive tackle a yard after the goalline? Seems like a questionable decision. The good news was Howard was back on the field after the injury.
The Titans appeared to have a drive starting, moving from their 25-yard line out to the 42 before defensive tackle Christian Wilkins could record a seven-yard sack and end the possession. Tennessee punted.
The defense is getting after Levis right now.
Starting at their own 12-yard line, the Dolphins turned to the running game to get away from their goal line. Mostert picked up three yards on first down, then Achane added 15. After a pass to Waddle for 13 yards, Tagovailoa attempted a bubble screen to Hill, but the receiver was pulled down for a six-yard loss and was injured on the tackle. Waddle gained 15 yards on a pass on 2nd-and-16, with Mostert then converting for the first down. A holding penalty on Eichenberg negated a 15-yard run from Mostert, leading to a Miami punt three plays later as the clock moved into the second quarter.
Not the drive the Dolphins wanted. Eichenberg needs to settle down at center. The injury to Hill could be the game’s story if he cannot get back into the contest. It should have been a horse collar tackle, but it was not called.
Second Quarter Reactions
The Titans next possession ate up half the second-quarter clock, milking every second to keep the Dolphins offense off the field. Tennessee used multiple looks, including the Wildcat formation, to nickel-and-dime the yardage and keep moving forward. They did have a 22-yard pass from Levis to running back Tyjae Spears, but most of the plays were three-, four-, or five-yard gains. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on linebacker Bradley Chubb gave the Titans a free first down, moving them up to the Miami 12-yard line. They were systematic throughout the drive and found the endzone on a one-yard Wildcat run from Henry. Tied 7-7.
The Dolphins defense played reasonably well on the drive, but the Titans were willing to string small gains together. The Chubb penalty, he was frustrated by missing a sack and slammed his helmet on the ground, killed the drive from the defensive perspective.
Miami turned to the ground game on their next possession, running the ball on five of the eight plays, with Mostert picking up 18 yards on two carries, Achane adding 19 yards on two carries, and Tagovailoa picking up eight yards on a run. The nine-play, 46-yard drive ended with a blocked field goal attempt, however.
The Dolphins offense looks shell-shocked not to have Hill on the field. They are going to have to figure it out quickly.
After a trade of three-and-outs, the Titans got the ball back with 28 seconds remaining in the half. Levis went to the air, looking to put points on the board before the end of the half. A deep pass that fell into the arms of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins as he fell to the field picked up 44 yards, but the replays showed he pulled the arm of Howard, making the cornerback fall out of position and let the completion happen. After two incomplete passes toward Hopkins, with Howard making plays on the ball, the Titans settled for a field goal. Titans 10-7.
These referees are brutal. The non-calls are just miserable. Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott was injured on the long pass, adding another member of the team to the sidelines in a miserable first half for Miami.
The Dolphins offense has to figure out some things during the half. The offensive line has one starter still on the field. The lack of Hill hurts, but they should have enough weapons to make up for him not being in the game. The line has to give Tagovailoa more time to find his targets and the Dolphins need to get back to running the ball.
Injuries are the story of the game for Miami so far. This has been crazy.
And the referees need to do their job. How was a horse collar not called on the tackle of Hill? How was an offensive pass interference not called on Hopkins for pulling Howard to the ground?
The Dolphins get the ball to start the second half. Now they need to wake up and crush a drive for a touchdown.
Third Quarter Reactions
Miami opened the half with the ball and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, Jr., stepped up in the absence of Hill. In an 11-play, 77-yard drive, Wilson accounted for 30 yards receiving and drew a 17-yard pass interference. The drive stalled for Titans’ two-yard line, however, and Miami settled for a field goal. Tied 10-10.
That was the drive Miami needed coming out of the halftime break. They got the running game going, with Mostert picking up 16 yards and Achane adding three rushing yards and an 11-yard reception. Wilson stepping up could be huge down the stretch with Hill on the sideline.
The Dolphins defense stepped up again on the Titans’ first possession of the second half, giving up a first down on a 3rd-and-5 play, but then ending the drive on the next three plays. Tennessee punted.
The defense looks like they are trying to stifle the Titans’ dink-and-dunk possession offense. Can they keep it up for the entire second half?
Hill returned for the Dolphins on the next possession, but after a six-yard pass to Waddle on first down, two incomplete passes led to a three-and-out possession.
That will not cut it for the Dolphins offense, which has yet to score tonight, but at least Hill is back. Is he just a decoy now, or will he return to the action?
Tennessee again looked to control the clock with their offense, starting with running plays from Henry and Spears. After an incomplete pass and a false start penalty, the Titans faced a 2nd-and-15, but converted the first down on a 17-yard pass from Levis to Henry on the sideline. Three plays later, on a 3rd-and-6, Levis found Spears down the right side of the field for a 30-yard gain, setting up a 1st-and-Goal from the Miami six-yard line. Henry picked up one yard on the first down play, but the Titans would settle for a field goal. Titans 13-10.
