The Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs faced off on Saturday night in a freezingly cold Super Wild Card Weekend contest. The Chiefs continued the trend of teams smacking Miami in the mouth early, and the Dolphins not having an answer for it.
The first half featured a punt, an interception, a touchdown, a turnover on downs, a second punt, and the end of the half for the Dolphins. They never really sustained anything, with the touchdown coming on a two-play possession, capped with a 53-yard pass for a touchdown to wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
The second half was not any better for Miami, who punted twice and turned the ball over on downs as the Chiefs put together long, clock-eating drives. Even after a three-and-out by the Chiefs with 5:20 remaining in the game, Miami could not put together the quick-strike drive they needed, eating clock on their own, ultimately turning the ball over after a 12-play drive that picked up 27 yards. A fumble on Kansas City’s last drive gave Miami one last possession, but the four-play, 28-yard drive was simply stat-padding as the clock ran out.\
The Chiefs will now advance into the Divisional Round of the playoffs, while the Dolphins head home for the offseason. A year that started off with the Dolphins looking like a potential Super Bowl contender turned into a dud of a year as Miami ended with three-straight losses and looked overmatched in all three games.
Dolphins 7 - 26 Chiefs
First Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins won the coin toss, deferring to the second half. After the kickoff return, the Chiefs started the opening drive at the 31-yard line. Two incomplete passes began the drive before quarterback Patrick Mahomes found tight end Travis Kelce for an 11-yard gain and a first down. Running back Isaiah Pacheco picked up four yards and 10 yards on two consecutive runs, followed by am eight-yard gain on a screen pass to Kelce. Pacheco gained another 23 yards to move down into the redzone at the Miami 13-yard line. After a Pacheco run for two yards, Mahomes found wide receiver Rashee Rice on a crossing route for the touchdown. Chiefs 7-0.
Not the start the defense wanted. Miami cannot allow the Chiefs to march down the field that easily.
Miami looked to answer quickly, but two one-yard runs by running back Raheem Mostert set up a 3rd-and-Long situation. After a false start penalty on tackle Austin Jackson made it even worse, backing Miami into a 3rd-and-13, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw a short pass to running back Jeff Wilson, Jr., but it only picked up six yards and Miami was forced to punt.
Three-and-out on the opening drive is less than ideal. The 29-yard punt only exacerbated the situation. Kansas City scored easily on their opening drive, and now they get to start at the 44-yard line. Miami’s defense needs to step up here.
Pacheco picked up a yard on the first carry of the drive for the Chiefs, then Mahomes threw to wide receiver Mecole Hardman for three yards, bringing up 3rd-and-6. A deep pass attempt to Hardman that fell incomplete led to a Kansas City punt.
Okay, the defense responded and got Miami’s offense the ball back. Can the offense get into rhythm?
The Dolphins started to find their rhythm, beginning with a screen pass to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for a nine-yard gain. Mostert then carried for five yards before rookie running back De’Von Achane took a pitch but was stopped at the line of scrimmage. Tagovailoa then scrambled for 10 yards before a pass into the flat to Achane picked up nine yards. Another pass to Achane slipped from Tagovailoa’s hand as he was throwing, leading to an incomplete pass. A run to pick up the first down was negated by an illegal formation penalty, followed by Tagovailoa trying to force a throw deep to Waddle, but he overthrew the pass and it was intercepted.
The good news was Miami was moving the ball. The bad news was that the grip on the ball by Tagovailoa is now a concern. He is not wearing a glove on his throwing hand and keeping it in the warming pouch until just before the snap, but it has to be a concern.
An incomplete pass from Mahomes targeting Rice started the drive, but Mahomes went right back to Rice on the second-down play, picking up 23 yards on the catch and run. Pacheco then ran for 11 yards. Pacheco picked up three yards on the next play, with an incomplete pass following. On 3rd-and-7, Mahomes threw to Rice for just enough to convert the first down. Pacheco took the Wildcat snap straight up the middle for a four-yard gain. The first quarter came to an end on a Pacheco run for no gain.
Second Quarter Reactions
A low snap threw off the Chiefs timing on the first play of the second period, leading to a field goal. Chiefs 10-0.
Miami’s defense still needs to step up, but losing Eli Apple, who was injured on the incomplete pass before Rice’s conversion, could prove to be costly. Rookie Ethan Bonner is in to replace him, and Miami is down to just about no other options at cornerback. Forcing a field goal was good. Now the offense has to score.
After the Chiefs squibbed the kick down the field with fullback Alec Ingold picking it up, running it 19 yards to the 38-yard line. A counter, with Hill running across the formation and taking a screen pass nine yards down the field. On the next play, Hill got open deep, coming back for the pass from Tagovailoa, then working his way down the field for the 53-yard touchdown. Chiefs 10-7.
Hello, Miami offense. We have missed you. Thank you for showing up. Please stay awhile.
