The Miami Dolphins took it to the Denver Broncos in Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season, coming away with a historic victory. The Dolphins finished the game with the second-most points and second-most offensive yardage in NFL history, simply beating down the Broncos from the moment the ball was kicked off.
The Dolphins move to 3-0 on the year, with the Broncos dropping to 0-3. Miami turns around to face their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills, in what should be the game of the week next weekend.
Broncos 20 - 70 Dolphins
Immediate Reactions - Final
I have no idea how to even start to react to this game. I would never have thought Miami would put up 70 points in a game. I never thought Miami would win a game by 50 points. This game was just insanity.
Just to demonstrate how crazy this game was, here are Miami’s possessions:
3 plays, 75 yards, 1:23 - Touchdown
9 plays, 81 yards, 5:33 - Touchdown
11 plays, 75 yards, 5:56 - Touchdown
4 plays, 9 yards, 1:49 - Turn over on downs
6 plays, 86 yards, 1:20 - Touchdown
1 play, 3 yards, 0:04 - Touchdown
1 play, 6 yards, 0:03 - Half
11 plays, 90 yards, 4:29 - Touchdown
9 plays, 77 yards, 4:44 - Touchdown
2 plays, 8 yards, 0:20 - Touchdown
3 plays, 8 yards, 1:58 - Punt
3 plays, 68 yards, 1:23 - Touchdown
2 plays, 75 yards, 0:49 - Touchdown
6 plays, 51 yards, 3:30 - Turnover on downs
Just in case that was not enough to show how ridiculous this offense was on Sunday, here are the final stats for the players:
Tua Tagovailoa - 23/26, 309 yards, 11.9 ypa, 4 touchdowns, 155.8 rating
Mike White - 2/2, 67 yards, 33.5 ypa, 1 touchdown, 158.3 rating
De’Von Achane - 18 carries, 203 yards, 11.3 ypc, 2 touchdowns, 4 receptions, 30 yards, 7.5 ypc, 2 touchdowns
Raheem Mostert - 13 carries, 82 yards, 6.3 ypc, 3 touchdowns, 7 receptions, 60 yards, 8.6 yps, 1 touchdown
Chris Brooks - 9 carries, 66 yards, 7.3 avg
Tyreek Hill - 9 receptions, 157 yards, 17.4 ypc, 1 touchdowns
Robbie Chosen - 1 reception, 68 yards, 68.0 ypc, 1 touchdown
Braxton Berrios - 2 receptions, 33 yards, 16.5 ypc
Durham Smythe - 1 reception, 15 yards, 15.0 ypc
River Cracraft - 1 reception, 13 yards, 13.0 ypc
The Dolphins recorded 726 yards of offense, the second most in a regular season game in NFL history, and 70 point scored, also the second most in a regular season game in NFL history. They could have set both records, but chose not to push it. They averaged 10.2 yards per play. They had 376 passing yards and 350 rushing yards.
There really is not a lot to say about this in terms of immediate reactions. This was just a party from the opening kickoff through to the final whistle.
First Quarter Reactions
Miami started with the ball after the Broncos won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The drive started at the 25-yard line with a rush from running back Raheem Mostert, picking up six yards. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa then threw to tight end Durham Smythe, picking up 15 yards. From the Dolphins’ 46-yard line, Tagovailoa dropped back, scanned the field, waited for a beat, then found wide receiver Tyreek Hill deep to the right. The two connected, and Hill took the ball for the score the rest of the way. Three plays, 1:23 in possession time, and 75 yards for the score. Dolphins 7-0.
That is a better start than I imagined. Miami is up early, and now they need to keep pouring on the points. What a gorgeous start.
The Broncos opened with a two-yard run from running back Javonte Williams, followed by a three-yard run from wide receiver Marvin Mims, Jr. On third down, the Broncos looked down the left sideline, looking for wide receiver Courtland Sutton, but the referees ruled he was out of bounds, a decision that may have been overturned if the Broncos challenged, but they settled for the three-and-out punt.
Great defensive stand. Defensive lineman Zach Sieler and linebacker Jerome Baker converged for the first tackle, then cornerback Kader Kohou made the second tackle. Kohou also had good coverage on the third-down pass attempt.
Miami began at their own 19-yard line after the punt, with Mostert picking up 15 yards on a run to the left. Mostert then picked up five yards on a reception as Tagovailoa checked down to him. Rookie running back De’Von Achane picked up 26 yards, broke through tackles on the offense’s left side, and turned upfield. Tagovailoa then threw to Mostert for another nine yards before Achane picked up another four. Miami stuck with the running backs on the next pass, with Tagovailoa again finding Mostert, this time for three yards. Tagovailoa went to Hill next for an eight-yard gain and a first down at the Broncos’ 11-yard line. Achane took the next two carries, picking up three yards before finishing the drive with an eight-yard score, his first career touchdown. Dolphins 14-0.
