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Dolphins vs. Commanders final score, immediate reactions: Miami all-around domination

The Miami Dolphins dominated the Washington Commanders in Week 13 to improve to 9-3 on the season.

Miami Dolphins v Washington Commanders Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins improved to 9-3 for the 2023 season with an emphatic win over the Washington Commanders in Week 13. The Dolphins smacked the Commanders early in the game with a 78-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to wide receiver Tyreek Hill and never let up in route to another blow out win.

The defense was led by linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, who moved into a starting outside linebacker role, over his prior use as a rotational inside linebacker, following last week’s injury to Jaelan Phillips. Van Ginkel was flying all over the defense, disrupting passing plays, making stops against the run, nearly blocking a punt, and recording a pick six. He set the standard for the defense on the day, and they rose to the challenge.

The game was essentially over in the first quarter, with the Dolphins up 17-0.

The Dolphins cruised to another victory and pushed themselves out to a three-game lead in the AFC East and, at least temporarily, back into the top spot in the AFC playoff picture. At 9-3, they are tied with the Baltimore Ravens, who are on their bye. The Dolphins jump over the Ravens based on a better record against AFC opponents. The Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars are still scheduled to play this weekend. A win by either or both teams would replace Miami in the number one spot.

The downside for Miami in Week 13 was on the injury front. Linebacker Jerome Baker appeared to sustain a serious knee injury during the game and offensive linemen Terron Armstead and Robert Hunt both left the game with injuries.

Final Score

Dolphins 45 - 15 Commanders

First Quarter Reactions

The Dolphins won the toss and deferred. The Commanders found some success through the air early, including a 12-yard pass from quarterback Sam Howell to wide receiver Jahan Dotson on the sideline and a five-yard throw to wide receiver Curtis Samuel. A nine-yard run from running back Antonio Gibson kept the drive alive for another set of downs, but the defense stiffened and the Commanders were forced to punt after an eight-play, 30-yard drive.

A little rough for the defense’s start, but the 12-yard pass was a great catch on the sideline and they were able to find their rhythm fairly quickly. Andrew Van Ginkel started at outside linebacker in place of the injured Jaelan Phillips and Brandon Jones replaced Jevon Holland as the starting safety. The third-down play to end the drive was interesting for the Dolphins defense, which came up with an amoeba look with everyone standing along the line of scrimmage, very similar to the looks Brian Flores and Josh Boyer in the previous defensive scheme would use.

Miami started at their own 14 after the punt, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa finding wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for five yards on an outlet pass. After running back Raheem Mostert ran for three yards, bringing up a 3rd-and-2, Tagovailoa looked deep to wide receiver Tyreek Hill for the 78-yard touchdown. Dolphins 7-0.

That will work for a start for the offense. The touchdown play brings Hill to under 600 yards to 2,000 on the year.

The Commanders’ drive lasted three plays and lost four yards thanks to a great play from linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, who got to Howell, then linebacker Bradley Chubb and defensive tackle Zach Sieler cleaned it up for the sack. The Commanders punted.

Much better from the defense. That should have been AVG’s sack, though.

Miami’s second possession was less effective than the first drive, but it extended their lead. The eight-play drive was highlighted by a 16-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Waddle, a 12-yard rush from Mostert, and a 12-yard pass to Waddle. Miami had to settle for a field goal, with kicker Jason Sanders connecting from 49-yards, to extend the lead to 10. Dolphins 10-0.

The Dolphins’ offense missed on a couple of plays, including on the first play when Hill was open in the flat, but the receiver slipped as the pass was thrown.

After the score, the defense came out and took it to the Commanders again. Two runs for seven yards was followed by an incomplete pass and Washington again punted on a three-and-out drive.

The defense is looking to end this game early. They are flying to the ball and they are making stops.

