Kicker Jason Sanders kept the Miami Dolphins in a battle with early MVP candidate Russell Wilson and the undefeated Seattle Seahawks on Sunday by connecting on all five of his field goal attempts. However, not being able to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter ultimately sank Miami into its third loss in four tries with a 31-23 defeat.
“After a game you think of every situation; you could have done this, could have done that,” Miami head coach Brian Flores said. “You’re never going to beat a team like that kicking field goals. I think we all know and understand that. I thought – any time you turn the ball over, you don’t want that. Those aren’t good, but for the most part I thought we moved it well. I thought ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) ran it, threw it; but at the end of the day you’ve got to finish in the red zone.”
Turnovers Plague Dolphins Again
The Dolphins (1-3) got off to a rough start as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed his first of two interceptions on the fourth offensive play of the game.
The turnover created a six-play TD drive for Seattle (4-0) that saw running back Chris Carson score his first of two TDs in the game. Carson, who was questionable all week, started the game, took a brief absence in the medical tent, but eventually returned to score later in the game. Seattle awarded his efforts to play on Sunday with 16 carries as the lead back, with backups Travis Homer rushing just four times and DeeJay Dallas just twice.
After consecutive punts by both teams on their next possession, Sanders kicked his first of five field goals in the game, a 41-yarder, to cut Seattle’s lead to just four points.
Both Miami and Seattle would trade FGs on their next possessions to end the first quarter with still a four-point differential, 10-6.
Ogbah Sack Creates Spark, Keeps Game Close
After a turnover on downs on fourth down thanks to a huge seven-yard sack by defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami tacked on another FG to make it a one-point contest.
“Coach (Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer) drew up a great game plan. I just did my job, really. Set the edge and made tackles and made plays for this team,” Ogbah said. “I felt like a play needed to be made and I stepped up.”
Miami Defense Breaks Down
The Dolphins defense proved again how much of a rebuilding mode their in, by choosing to not finish off the half playing defense.
They left wide receiver David Moore essentially unguarded down the sideline and Wilson found him for a 57-yard gain down to the Dolphins’ seven-yard line with 19 seconds remaining in the half.
Two plays later with six seconds remaining in the half it got even worse for Miami as a triangle formation on defense still allowed Homer to catch a three-yard TD right in the middle of the field of play.
Instead of being down by just one point heading into the half, the Dolphins found themselves down 17-9 with no signs of life of being able to get into the end zone.
“I thought that was the story of the day, being able to move the ball effectively and not being able to do anything in the red zone. And whether it was a penalty or poor execution or just a bad read by me, it just seemed like every time we got down there, something popped up,” Fitzpatrick said. “And red zone execution really falls on the quarterback. When that happens and your quarterback doesn’t play up to his ability, then you’re not going to win a whole lot of games in this league.”
Howard’s Red Zone INT Gives Dolphins New Life
Seattle got the ball to begin the second half, but like Miami’s opening drive to begin the game, the Seahawks’ drive ended in an INT too.
Cornerback Xavien Howard intercepted Wilson in the end zone on a TD intended for WR D.K. Metcalf. After taking a knee in the end zone for a touchback, the Dolphins would see the drive end in Sanders’ 43-yard FG.
“(The) coaches put me in a great position. I just ended up making a play,” Howard said about his INT. “It wasn’t good enough to win a game. So I’m focused on winning, not just the one-on-one matchups.”
Two-Point Game After Sanders’ Perfect Day
After a punt, Sanders again knocked in a FG to cut the lead to 17-15 to end the third quarter. However, a tired Miami defense gave up two TDs on the first two Seattle possessions of the fourth, one to Moore and one to Carson.
“We just didn’t play well enough in the fourth quarter. We’ve talked about finishing games and playing well in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t get it done today offensively or defensively,” Flores said. “We’ve been in every game. It’s been close in the fourth quarter and we’ve got to finish better.”
The Dolphins again made the scoreboard look more respectable late in the game, tacking on a Fitzpatrick rushing TD along with a successful two-point conversion to WR Preston Williams.
Not Enough Fire Power in Miami
The clock ran out however on another Cinderella story, and again, playmakers for Miami were nowhere to be seen.
Williams’ conversion was only his second catch of the game and the Dolphins’ No. 2 WR disappointed again with just 15 yards.
While No. 1 WR DeVante Parker led Miami again, no other WR got above 50 yards. However, the only possible solace for the Dolphins here is that Fitzpatrick found 11 different receivers on his 29 attempts.
“DeVante is a great player for us, one that I’m always going to rely on especially in tough situations. And try to get him the ball and rely on him to win one-on-one,” Fitzpatrick said. “He did some good things versus zone coverage today, just finding the spot and running after the catch. But he’s a big part of what we do. And it was good to get him back in the game today.”
Dolphins Backs Silent in Run Game
Miami’s run game struggled again, as lead back Myles Gaskin rushed for just 40 yards on 10 attempts. Fitzpatrick ended the game as the leading rusher, rushing 47 yards on six carries and posting the team’s only score. He also threw for 315 yards on a 29-for45 day.
For Seattle, Wilson went 24-for-34 for 360 yards with two passing scores and the interception. He tied former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning for the most TD passes in NFL history through the first four games (16).
Metcalf finished with the most yards of any Seahawks receiver, accumulating 106 yards on four catches (six targets). Moore finished five yards short of the century mark thanks to the large gain, with 95 yards on three catches.
The Dolphins will travel to the west coast in week five to face off against the San Francisco 49ers looking for their second win.