By Carl Mahler and Kayla Morton
The Miami Dolphins traveled to San Francisco to take on the injury-riddled 49ers looking for an upset against the eight-point favorites. The Dolphins came out of the locker room on fire, jumped out to an early lead, and never looked back. Miami trounced San Francisco 43-17 in the Dolphins’ first blowout of the season.
“I think offensively, defensively and the kicking game. We started fast, brought great energy, made plays in all three phases,” Miami (2-3) head coach Brian Flores said. It’s hard to win in this league, but we got up on them pretty good. It’s not often that you win by that type of score. We’ve still got to be ready for those close games, those tight games, where we’ve got to make critical plays in critical situations.”
Miami QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Makes History
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick sprinkled in his razzle-dazzling fitzmagic again, notching his 12th career game of throwing for at least 350 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s more than Hall of Fame QB John Elway.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys on both sides of the ball so having that feeling of confidence early and knowing that we’re going to play well, I think that really helps out, especially with some of the youth and inexperience that we have on the team,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think that’s really important for us, maybe more so than in past years around past teams. I think that momentum helped us today.”
Dolphins Jump Out to Early Lead
Fitzpatrick went 22-for-28 for those 350 passing yards on the nose. He had 250 passing yards with two TD passes in the first half alone. After forcing a three-and-out punt to begin the game, Fitzpatrick found tight end Adam Shaheen on Miami’s opening drive to take a statement 7-0 lead.
After forcing another San Francisco (2-3) punt after six plays, the Dolphins scored again in the first quarter thanks to running back Myles Gaskin’s first rushing score of the season from one yard out.
Miami would hold the 49ers into the second quarter until fullback Kyle Juszczyk ran it in nearly untouched from seven yards out after their 49-yard drive.
Miami Makes Statement Strike
However, the Dolphins answered right back on their next possession when Fitzpatrick found wide receiver DeVante Parker for a 22-yard score on third-and-goal. It was the longest third-and-goal play in NFL history since 2001 (Elias Sports). The big play made another game-statement as Miami was able to convert after a 15-yard personal foul tripping penalty was called on center Ted Karras that backed them up. Parker’s leap into the end zone nearly looked effortless and proved why he’s again the No. 1 option on the team.
Back-to-Back Interceptions Ends QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s Day
Miami also used three field goals on three straight possessions to end the first half, thanks to two interceptions from cornerbacks Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard on San Francisco’s QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Howard now has three INTs in the last three games and leads the NFL with 15 total since December 2017 (Brett Brecheisen, Miami Dolphins Communications).
Miami Kicker Jason Sanders is $$$$$$$$
Kicker Jason Sanders made five total field goals in Miami’s win on Sunday, making it the second week in a row he has kicked five through the uprights. He added four extra points, scoring 20 of Miami’s total points. He is also a perfect 24-for-24 for the season combined on field goal and extra point conversions. Sanders is also the first Dolphin in team history to score 34 points in a two-game span (Elias Sports).
WR Preston Williams Shines
The fitzmagic didn’t stop in the second half as Fitzpatrick connected on his third TD pass of the day in the third quarter to WR Preston Williams to give the Dolphins a 37-14 lead. Williams was Miami’s leading WR on the day, catching four passes (five targets) for 106 yards and the TD.
“I thought obviously we got off to a great start with the deep one to Preston. I think just evaluating the few games before that, we haven’t taken enough shots down the field and given our guys chances,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve got some pretty big targets out there and guys that can really run, so that was a big part of today’s game plan.”
49ers QBs Struggle
The magic also spread to the defense as Miami forced San Francisco to bench Garoppolo for the entire second half and roll with backup C.J. Beathard.
Garoppolo finished 7-for-17 for 77 yards and two interceptions. Beathard didn’t do much better, going 9-for-18, but did throw a TD pass to WR Kendrick Bourne in the third quarter. This was also Bourne’s first score of the year.
Miami’s Defense Out-Plays San Francisco’s
Miami’s defense looked like a completely different unit on Sunday, racking up five sacks, all by different Dolphins. Linebackers Jerome Baker, Andrew Van Ginkel, Elandon Roberts, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah amd defensive tackle Zach Sieler all got in on the sacking action.
“The defensive was eating. The linebackers got in on it. It definitely helped the secondary,” Baker said. “We just had fun today, it’s fun when everybody is part of it.”
Van Ginkel and Ogbah also forced fumbles in the game, while Ogbah picked up a pass-defensed.
“I thought [defensive coordinator] Josh [Boyer] had a good plan. Our defensive coaching staff did a really nice job this week getting these guys prepared against a good offense. They’ve got a lot of good skill players,” Flores said. We had some stops on third downs, we turned them over two times, maybe three times. The guys really played well throughout the game.”
Baker, Van Ginkel and safety Eric Rowe led the defense. Baker had six tackles (five solo), a sack and a tackle for loss. Van Ginkel had four tackles (three solo) and a sack, and before Rowe left the game with an injury, recorded four tackles, all solo.
“We just do a great job of understanding the defense so we can put different guys in different spots,” Baker said. “Sometimes the coaches don’t even tell us; we just do it. We’re definitely coming together as a defense.”
Miami’s Run Game Stays Afloat Again
Miami again showed that its not going to abandon its run game. A focal point of the team to work on balancing out a run and pass game, saw the Dolphins rush a combined 33 times for 94 yards.
Gaskin saw the most action, finishing as the team’s leading rusher with 16 carries for 57 yards and a score. Gaskin saw 63-percent of the snaps and got 21 touches and 42 total repetitions. RB Matt Breida saw 12 touches and 31-percent of the snaps, a significant increase for the back after the first four games. RB Jordan Howard, who has received most of the goal-line work, was inactive.
“We moved the ball well and made a lot of big plays. I thought the O-Line performed well. I thought we ran the ball well,” Flores said. “I think the way these guys prepared, the way we practiced, how important all this is to them, I think it’s just a byproduct of all those things.”
Mostert Leads Charge, Kittle Shutdown
For San Francisco, RB Raheem Mostert led the way for the 49ers after being questionable all week, with 11 carries for 90 yards. On the receiving end it was no shocker that TE George Kittle led the way, but he was very limited by a focused-Dolphins defense for four catches (eight targets) and just 44 yards.
Miami Now Plays New York Next Week, Not Denver
In a schedule shuffle due to COVID-19, Miami will now take on winless division-for New York on Sunday at home instead of staying out west to play the Denver Broncos. As of right now, that game will begin at 4:05 eastern.
“There’s a long way to go and we’ve got to start stringing some wins together. I definitely think this helps in terms of team morale and confidence, but we’ve got to use this momentum, carry it over, have some good practices and continue to go out there and play well,” Fitzpatrick said.