This offense is coming out firing today and the Broncos have to adjust to something. They cannot tackle the Dolphins right now and Miami is making them pay for it.
The Broncos started at their own 25-yard line following the touchback. Quarterback Russell Wilson found Jerry Jeudy deep on the first play, picking up 15 yards. He followed that with an 11-yard pass to Sutton. Williams then picked up 20 yards on the next two plays, three on the ground then 17 on a catch. Running back Samaje Perine picked up three yards before Wilson again found Sutton for six yards. Williams added eight yards on two straight runs. After an incomplete pass on 2nd-and-6 from the Miami 12-yard line, Wilson rolled to his right and find Sutton sliding across the back of the endzone for the score. Dolphins 14-7.
Miami struggled a little there. The touchdown was a nice scramble drill, with Sutton running a route to the left, but seeing Wilson roll to the right, so Sutton flipped around, losing cornerback Xavien Howard in the process. Miami needs to tighten up a little to make sure this is a one-off drive.
Mostert started the drive with a six-yard loss as he got bounced outside and could not find a way back forward. Tagovailoa then threw to Hill, who picked up 19 yards and gave Miami a first down. A penalty on the Broncos changed the down to 1st-and-5 as the first quarter ended.
This is a great first period for the Dolphins, even with allowing the score by the Broncos. Now need a score here to keep the momentum into the second period.
Second Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins started the second quarter with a 17-yard run from Mostert, then appeared to have another 17-yard gain on a pass from Tagovailoa to Hill, but a holding penalty on center Connor Williams negated the play and moved Miami back into a 1st-and-20. Mostert picked up 16 yards on two straight runs before the Dolphins faced a 3rd-and-4, with Tagovailoa throwing short to wide receiver Braxton Berrios for an 11-yard gain and a first down. Achane then appeared to have a 23-yard touchdown run, but another Connor Williams hold negated the play. Tagovailoa then threw to Hill for 11 yards before the Achane train started again. Achane ran for 10 yards, then five yards, then Miami ran a fake end-around to Hill, with Tagovailoa no-look pitching the ball forward to Achane who scored from four yards out. Dolphins 21-7.
That was a solid drive from Miami, making up for the holding penalties that had been the death knell last year. Achane is coming in hard today. Just a great three-for-three on drives to start this game for Miami.
The Broncos began the drive with a Wilson pass to tight end Nate Adkins for 11 yards, followed by an incomplete pass. Javonte Williams then ran up the middle for 16 yards, followed by Wilson finding Mims for a 38-yard gain deep down the middle. Set at the Miami 10-yard line, the Broncos had an incomplete pass, followed by a three-yard run from Perine, a touchdown nullifying offensive pass interference penalty, and a four-yard run to lead to a field goal. Dolphins 21-10.
The Dolphins defense held here, but they also gave up some big plays. The pass interference call saved them from giving up the touchdown. Once again, the defense needs to tighten up a little here.
Miami opened at their 25-yard line, with Achane picking up eight yards on a run. He then added another one-yard run before a direct snap to fullback Alec Ingold was stopped for no gain and Miami facing a 4th-and-inches play. Choosing to go for it, the Dolphins turned over the ball at their own 33 yard line as Ingold was stopped for the second straight play with no gain.
Ouch. Not loving the decision there. The defense needs to step up hard here.
The Broncos were called for a false start on the first play, backing them up to the Miami 38-yard line. Wilson threw to Sutton on the 1st-and-15 play, with linebacker Jerome Baker shutting it down after one yard. Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel then stopped Williams for a three-yard loss. After an incomplete pass, the Broncos were forced to punt despite starting deep in Miami territory.
That was exactly what the defense needed to do. That was perfectly done. They kept the Broncos from even being able to try a field goal. Still do not like the fourth-down try by Miami, but the defense made it not matter.
Starting at their own 14-yard line, Miami opened up the drive with a 15-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Hill. After a Mostert run for eight yards, Tagovailoa went back to Hill for another 15 yards - the play looked like it was going for 60 yards after Hill was spun over the defender and not tackled, but a review showed the receiver’s knee did touch on the spin. Tagovailoa then threw to wide receiver River Cracraft for a 13-yard gain as the clock reached the two-minute warning. Mostert picked up nine yards on the first down play, then a penalty for a neutral zone infraction on the Broncos gave Miami a first down at the Denver 20-yard line. Mostert took the carry up the middle for the 20-yard touchdown. Dolphins 28-10.
This is so much fun. Just Miami doing whatever they want on offense right now (other than the fourth down conversion).
