Well, at least Howell was the league leader in passing yards before Miami’s monstrous defense took the field and limited the young gunslinger to just 127 yards through the air. Rookie quarterback of the Houston Texans, C.J. Stroud, now sits atop the stat sheets, with Miami’s own Tua Tagovailoa currently in third place — just nine yards behind Howell.
Speaking of Tagovailoa, he and wide receiver Tyreek Hill had themselves fantastic days against the porous Washington secondary. More on those two in a moment.
Yes, it was a joyous victory for Dolphins fans across the country. Miami now sits at 9-3, tied for the best record in the AFC. They also have a three game lead on the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East division crown as Buffalo was on a BYE in week 13.
Because the victory was such a dominating one, we’re going to focus mainly on the positives from this contest, so we’ll be picking a “good,” a “great” and touching on just one “ugly” aspect of Miami’s 45-15 win over Washington. Let’s get started!
Offense regains form; plays turnover-free game
The Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa had been a little careless with the football over the past few weeks — turning the ball over three times in each of their past two games.
On Sunday against the Commanders, the Dolphins finally played a turnover-free game — keeping the ball away from the Washington offense while putting up big numbers and a large amount of points on the scoreboard.
Tagovailoa completed 18 of 24 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game with a rating of 141.0. His most lethal weapon, Tyreek Hill had himself a monster game as well — nabbing five balls for 157 yards and two long receiving scores. Hill now has 1,481 receiving yards this year. He needs just 519 to reach his remarkable goal of 2,000 yards for the entire season. If he averages 104 yards receiving over Miami’s final five games, he will accomplish the feat.
Miami’s dynamic rookie running back De’Von Achane returned to the field after a one game absence due to his most recent knee injury. What did he do with his opportunities? Oh, just a ho-hum 17 carries for 73 yards and two touchdowns while tacking on three receptions for 30 yards through the air.
Miami’s offense did exactly what they were supposed to do against Washington. Let’s hope their dominance continues as we progress through the later stages of the 2023 season.
Miami’s defense stifles potent passing attack
The Miami Dolphins’ defense came to play against Sam Howell and the Washington Commanders on Sunday.
As mentioned above, Howell came into week 13 as the NFL’s passing yardage king. However, Xavien Howard, Jalen Ramsey, Kader Kohou and company limited Washington’s young signal-caller to just 127 yards through the air. It was Howell’s worst yardage output this season and the first time he threw for less than 250 yards since week 7 against the New York Giants.
In addition to Howell’s low numbers, Washington’s star receiver Terry McLaurin was held catchless throughout the entire contest. Commenting on his goose egg of a performance against Miami after the game, the receiver said, “I ran a lot of cardio today.”
Dolphins lose another important defender to injury
Last week, the Miami Dolphins unfortunately lost one of their best defenders for the season when linebacker Jaelan Phillips tore his Achilles tendon against the New York Jets on Black Friday.
This week, it was another starting linebacker — this time Jerome Baker — who left early with a knee injury after his own teammate, safety Brandon Jones, came sliding in during a tackle attempt on a deep pass with Baker in coverage.
It looked like a gruesome injury — one significant enough to possibly require surgery and keep Baker out for the remainder of the season — however, after the game concluded, Miami’s head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters that the “vibe” was that Baker did not sustain a season-ending injury.
To further fuel the optimism, Baker himself updated his injury status on social media following the victory.
Dolphins win! Don't worry about me. I'll be back sooner than you think.— Jerome Baker Jr. (@Lastname_Baker) December 3, 2023
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that Baker will be able to return to play sooner rather than later. In the meantime, veteran linebacker Duke Riley will fill his role as he did for the remainder of Miami’s win over Washington.
The Dolphins took care of business on both sides of the ball against the Washington Commanders on Sunday. Against another inferior opponent — albeit one that has put up big numbers on offense at times this season — Miami looked like a real championship contender. Do you think they’ll be able to carry this momentum into their final five regular season games and come away with the number one seed in the AFC? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!