Going into Week 10, you certainly wouldn’t compare the Miami Dolphins to Hawk and Animal (famous tag team), or Mel Gibson (Mad Max). The latter being famous ROAD WARRIORS. Miami, on the other hand, has been horrible this season on the road, starting out 0-3. All of Miami’s wins have been at home. Including the current 3-0 win streak.
If that continued on Sunday in San Diego, Miami could kiss their playoff dreams goodbye. Make no mistake about it, the loser was out of the playoffs. San Diego, at 4-5, could not afford to lose anymore ground in the AFC West to the Oakland Raiders. Denver and Kansas City at the moment are taking up both wildcard spots.
Unfortunately, the same went for Miami at 4-4. Miami has already lost a tie-breaking game a few weeks ago to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans dispatched Green Bay earlier in the day. That would give the Titans a 5-5 record. Miami could not afford to lose anymore ground.
Unfortunately, in week 10 you can’t guarantee a playoff spot, but you certainly can lose it. So here were the questions going into the game: could Miami’s Jekyll and Hyde defense put up a consistent performance against Phillip Rivers and the NFL touchdown leader, Melvin “Flash” Gordon? Can Ryan Tannehill and Jay Ajayi put up a consistent performance against a streaky San Diego defense? More importantly, can Ryan Tannehill show he is more than a game manager. Let me be more clear. Can Ryan Tannehill make plays when the game is on the line for the LOVE OF GOD?!! He’s killing me.
Unfortunately, things started off poorly for the Dolphins. San Diego jumped all over Miami early. Rivers gave San Diego a lead on two scoring drives. Miami didn’t help itself by struggling to move the ball. San Diego took a quick 10-0 lead and it looked like Miami was in danger of falling behind a high powered offense that they couldn’t compete with. Then Ryan Tannehill threw a 39-yard strike to Kenny Stills that got Miami into the half only being down by three.
Miami’s coaching staff took over from there, coming up with adjustments that helped the Dolphins in the second half. Miami did allow Rivers to go 23/44 for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns. One of those touchdowns being Rivers’ 300th in his career, passing John Elway on the all-time list. However, Miami forced Rivers into 4 interceptions in the 4th quarter. This is something that had never occurred in Rivers soon-to-be Hall of Fame career. Melvin Gordon, the NFL touchdown leader was held to a mundane 70 yards and 0 touchdowns. San Diego set out to stop Ajayi and they were some what successful, holding him to 79 yards and 0 touchdowns.
However, Tannehill and DeVante Parker picked up the slack, with Tannehill going 17/24 for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tannehill again did not turn the ball over. Parker had 5 catches for 103 yards. One of those catches was a game changer late. This allowed Miami to take a lead late. Unfortunately, Miami’s defense couldn’t get out of its on way. A defensive hold on third down gave San Diego extra life. Rivers took advantage quickly by throwing a 51-yard touchdown to Ty Williams.
Now, all the pressure was on Tannehill to step up and win the game instead of just not losing it. I wasn’t feeling good about it either. However, Tannehill did complete a bomb to Parker that set up a game tying field goal. Unfortunately, his inability to get the touchdown left Miami’s Defense to win the game and that they did. Kiko Alonso picked off Rivers for a 60-yard return for a touchdown that gave Miami the lead. Miami’s defense didn’t stop there. Tony Lippett, a much maligned cornerback, promptly picked Rivers off for the second time, icing the game. Final score: Miami 31 San Diego 24
Ryan took a step forward this week. He hung in there with Rivers. Though he didn’t win the game late, he did get Miami the tie. This kept Miami in the game and forced San Diego to try to win it instead of running out the clock.
Miami’s Coaching Staff
Every week Miami looks better in the second half. The coaching staff is making great adjustments. I can assure you, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is to thank for four interceptions in the 4th quarter. A unfortunate record for Phillip Rivers.
Miami’s Defense won the game late. Not only did they get the score to win, but assured no late game heroics. They held Melvin Gordon down all game long and frustrated a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
They made huge plays, but unfortunately, they also gave up big plays. Not to mention constantly being called for penalties on third down. If this keeps happening, at some point this is going to bite you in the butt.
Miami Special Teams
Two fumbles by Jakeem Grant could have been huge. Luckily, he recovered one and a River’s interception in the end zone took care of the other.
This was a huge road win for the Dolphins and San Diego is all but eliminated. However, with Denver, Kansas City, and Tennessee ahead of Miami in the standings, they have a long way to to go, but they saved themselves for the moment. Going down for the second week in a row and mounting a comeback for a win is a good sign. Miami no longer seems to let mistakes tank their games. On a side, note the New England Patriots lost at home to the Seattle Seahawks. I just wanted to say that.
Wear it, Tom Brady. We’re coming for you.