The Broncos started with an incomplete pass, then Wilson found Sutton for five yards, but the receiver fumbled as safety Jevon Holland came in for the tackle, with Van Ginkel scooping up the ball and returning it to the Broncos three-yard line.
The Broncos are starting to press to try to keep up with the Dolphins, and the mistakes are coming. This is exactly what Miami needs. Now the defense needs to up the pressure on Wilson.
Miami scored on a three-yard run from Mostert. Dolphins 35-10.
Exactly what should have happened. Make the Broncos pay as soon as the turnover happened.
The Broncos started back at their 25 after the touchback, beginning the drive with a Wilson pass to Perine for eight yards. Wilson then threw deep to Sutton for 20 yards, with a replay confirming the catch essentially giving the Broncos a free timeout. Now in Miami territory at the 47-yard line, Wilson threw to Sutton for 11 yards, followed by an incomplete pass toward Mims with safety DeShon Elliott just missing coming away with the interception. Mims was left wide open on a short crossing route on the next play, turning it into a 30-yard gain and setting the Broncos up at the Miami six-yard line. An illegal shift penalty nullified an apparent touchdown, backing the Broncos to the 11-yard line. Wilson found Perine for a seven-yard gain on the next play, followed by an incomplete pass as the Dolphins’ pass rush neared Wilson. On 3rd-and-Goal from the four-yard line, Wilson threw to Jeudy on a bubble screen with cornerback Justin Bethel tackling the receiver for a three-yard loss. The Broncos settled for a field goal. Dolphins 35-13.
The Dolphins defense gave up a little too much on this drive, especially with the 30-yard gain from Mims with no one covering him, but trading touchdowns for field goals is fine.
Miami ran the ball with Achane for six yards to end the half.
Miami’s offense is on fire right now. Not many teams can keep up with them if they are firing on all cylinders like they are today - and they do not even have Jaylen Waddle today. This is just fun to watch.
Tua Tagovailoa is 16-for-16 for 206 yards with an average of 12.9 yards per attempt and two touchdowns in the half. He has a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
Tyreek Hill has six receptions for 122 yards and a score so far.
Rookie De’Von Achane is leading the Miami ground game with 10 carriers for 74 yards with a score, while starter Raheem Mostert has seven carries for 64 yards and two scores. Mostert also has six receptions for 41 yards.
The defense needs to step up some more. They have given up 228 yards already this year, with a 6.9 yards-per-play average in the first half. They have given up 193 yards through the air. They are stopping the run, giving up just 35 yards so far, and that will likely stay low as the Broncos continue to try to throw to get back into the game. If the defense can start turning quarterback pressure into sacks, they will take that next step in shutting down the Broncos.
Third Quarter Reactions
The Broncos started the second half with the ball and a 12-yard gain on a Wilson pass to Jeudy who turned a short crossing route up-field for the first down. Williams then picked up nine yards on the ground. The Broncos tried to convert the first down with back-to-back runs, but the first was stoppped by a two-yard tackle for a loss from Bethel, then linebackers David Long, Jr., and Jerome Baker met in the backfield for a three-yard tackle for a loss. The Broncos were forced to punt.
Good opening stop for the defense. That tackle from Long and Baker was nasty.
Mostert picked up six yards on the first down for Miami, then another one yard on the second-down run. Tagovailoa then threw to Hill for nine yards before Mostert came back with another seven-yard run. On 2nd-and-3 with 9:44 remaining in the third quarter, Tagovailoa threw his first incomplete pass of the day, with the pass coming up just short of Hill. Tagovailoa bounced back with a 22-yard pass to Berrios over the middle of the field. Achane then took a simple left-end run and turned it into a 40-yard gain. Tagovailoa then threw incomplete targeting rookie tight end Julian Hill, followed by an Achane run for four yards. After Hill just missed a touchdown catch, Miami went for it on 4th-and-Goal from the one-yard line, with Mostert punching it in for his third score of the game. Dolphins 42-13.
Another solid drive from Miami. It felt like a very deliberate, time-consuming drive by the Dolphins offense, and it still was a 90-yard drive with just 4:29 in time of possession. They have now scored touchdowns on six of their seven possessions. Too bad Tagovailoa did not reach the 18-for-18 mark to tie Ryan Tannehill’s franchise record for completions to start a game, with his first incomplete passes coming on the 18th pass attempt.
The Broncos came out firing, with Wilson throwing for 11 yards to Jeudy, but following that with an incomplete pass. After a four-yard run from Williams, Wilson threw to Brandon Johnson for eight yards. An incomplete pass was followed by another Williams run for four yards. Wilson then found Sutton for 29 yards, with the receiver making a spin move around Holland, but the safety recovered and punched the ball loose. Kohou recovered the ball to give Miami the ball back.