After a squib kick from Miami and an illegal block by the Chiefs, Kansas City started at their own 20-yard line. Mahomes threw to a wide open Kelce on first down for a 22-yard gain, but then Kelce let the next pass go through he hands - the second time that has happened for him tonight. A couple of passes to Rice and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling gained a combined 15 yards, before a one-yard run from running back Clyde Edward-Helaire and a loss of four yards by Pacheco - with a returned Apple on the tackle - set up a 4th-and-5. Miami’s pass rush nearly reached Mahomes, but he broke up the middle and turned a possible sack into a 28-yard run. Four plays later, the Chiefs settled for a short field goal. Chiefs 13-7.
Miami has to figure out their coverage on Kelce. They cannot count on him dropping every other pass right now. Apple being back on the field helps the cornerbacks. Stopping the Chiefs there for a field goal gives Miami a chance to take the lead on the next drive, if they can keep the rhythm they had the last time they had the ball.
Miami began their possession with an eight-yard run from Mostert. The running back carried on the next three plays as well, picking up four yards, three yards, and six yards ont he plays. After a Miami timeout, the Dolphins missed on a screen attempt to Mostert, then had a 4th-and-2 pass broken up targeting Hill. Miami turned the ball over on downs at the Chiefs’ 45-yard line.
Mostert getting into a rhythm is huge for Miami’s offense. The pass breakup was really a good play by the Chiefs.
Mahomes threw a bubble screen to Kelce to start the drive, picking up six yards. A one-yard run from Pacheco and an incomplete pass - on a play that probably should have been flagged for a defensive pass interference penalty - led to a Chiefs punt.
Defense did their part, but they did get luck on the deep pass from Mahomes toward Hardman that probably should have been a penalty on safety Brandon Jones. These refs are allowing more than most official have this season.
The Dolphins began with a run from Achane for two yards, with a screen pass to Hill gaining no yards and taking the clock to the two-minute warning. After the break, Miami faced 3rd-and-8, with Hill flinching for a false start penalty. Tagovailoa was sacked on the next play, leading to a Miami punt.
The false start penalty should have been on the defense, as the cornerback was baiting Hill with movement and crossing the line of scrimmage to get the flinch from Hill. The sack on Tagovailoa was a great pass rush from George Karlafitis, who full rushed through right tackle Austin Jackson.
A holding penalty on linebacker David Long as Kelce was running a route gave the Chiefs 10 free yards. Mahomes then threw to Rice for five yards, with cornerback Kadre Kohou flying up to make the tackle immediately after the catch. After an incomplete pass and a false start penalty on the Chiefs, Kansas City faced a 3rd-and-10, but Mahomes found Rice on a slant route, who turned the short pass into a 39-yard gain. Pacheco picked up four yards, moving the ball to the Dolphins’ 13-yard line. Mahomes then threw to Pacheco, with cornerback Jalen Ramsey firing it to make the tackle for a one-yard loss and force the Chiefs to use their final timeout. On 3rd-and-7 with 26 seconds remaining, Mahomes threw the ball into the dirt on a screen pass that was covered well by Miami. The Chiefs settled for a third field goal. Chiefs 16-7.
The defense shut down the Chiefs after the 39-yard gain. Kohou was trailing on the slant to Rice, trying to catch up to make the tackle - eventually forcing him out of bounds. This game is still there for the Dolphins - but they cannot let the Chiefs have momentum early in the second half.
Miami opened the drive with a 17-yard pass to Waddle, appearing to be ready to try to score before the break. A penalty on Miami backed them up to their own 38-yard line with two seconds remaining. Tagovailoa threw deep toward wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, likely looking for a defensive pass interference penalty to extend the half, but the ball fell incomplete and the half ended.
The Dolphins are absolutely in this game, even though it feels like they are struggling to keep their rhythm. They get the ball to start the second half, so they have the opportunity to turn this into a two-point game and keep the pressure on the Chiefs. They just cannot make a mistake and crush themselves here.
The defense is hanging on somehow. We are seeing the bend-don’t-break mentality come back, which can be a problem if the Chiefs are firing on all cylinders, but so far it is working. The defense has been getting pressure on Mahomes, but they have yet to get to him. A couple of sacks could be needed down the stretch.
Third Quarter Reactions
Miami started with the ball, but did nothing with the possession. An incomplete pass on first down, a five-yard run from Mostert on a screen pass thrown backwards, and a Tagovailoa scramble for one yard lef to a three-and-out punt.
Not the fast start to the half Miami wanted. Guess the defense needs to step up and keep this close.
A 20-yard gain followed an incomplete pass on first down as Mahomes dropped a pass into tight end Noah Gray. Pacheco lost two yards on a run before a short pass to Kelce turned into a 13-yard gain when the initial tackle included Kelce falling on a defender and never touching the ground. Linebacker Melvin Ingram came up just short of a sack on Mahomes, who threw the ball away before the tackle could be made. Mahomes then threw to Rice for 10 yards, with the receiver injured as he was tackled out of bounds. Edwards-Helaire gained 12 yards on a run before Mahomes ran for 13 yards. A Pacheco run for no yards, then two incomplete passes brought up a 4th down and another field goal from the Chiefs. Chiefs 19-7.
