Mike McDaniel and the Miami Dolphins have now lost three consecutive games.
Despite the team’s perfect start, the team lost 24-16 to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, bringing the record back to the .500 mark after week 6. Additionally, Miami suffered yet another injury at the quarterback position, this time rookie Skylar Thompson, who received the first official start of his career but was forced to exit due to a thumb injury sustained in the second quarter. This marked the fourth straight game a Miami quarterback has been forced to exit as the result of an injury.
Luckily for McDaniel, both Teddy Bridgewater and Tagovailoa cleared concussion protocols on Saturday. While Tagovailoa remained out for this game, Bridgewater was available to enter in relief of Thompson.
The Dolphins’ offense started the game with three straight drives that resulted in punts. Even so, Thompson appeared much more comfortable in this game than last week when he was thrown into the fire. The seventh-round pick completed 7 of 13 passes for 89 yards before injuring his thumb after hitting it on a Viking player’s helmet. The extent of the injury has not yet been reported.
In came Bridgewater, but not much changed for Miami’s offense. The Dolphins ended up punting the ball in six of 14 possessions. Miami also lost the turnover battle in this game, coughing up the ball on three occasions, which resulted in 10 points for Minnesota.
Despite the poor performance, Bridgewater and the Dolphins still had a chance to steal this game after a Mike Gesicki touchdown early in the fourth quarter made the score 16-10. Miami followed up its score with a defensive stop and the momentum appeared to be shifting in favor of the Phins.
With a chance to tie or take the lead in the possession that followed, Jaylen Waddle fumbled the ball after making a 14-yard catch in Minnesota territory. Following the fumble, Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook sealed the game with a 53-yard touchdown run.
Gesicki went on on to catch another touchdown pass with a little over a minute left in the game, but after a failed onside kick attempt, the team had lost.
One of the Dolphins’ most glaring problems was the penalties on offense. Miami had a drive in which it netted 143 yards, yet was still forced to punt due to losing so much yardage. The Dolphins finished the game with 10 penalties for a total of 97 yards.
Miami’s top performers were Tyreek Hill, who finished the game with 12 receptions for 177 yards, and Waddle, who shined with six receptions for 129 yards. Gesicki put together his best performance of the season with six receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dolphins are expected to have Tagovailoa available for next week’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has missed the past two games due to the concussion he suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 4. Miami’s perfect 3-0 start was largely credited to the play of Tagovailoa, who was firing on all cylinders to start the season. It will be interesting to see if the third-year man is the missing piece to bring the offense back to the form it showed during the first three weeks.
Miami’s defensive unit deserves a ton of credit for the way they kept their team in the game despite the subpar offensive performance. The defense managed to force 10 three-and-outs in 15 Viking-possessions. This means they did not allow a first down on 10 occasions throughout the game, including three straight to start the game.
The Dolphins’ defense simply did not get enough support from the offense and as the game went on, they wore down.
Minnesota came into this game on a three-game win streak, yet Miami was able to keep them at bay for much of the contest. The Vikings put together one strong drive in the first half that resulted in a touchdown by tight end Irv Smith Jr. Apart from this, an interception by Bridgewater late in the second quarter essentially spotted his former team three points due to field position.
The second half consisted of more stout defense on Miami’s part. The Vikings came out of halftime with three straight three-and-outs once but the Dolphins’ offense did not capitalize.
Minnesota put together one more solid drive late in the third quarter that led to a touchdown by veteran receiver Adam Thielen.
Finally, Waddle’s fumble put the defense back on the field after just coming up with a big stop and led to Cook’s long touchdown run.
One of the Viking’s top performers were Kirk Cousins, who finished 20 of 35 for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Cook finished with 13 rush attempts for 77 yards and a touchdown – the majority of his yards coming from the long touchdown. Additionally, Justin Jefferson continued his incredible season with six receptions for 107 yards.
All in all, Miami’s performance in this game was disappointing, to say the least. The Dolphins had a chance to redeem last week’s embarrassing loss to the Jets with a statement win against one of the top teams in the league at home. The play of the offense was simply not up to par and with Tagovailoa’s return impending, it will be imperative that the offense find some kind of rhythm to return to its winning ways.
The Dolphins are now tied for last place in the AFC East. The Jets, Patriots and Bills all won on Sunday. Miami will stay at home for its next game when the team hosts the 2-4 Steelers on Sunday Night Football.
Mike Tomlin’s Steelers are coming off a big victory against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Pittsburgh is currently dealing with several key injuries including rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who suffered a concussion in Sunday’s win.
It will be exciting to see Tagovailoa return in a primetime matchup against a team coming off a statement win. The game is set to kick off Sunday at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.