Miami began with the ball at their own 19-yard line after the punt, and things went badly. An incomplete pass on first down was followed by a seven-yard loss on a run by rookie running back De’Von Achane. On 3rd-and-17, Miami tried a screen pass to Hill, but the receiver lost six yards. Miami punted from their own endzone with the three-and-out.

Bad possession, but no harm as punter Jake Bailey connected for a 46-yard kick and the Commanders were called for holding, adding 10 more yards.

On first down, Howell looked right for Dotson, but Van Ginkel picked off the pass and returned it 33-yards for the touchdown. Dolphins 17-0.

This is Andrew Van Ginkel’s world and we are all just living in it.

The Commanders picked up 15 yards on two Robinson runs to start the drive, bringing the clock to the end of the first quarter.

Second Quarter Reactions

The quarter started with a sack from linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah, but Robinson broke free for a 29 yard gain on the next play. A couple of plays later, Howell found wide receiver Curtis Samuel deep down the right sideline for a 33-yard gain. After two run attempts, Howell scored on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line. Dolphins 17-7.

The story of the drive will be the injury to linebacker Jerome Baker on the 33-yard pass. As Baker looked to chase down Samuel, safety Brandon Jones came in to make a hit and landed on Baker, bending the linebacker’s knee sideways. It did not look good on replays and he had to be helped to the locker room.

Miami’s offense got back into rhythm on their next possession. Mostert picked up six yards on first down, then Hill ran an end-around for six more yards. Three plays later, the Commanders blitzed so Tagovailoa laid up a deep ball for Hill, who caught it and ran in for the 60-yard touchdown. Dolphins 24-7.

The Dolphins’ offense versus the Dolphins defense for which unit is better may be the biggest competition in this game. At least for the first half.

Washington looked to spark their offense as the clock moved toward the mid-way point of the second quarter. Howell was forced to scramble for four yards on the drive’s first play, just avoiding a couple of near sacks before turning upfield. Two plays, and a timeout, later, Washington gained 25 yards on a deep pass from Howell as he was flushed from the pocket to Samuel on the scramble drill. A sack two plays later by linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah was followed by Duke Riley, replacing the injured Baker, reading a screen pass perfectly and blowing up the play. The Commanders punted.

Miami is simply taking it to the Commanders in every aspect right now. Van Ginkel missed blocking the punt by centimeters. This is all Dolphins right now.

The Dolphins offense came out looking to run some clock and sustain a possession rather than going for the explosive play on the drive. Mostert ran the ball on the first three plays, gaining 15 yards, with Achane adding five yards on the fourth play. After a 20-yard pass to Hill to convert on 3rd-and-6, Achane gained three yards and took the clock to the two-minute warning. From the Commanders’ 34-yard line, Tagovailoa looked deep toward Waddle, with a defensive pass interference penalty moving Miami to the Washington 18-yard line with a first down. An end-around with Hill, featuring Dolphins players running each direction, was stopped for a 10-yard loss before Mostert ran for eight yards. On 3rd-and-12, Tagovailoa was nearly sacked, but he stepped up and found Waddle for 16 yards. Three plays later, Mostert punched the ball into the endzone on a two-yard run. Dolphins 31-7.

Miami’s drives have been 86 yards in three plays for a touchdown, 39 yards in eight plays for a field goal, -13 yards on three plays for a punt, 75 yards in five plays for a touchdown, and 76 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. The offense has shown both their explosive attack and their ability to sustain a drive.

After a first down pass attempt fell incomplete, the Commanders ran the ball and killed the first-half clock.

Halftime Reactions

Halftime reactions today are really simple. The only real concern are injuries.

Everything is working for Miami right now. Van Ginkel is the star of the game on defense while Tagovailoa and Hill have dominated on offense. Miami is doing just about whatever they want and the Commanders do not have an answer.

Tagovailoa has 215 yards and a perfect passer rating. Hill has 152 receiving yards. Mostert has 35 yards on nine carries with a touchdown. The offense has imposed its will...

And Miami gets the ball to start the second half.