Again, the Broncos are pressing and Miami is making them pay for every mistake.
Starting at their own 23, the Dolphins looked like they would try to slow it down a little, using more clock. Achane picked up seven yards on the ground, then Tagovailoa threw a short pass to him, but it turned into a 17 yard gain. Achane picked up another two yards on a run, with the Broncos penalized for unnecessary roughness to give Miami a free 15 yards. An Achane run for 12 yards was then negated by an illegal peel-back block by Dolphins center Liam Eichenberg, who replaced an injured Connor Williams on the drive. Tagovailoa found Hill for seven yards, then again for 19 yards. Two runs from Mostert lost one yard, then gained four to set up 3rd-and-7 from the Broncos 19-yard line. Tagovailoa threw a short pass to Mostert to the left, with the running back staying in bounds and cutting down the sideline for the score. Dolphins 49-13.
So much for eating up clock. That 77-yard drive took 4:44.
The Broncos started the drive with 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter. On the drive’s first play, Wilson’s pass was intercepted by Dolphins linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah, and the Dolphins were set with the ball at the Broncos’ eight-yard line.
Make the offense one-dimensional, then make them pay. That is what Miami did today.
After a two-yard loss on a run from Achane, the Dolphins let the quarter end.
Miami is closing in on franchise records for points in a game. They also have to be considering pulling their starters soon.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
Tagovailoa opened the fourth quarter with a pass to Achane in the middle of the field, with the space opening up for the running back to get back into the endzone. Dolphins 56-13.
That marks a new franchise record for points scored. The Dolphins have taken it to the Broncos today, able to do almost everything they wanted.
The Broncos, needing points fast, began the drive with a Perine run for three yards, then an incomplete pass. Wilson appeared to connect on a 22-yard pass to Johnson, but the receiver stepped out of bounds before catching the pass and was flagged for illegal touching. The loss of downs led to a Broncos punt.
Complete domination at this point.
Mike White replaced Tagovailoa at quarterback, with many of the Dolphins starters coming out of the game on the drive. Rookie running back Chris Brooks made his first NFL rush on the first down play, picing up a yard. He then gained eight yards, setting up a 3rd-and-1 play. White threw a pass into the flat for Achane on the conversion attempt, but the Broncos stopped it for a one-yard loss. Miami was forced to punt for the first time in the game.
Obviously, things are going to slow a little with the second-string offense taking over.
Denver started with a one-yard run from Williams, then Wilson threw for six yards to Wilson. An incomplete pass on third down led to another Broncos punt.
The defense is looking to keep up the pressure at this point, though they are also starting to replace many of the starters.
Brooks picked up three yards on first down, then lost three yards on second down. On 3rd-and-10, White threw a bomb to Robbie Chosen, who beat Patrick Surtain II down the field for the 68 yard score. Dolphins 63-13.
Not sure what the play call was, but clearly Chosen was the right read for White. The deep bomb was interesting with this game this far out of hand.
Mims returned the kick 99 yards for the touchdown. Dolphins 63-20.
The score really does not matter, but the special teams allowing a return touchdown is a concern.
Miami again turned to the ground game to keep the clock running. Achane picked up eight yards to start the drive, then took it 67 yards for the score. Dolphins 70-20.
So much for eating up clock. Just absolutely set up Miami for potentially setting a new NFL record. Can they get past 72 points?
Starting at their own 25 yard line, the Broncos began with a three-yard run from running back Jaleel McLaughlin. Wilson then threw to Mims for five yards, followed by an incomplete pass but Dolphins cornerback Parry Nickerson was called for illegal contact and the Broncos picked up a first down. Wilson then looked to Jeudy deep for a 46-yard gain. At the Miami 16-yard line, McLaughlin picked up four yards, then another three. On 3rd-and-3, Wilson was sacked by Emmanuel Ogbah for a 12-yard loss. Wilson then threw incomplete on 4th down.
Why is Russell Wilson still in this game?
Brooks picked up four yards on the first down run, then broke free for 52 yards. A Miami illegal shift penalty backed the Dolphins up to the Broncos’ 38-yard line. Brooks then ran for three yards, and no gain before the two-minute warning. On 2nd-and-15, Brooks picked up two yards, before a one-yard loss led to Miami having to decide. They chose to have White take a knee, turn the ball over to the Broncos, and not rub in the score even more.
The decision to kick the field goal and set a new NFL record with 73 points had to be considered. Mike McDaniel probably made the right choice as it was meaningless, but the fans in the stands wanted that field goal, and you have to think even the Broncos and Sean Payton would have understood.
The Broncos ran for seven yards to end the game.
Again, why was Wilson in the game still?