The defense again looked like they would be able to shut down the Titans’ dink-and-dunk, but the 30-yard pass came out of nowhere. The Titans are doing just enough to be annoying in this game, but the Dolphins are not doing anything to put them away.
A 23-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Hill ended the quarter.
Fourth Quarter Reaction
After the break, motion from Hill drew the Titans into a false start penalty, then Tagovailoa avoided the pressure and found fullback Alec Ingold for a 13-yard gain. Tagovailoa then threw to Hill for 25 yards, moving the ball to the Titans six-yard line. After a three-yard scramble from Tagovailoa and an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa slipped on third down, leading to a sack and Miami settled for a tying field goal. Tied 13-13.
Tagovailoa’s scramble ended with a hit to the quarterback’s head, with everyone holding their breath for a second after the concussion issues from last year. But, Tagovailoa bounced right up after the tackle. Hill is definitely back to being a part of the offense. The slip by Tagovailoa on third down was strange, with him just seeming to miss the ground entirely— weird play.
A penalty on Dolphins long snapper Blake Ferguson after the field goal and an illegal formation on Miami on the kickoff set up the Titans at their 46-yard line. An incomplete pass, a one-yard loss by Henry, and a six-yard pass to tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo led to a punt on the three-and-out possession.
Miami’s defense stepped up after the Titans started with good field position.
Mostert started Miami’s drive with two runs for 13 yards. After a pass to Achane for no gain, Miami was forced to call timeout as the play clock ran down. A 15-yard gain on a pass from Tagovailoa to Waddle was followed by a holding penalty, backing Miami into a 1st-and-20. An incomplete pass, a gain of 14 on a pass to Waddle, and a sack led to a Miami punt...
But the return was muffed and Dolphins safety Elijah Campbell recovered the loose ball at the Titans seven-yard line. Two Mostert runs later and the Dolphins scored their first offensive points of the game. Dolphins 20-13.
After everything that has gone wrong in this game, it is nice that something finally went Miami’s way.
The first play after the touchdown saw Levis try to pitch the ball to Henry, but the throw was too high and Chubb recovered the fumble at the Titans’ 11-yard line.
FINALLY! This has been a rough game for the Dolphins, but they finally had things go their way as the Titans imploded and Miami capitalized.
A Mostert run for three yards, followed by an offside penalty on the Titans, moved the ball to the Titans’ five-yard line. Mostert punched it in again, extending Miami’s lead. Dolphins 27-13.
The Dolphins have gotten lucky, there’s no doubting that, but that is just evening out the bad luck they had in the first half, especially with the injuries.
The Titans, trailing by 14, went into a hurry up on their possession. Levis found Hopkins for six yards, but followed that with an incomplete pass. Two Levis passes picked up 19 yards, but a false start penalty followed an incomplete pass and set up a 2nd-and-15 from the 50-yard line. Spears took a screen pass for 21 yards and a first down, getting out of bounds at the Miami 34-yard line. A check down pass to Spears picked up eight yards, with Chubb just missing a swipe at the pass. A deep pass for 23 yards set Tennessee at the Miami three-yard line, leading to a pass to Hopkins for the touchdown. The Titans then converted the two-point conversion. Dolphins 27-21.
Miami went into a prevent shell defense, and the Titans ate them up. The two-point conversion gives the Titans a path to win the game with a touchdown and the extra point. With 2:40 remaining in the game, Miami’s offense has to kill this clock.
A three-and-out possession did not kill the clock for the Dolphins.
Tennessee stepped up on defense, used their timeouts correctly, and Miami could not convert. Rough.
The Titans started with the ball at their own 36-yard line. Miami failed to cover Hopkins on a crossing route and the Titans immediately flipped the field with a 36-yard gain. A pass to Okonkwo for 15-yards suddenly moved to the Titans to the Dolphins’ 13-yard line as the clock reached the two-minute warning. Spears ran for seven yards, with Miami calling a timeout, their last of the game. On 2nd-and-3, the Dolphins were called for delay of game with a sudden movement, pushing the Titans closer to the goal like. Henry then scored on a four-yard touchdown run. Titans 28-27.
Are you serious? The Dolphins defense gave up huge chunks. Still trying to figure out that penalty call, but Miami should not have let that happen. Now they have 1:49 remaining to try to win.
The Dolphins threw to Berrios for seven yards, then to Achange for four yards. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa found Smythe for a seven-yard gain. On 3rd-and-3, Tagovailoa threw a screen to Achane, who picked up a yard but was ruled to still be in bounds with the clock running. Miami hurried into a play, but Tagovailoa was sacked and the Titans took over on downs, kneeling to kill the clock.
Just ugly all night for Miami.