Dolphins Defense Picks Off Hoyer Three Times, Win 16-12

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Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick carries Indianapolis Colts CB Kenny Moore with him into the end zone on Sunday. Miami won 16-12. PC: AJ Mast

The Miami Dolphins’ defensive back Steven Parker, cornerback Bobby McCain and defensive back Nik Needham intercepted Indianapolis’ Colts’ backup quarterback Brian Hoyer three times, including once in the end zone, en route to a 16-12 victory on the road. Miami improves to 2-7 on the season, while Indianapolis drops to 5-4, taking a significant hit to its playoff push.

DB Steven Parker makes Dolphins game tone known early

The Colts looked to get on the board first with a touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron not five minutes into the game. However, Parker was on Ebron’s coverage, and as Ebron was falling to the turf, Parker’s last-second effort allowed him to rip the ball from Ebron’s hands, roll over him, and stand up with the ball. The play was ruled a touch-back on the field, went to replay, and the call was confirmed. 

“I already knew I had that ball. In my mind, it was already a pick. They had already ruled it, but in my mind it was already an interception,” Parker said. “I’m not going to lie, I’ve watched it 1,000 times. A lot of people sent me the video. I’ve gotten a lot of good reviews on it.”

The Dolphins turned the turnover into a completed 47-yard field goal on the next drive to take the 3-0 lead. 

Sprinkling Fitzmagic into the end zone

Right after the two-minute warning to end the first half, Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick scored its only TD of the game, a 11-yard rushing score to the right hash mark on third-and-11. The Dolphins would take the 10-0 lead into the half, and hold it until there was 7:54 remaining in the third quarter. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made it 10-3 Miami with a 25-yard field goal after the Dolphins stopped three and-goal plays.

Indianapolis gets back into it

Indianapolis would then score on its next two possessions, with Vinatieri adding a 39-yard field goal to make it 10-6, followed by a wide open one-yard left field end zone strike to TE Jack Doyle to begin the fourth quarter.

After a missed extra point on the play, Miami would increase its lead to 16-12 with a pair of back-to-back drive 48-yard FGs from Jason Sanders. To end the game, the Dolphins forced a turnover on downs after four stops on first-and-10 from their own 16-yard line. Hoyer tossed three straight deep incompletions for TDs and followed it up by an eight-yard completion to Ebron for a turnover on downs. Miami took a knee to run out the clock and pick up its second win of the season and start a winning streak.

Dolphins undefeated in November

“My job is to put this team in the best position to try to go out there and be productive and try to win football games. I think every head coach, every general manager, every organization is thinking about things long-term, as well as short-term. We’re no different, but right now my goal is to get each one of those guys in that locker better (and) as good as they can be. That’s the goal for me and our coaching staff,” Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said.

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Outside linebacker Jerome Baker picked up the Dolphins’ only sack of the game, but it was an untouched beauty for a huge loss. Additionally, four defensive players on Miami had at least five solo tackles, and each man on the defensive unit recorded at least one tackle. 

“I think we should start this out by, welcome to Victory Monday. But no, the sack, I honestly thought he got it off. That’s why I didn’t lower my shoulder or anything,” Baker said.

Dolphins shut down Pascal, Mack

Furthermore, the defense took Colts’ No. 1 wide receiver in the game, Zach Pascal, out with continued tight coverage and did well against the rushing attack, something it has severely struggled with this season. Pascal finished with just two catches on seven targets for 26 total yards. Lead back Marlon Mack also was held in check as he rushed 19 times for 74 yards.

Kalen Ballage looks as bad as ever

The offensive woes continued for the Dolphins despite their second straight win however. With running back Mark Walton suspended until week 13, Kalen Ballage got the start. Ballage was downgraded to third on the RB depth chart earlier this season, and he again showed why in this game. He came into the game averaging 2.0 yards per carry and finished with 20 rushes for 43 yards (2.2 YPC). The Dolphins didn’t use rookie Patrick Laird until the fourth quarter and kept fellow rookie Myles Gaskin out of the game, as well as newly signed De’Lance Turner from the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. 

Receiving core struggles without Preston Williams

Miami will also need to improve its passing game again. It clearly showed how hurt the team was in its first game without rookie wideout Preston Williams. DeVante Parker couldn’t handle the full No. 1 load as he caught just half of his targets (five-for-10) for 69 yards. Additionally, coveted TE Mike Gesicki also only caught half of his targets after coming off of a career day. He had just three catches for 28 yards and a poorly dropped fumble. Seven other players combined for 13 catches on 17 targets.

The Dolphins will have a week to correct its poor offense before hosting the Buffalo Bills in their second and final meeting of the season on Sunday at 1 p.m.

“I love it. I love winning. I love winning now. I don’t worry about the future. I worry about winning now and it just feels good to win,” Baker said. “The future is going to be the future. I’ll worry about that when it comes; but for now, like I said earlier in the year, it’s all about winning right now. I’m not really focused on next year or the year after that.”

– Kayla Morton is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. Like and follow on and Facebook.

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