Bend-don’t-break is great, but if Miami’s offense does not figure something out soon, all the bending will break this game.
The Dolphins opened with an Achane run for three yards, with tight end Durham Smythe picking up five yards on a reception on second down. On 3rd-and-2, Achane was stopped with just a one-yard gain, then picked up three yards on the 4th-and-1 attempt. A run for no yards, a sack of Tagovailoa, and a pass to Achane for one yard led to a Miami punt.
Nope. This Miami offense is just stuck in neutral right now. This is now three straight games where they simply cannot get anything started. Even when they do find success on one possession, they come back out and cannot get it going on the next. Something has to break to open up the explosiveness that was the Dolphins’ offense earlier this season.
A run from Pacheco for a loss of three yards and an incomplete pass seemed to set up the Chiefs for a tough third down play, but a roughing the passer penalty on Brandon Jones for hitting Mahomes low gave Kansas City a break. Mahomes then threw to wide receiver Justin Watson for 10 yards. An incomplete pass on second down, with Jalen Ramsey nearly coming away with the interception, brought up 3rd-and-5, with the Chiefs converting on a six-yard pass to wide receiver Richie James. After a one-yard run from Pacheco, the quarter ended.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
A holding penalty negated a 13-yard run to open the quarter and move the team back to a 2nd-and-6. Mahomes found Rice on a crossing route to pick up 28 yards, making up for the holding penalty loss. Edwards-Helaire was stopped for no gain on the first down play from the Miami 17-yard line. On 2nd-and-10, Mahomes threw the ball away as he was being rushed, leading to an intentional grounding penalty. On 3rd-and-20, Christian Wilkins was called for a roughing the passer penalty, giving the Chiefs a free first down. Pacheco picked up four yards on the first down play, then added another two on second down. On 3rd-and-4, Miami appeared to stop Edwards-Helaire short of the first down on a reception, but he fought forward and converted for a first and goal. Pacheco then scored on the next play on a Wildcat snap. Chiefs 26-7.
That may be the dagger in the season for Miami. They just could not get out of their own way, once again letting penalties crush anything good the team has done. The offense does not feel like they are in a place where they can make up 19 points in 11 minutes.
Miami opened the drive with a deep pass attempt to Waddle, but the pass was overthrown and fell incomplete. Tagovailoa then threw to Hill for six yards before a delay of game penalty backed Miami into a 3rd-and-9. Tagovailoa found Cedrick Wilson for 19 yards on the pass, giving the team a conversion on third down, finally. Tagovailoa then threw to wide receiver River Cracraft in the middle of the field for 19 yards. A pass into the flat to Mostert led to a three-yard loss, bringing up 2nd-and-13. Tagovailoa then ran for 14 yards and the first down. Tagovailoa looked to Hill in the endzone, but the pass was broken up - with Miami lucky it was not intercepted. After Miami head coach Mike McDaniel successfully challenged that a pass ruled backwards and out of bounds on a fumble was actually a deflected forward pass and should have been incomplete, Tagovailoa threw to Hill in the flat, with the receiver tackled immediately for a six-yard loss. On 4th-and-16, Miami attempted to go for it, with Cedrick Wilson catching an eight yard slant and giving the ball back to the Chiefs.
What are they doing? Seriously, that drive was too time consuming, play calling was questionable, and nothing worked. Just nope.
The Chiefs saw Pacheco run for two yards on two-straight plays, with Miami calling a timeout after the second rush. An incomplete pass on third down led to a Chiefs punt.
The defense got the ball back for the offense, but that felt more like the Chiefs offense knows the game is over and are not threatened by Miami’s offense than it was a great stand by the defense.
A four-yard pass to Smythe followed two straight incomplete passes to start the drive. On 4th-and-6, Miami converted with a nine-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson. Three-straight incomplete passes brought up another fourth-down play, with Miami converting again, this time on a 14-yard pass to Waddle. Another three-straight incomplete passes brought up another fourth down, with a pass to Hill on the sideline falling incomplete and Miami turned the ball over on downs.
The Dolphins have so much talent and so much potential, but they have just been crushed the last three weeks. With the team already projected to be well over the salary cap next season, many questions must be answered.
Pacheco picked up six yards on the first play, with Edwards-Helaire adding another six yards before a run for no gain and the clock running down to the two-minute warning. A three-yard run from Edwards-Helaire started the clock running again, with Edwards-Helaire running again on 3rd-and-7. Bonner hit the ball loose from the running back and Deshawn Hand recovered for Miami.
Something good. Great play by Bonner.
Tagovailoa threw to Achane for 11 yards, then incomplete targeting the running back. A 14-yard pass to Cracraft over the middle of the field was followed by Smythe catching a pass for three yards. The clock ran out on the game after the play.