Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins made things interesting on Sunday, but ultimately fell for just the second time in nine games.
Miami’s rally came up short in a 33-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. At eight games, the Chiefs own the longest active winning streak in the NFL.
With three weeks left, the Dolphins remain in the thick of the postseason race. Here’s a look back at what went right and what did not on Sunday:
Miami fans should feel good about the direction rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa seems to be going. For the second week in a row, Tagovailoa shined.
Despite Miami being without its top three running backs and multiple skill players sidelined, Tagovailoa passed for a career-high 316 yards and two touchdowns. It marked the second week in a row that the rookie from Alabama set a new yardage high. Tagovailoa added a third touchdown on the ground.
With a limited group of pass catchers, Lynn Bowden Jr. and Mack Hollins had career-high receiving days for Miami. Bowden, a rookie from Kentucky, tallied career-highs of seven catches for 82 yards. Hollins caught a career-high tying five passes for a career-high 66 yards.
Tight end Mike Gesicki also had a nice day with five receptions for 65 yards and two scores, including an acrobatic catch for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. After a bit of a quiet stretch, Gesicki has caught four touchdowns in the last three weeks. Miami was a respectable 7-for-15 on third down.
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Defensively, Miami did its job at the line of scrimmage and made plays throughout the day. The Dolphins tallied three sacks and seven tackles for loss on Sunday. Linebacker Jerome Baker recorded 2.5 sacks for the Dolphins, including one on Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes that resulted in a loss of 30 yards.
The Dolphins held the Chiefs to a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry. Take away a 32-yard touchdown run by Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs managed just 2.7 yards per rush.
Miami forced four turnovers in the victory. Byron Jones, Eric Rowe and Xavien Howard all came away with picks off Mahomes. Miami also forced a red zone fumble that probably kept the Chiefs from putting the game away in the second half.
Howard’s one-handed pick was his NFL-leading ninth interception of the year. That’s one shy of Dick Anderson’s single-season team record set in 1967. Prior to the contest, Mahomes had been intercepted just twice all year. It’s just the second time in his career that he’s been intercepted three times in one game.
The opportunities were there for Miami to score its most impressive win of the season, but it was not to be. Jason Sanders missed just his second field goal of the season on a Sunday where special teams as a whole, was subpar.
The Dolphins also allowed their first non-offensive touchdown of the season. Mecole Hardman returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter to give Kansas City a 28-10 lead.
Overall, the defense did enough for Miami to win, but there were still a lot of big plays. That’s to be expected from Mahomes and an offense as good as Kansas City’s but five different receivers had a catch for at least 25 yards on Sunday. Hill added the aforementioned 32-yard rush.
On offense, Miami didn’t do a lot to help its rookie quarterbacks. There were a lot of drops and balls that could have been caught that fell to the turf. Tagovailoa was also intercepted for the first time in his career following an underthrown deep ball.
On the ground, the Dolphins finished with just 80 yards on 3.3 yards per rush. DeAndre Washington’s 35 yards rushing is the lowest team-high for Miami all season.
With three rookies in the starting lineup, the Dolphins had a rough day up front. The Dolphins yielded four sacks and nine tackles for loss. That included a sack of Tagovailoa by Chris Jones in the end zone that resulted in a safety to put the Chiefs up 30-10.
Unfortunately for Miami, the loss kills any real chance it had at winning the AFC East. The Dolphins fall two games behind the Buffalo Bills in the division.
The good news is that the Dolphins remain in the final playoff spot in the AFC. At 8-5, the Dolphins occupy the No. 7 seed. They hold a half-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens and a game lead over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Miami will look to split the season series with the New England Patriots for the fourth season in a row when the teams meet at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. New England is 6-7 and would be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss.
In the season opener, the Patriots beat the Dolphins 21-11 at Foxborough. The contest begins at 1 p.m. ET and airs regionally on CBS.