The Miami Dolphins had a chance to reclaim the lead in the race for the AFC’s number one seed in the NFL playoffs with a win against the four-win Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. After sitting multiple players due to nagging ailments, the team suffered a slew of new injuries during the contest — yet with roughly four minutes to play in the game, the Dolphins held a two touchdown lead over their opponent at home. A victory was nearly certain.
Until it wasn’t.
While playing under the lights at Hard Rock Stadium, the Dolphins allowed the visiting Titans and their rookie quarterback to march down the field on two consecutive drives to score fifteen unanswered points and snatch a win from the jaws of defeat — handing Miami a shocking and embarrassing loss on national television in front of the entire world.
It was a painful loss to endure — not just for the team, but for the entire success-starved fan base.
With only four games to go, the Dolphins now find themselves just two games ahead of the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East crown. Buffalo currently holds the tie-breaker due to their victory over Miami earlier this season — yet, the two teams still have a Week 18 matchup on tap. That game now looms large as one that could very well be the deciding factor on which team takes the division and earns a home playoff game in the process.
It was a heartbreaking night, but as we do after every Dolphins game, we now take a look back at the good, bad and ugly from Miami’s 28-27 collapse against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Dolphins rushing attack remains potent
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill suffered an ankle injury early on in Monday night’s game against the Titans when he was brought down with an illegal horse-collar tackle that was not flagged. As a result, Miami’s passing attack was a shell of what it normally is against Tennessee for most of the game and instead, they turned to their ground game to get things going.
As a team, the Dolphins rushed for 158 yards on 31 carries — a 5.1 yards per carry average.
Raheem Mostert tallied 96 yards on 21 carries. He scored twice.
De’Von Achane amassed 47 rushing yards on just seven carries.
Despite multiple injuries along their offensive line, the Dolphins ran the ball well against the Titans. If they can get some of their big men healthy and back on the field, Miami will have the opportunity to continue to commit to the ground game as they attempt to earn a playoff spot late in the year.
Miami’s decision makers sit multiple dinged up players; arrogance costs them as more injuries pile up
The Miami Dolphins have been extremely conservative with injuries this season — oftentimes sitting players who have practiced all week in the name of keeping those players “fresh” later on in the year.
On Monday, the team continued that trend by holding out starting left tackle Terron Armstead, starting right guard Robert Hunt and starting safety Jevon Holland despite the fact that all three of those players practiced throughout the week leading up to the game.
Well, the team’s hubris and blatant disrespect for their opponent came back to haunt them when a plethora of new injures befell the squad against the Titans.
Miami’s starting center Connor Williams was forced from the game with a knee injury. As a result, Miami’s right guard Liam Eichenberg moved to center and Robert Jones came into the contest to man the open guard spot. With the Dolphins already starting a reserve left guard in Lester Cotton and a backup left tackle in Kendall Lamm, Miami’s offensive line was down to just one healthy starter — right tackle Austin Jackson.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was pressured all game long behind the depleted unit, and was ultimately sacked five times.
In the secondary, with Jevon Holland sitting, the Dolphins were forced to turn to backup Brandon Jones — a player who is a liability in pass coverage. Unfortunately, his running-mate for the evening — DeShon Elliott — was injured against the Titans, leaving Miami to plug special teams player Elijah Campbell in with the starters late in the contest.
The Titans passing offense came to life and downed the Dolphins with two quick touchdown drives with the game in the balance.
Like the old saying goes...
If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.
Miami’s egregiously conservative nature with injuries came back to bite them in a big way against Tennessee. Mike McDaniel wants to save his banged-up players for potential playoff games in the near future, yet there won’t be any playoff games if they don’t win games now.
It’s time to take off the kiddie gloves and let football players be football players. If you want to have a meaningful playoff run, that is.
Dolphins give up multiple touchdown lead with roughly four minutes to play
A lot of people describe the Vic Fangio defensive scheme as a “bend, but don’t break” type of philosophy.
Late in Miami’s historically bad loss to the Titans on Monday Night Football, the Dolphins defense was bent, broken and left for dead by rookie quarterback Will Levis and future Hall of Fame wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Miami’s defense had no answer for the Titans’ offense and gave up scoring drives of 1:54 and :26 in length.
Sandwiched in between those two scoring drives was an opportunity for Miami to ice the victory by gaining a couple of first downs on offense while holding a six point lead. Instead, the unit went three-and-out without taking much time off the clock at all.
Still, even after the Titans scored the go-ahead touchdown, the Dolphins had the ball with 1:45 to go — needing just a field goal to reclaim the lead and win the game.
Inexplicably, the injured Tyreek Hill was back to field the Titans’ kickoff, yet didn’t take the field on offense for Miami’s first two plays in an attempt at a comeback. After just one first down, on the following series, Tagovailoa was sacked on a 4th down play which sealed the disgusting loss for the Dolphins on primetime.
Monday’s effort was not good enough. The blame can be placed on everyone from the coaches all the way down to the reserve players who weren’t up to snuff when it mattered most.
The Dolphins will need to regroup and play their best football through their final four games if they want to not only make the playoffs, but do some damage when they get there.
After what we witnessed last night, I’m not entirely sure they have it in them. We’ll see.
The Dolphins suffered an epic collapse against the Titans on Monday Night Football to fall a game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC crown. With four games left to play, they hold just a two game lead over a suddenly surging Buffalo Bills team. Do you think they’ll be able to regain their form and hold off the Bills for the division title? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!