Third Quarter Reactions

Miami opened the second half with the ball at their own 25-yard line. Mostert began the drive with two runs for eight yards, before a Tagovailoa pass to Hill for five yards converted the first down. Tagovailoa then threw the ball to Achane on a wheel route, with the rookie turning it into a 21-yard gain. The next four plays included a run from Achane and three passes, one to wide receiver River Cracraft, one to Waddle, and one to tight end Julian Hill, brought up 1st-and-Goal at the Commanders’ four-yard line. Achane punched it in for the score from the four-yard line on the next play. Dolphins 38-7.

Miami did not lose any rhythm over the halftime break. Tagovailoa is definitely looking to reassert himself in the MVP discussion.

The Commanders began their opening drive of the second half at their own 25-yard line. Gibson started the drive with a rush for six yards before working free on a scramble drill for a 32-yard reception. After a couple of short runs, Howell threw to Dotson for 11 yards. An incomplete pass, a short run, and a short pass reception led to a 4th-and-3 attempt from the Miami 13-yard line. Howell was nearly sacked twice on the play, but somehow managed to weave through the Miami defense to find the endzone. A pass to tight end Logan Thomas converted on the two-point attempt. Dolphins 38-15.

The offense did not lose rhythm, but the defense gave up a little too much there. A couple of sacks instead of near sacks would have changed the possession.

A second run for six yards followed an Achane run for eight yards, but a holding penalty backed up the Dolphins and brought up 2nd-and-12. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa threw deep to Hill, but the receiver could only get one foot down and Miami had to punt.

The holding penalty stalled out what could have been another sustained drive for Miami, continuing to eat time off the clock. Now the defense needs to step up before this becomes a tighter game than it should be.

Washington picked up six yards on the first play of the possession, with Howell throwing to Gibson. A couple of plays later, rookie running back Chris Rodriguez, Jr., rushed for 15 yards on a 3rd-and-3 play. An incomplete pass and a Gibson run for no gain ended the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter Reactions

A two-yard run started the quarter for the Commanders, but they would miss the field goal on 4th-and-8 from the Dolphins 35-yard line.

It was not the complete shut-down defensive stop that Miami had earlier in the game, but they limited the drive to seven plays for 35 yards and gave the offense the ball back at their own 43-yard line. Need a couple more sacks down the stretch.

Miami’s possession started with a seven-yard run from Achane, then Tagovailoa threw to Hill for five yards. Two Achane runs for a combine five yards, then an incomplete pass, led to a Miami punt.

The Dolphins are clearly throttling down and simply looking to run clock at this point.

After a perfectly covered punt, with Elijah Campbell downing the ball at the six-yard line, the Commanders began the drive with an incomplete pass before Gibson ran for nine yards. A two-yard loss by Rodriguez led to a punt.

The defense did their job and got the ball back without giving up anything.

Miami pulled their starters, including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa being replaced by Mike White. Getting the ball at their own 41-yard line after the punt, the Dolphins fan the ball seven straight times with Achane, gaining 41 yards. Jeff Wilson, Jr., took over at running back after that, picking up 11 yards on four consecutive runs. Achane checked back in, picking up two yards on a run. White then tossed the ball to River Cracraft as he came in motion, gaining three yards on the pop-pass. After the two-minute warning, Miami, on a 4th-and-Goal from the two-yard line, tossed to Achane who scored on a run to the left. Dolphins 45-15.

Even with their backups in, Miami continued to smack the Commanders in the mouth. Achane getting an extended opportunity late in the game, allowing him to get back into rhythm and showing he can be the lead back when Miami needs to kill the clock, is an important piece in Miami getting ready for the playoff run.

The Commanders pulled their starters after the kickoff, with Howell coming out and former Dolphins quarterback Jacoby Brissett taking over. Three straight Rodriguez runs ended the game.

Strong performance all around for Miami. Now on to Monday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans in Week 14.