The Miami Dolphins were coming out of their bye week with a brand new quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa who was set to go up against the Los Angeles Rams and the best defensive player in the NFL, defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
But the limelight quickly shifted to the Miami defense and special teams that would end up scoring two touchdowns to help the Dolphins upset the Rams 28-17. Overall, Miami had just eight first downs throughout the whole game, compared to LA’s 31. Time of possession was also very lopsided with the Rams having the ball for 13 more minutes than the Dolphins.
You Get a Turnover, You Get a Turnover, We All Get Turnovers!!!
Miami’s defense forced four turnovers, two interceptions and three fumbles while recovering two of them. This game felt like a coming out party for the Miami defense as they were forcing turnovers all game and held Rams QB Jared Goff to just one touchdown and forced a multitude of his turnovers. Even defensive tackle Christian Wilkins ended up with an interception, and for those of you keeping score at home, that’s uncommon.
“Let me take you to the mind of a defensive back. They called me to drop, it’s all in the hips,” Wilkins said when asked about the interception. “I saw the line of the quarterback. I saw where he wanted to go so I just had to break, follow his eyes. I was able to break and make a nice play for the team. Just happy to make plays that can help us win.”
Ogbah, Van Ginkel Play to be Put on Dolphins’ All-Time Highlight Reel
Safety Eric Rowe also ended up with an interception, and linebacker Kyle Van Noy recovered one of the two fumbles after defensive end Shaq Lawson made a great punch-out play on the ball. The best play on defense though had to have come from LB Andrew Van Ginkel’s scoop and score. Despite playing just 34 percent of the snaps on defense, he picked up a fumble caused by a monster sack from an untouched Emmanuel Ogbah on Goff and took it 78 yards to the house that ultimately was the beginning of the end for LA.
Jakeem Grantelope Prancing to the HOUSE
Not even one drive later on the punt return, Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant took a trip to the house himself on an 88-yard TD return putting Miami up 21-7. The Dolphins have had some tough opponents so far, but this was their best performance on defense and special teams this season.
“I love defense, but I love offense, I love special teams, too. I think you all know I got my start in the kicking game coaching. I love all areas of the game. I thought the defense played well,” Miami head coach Brian Flores said on the team stepping up. “I thought the special teams played well, and then offensively we made plays when we needed to make them.”
Rams Defense Shut Down Miami’s Offense
The defense and special teams took away from Tagovailoa’s NFL welcome, but the LA defense was sure to get on some of the defensive talk on Sunday as well.
Tagovailoa was met with a rough opening drive as Donald strip sacked him on his first pass attempt of the game and gave him a nice WWE back landing on the grass.
Tagovailoa, Parker Score Smallest Margin of Error TD in NFL this Season
The Dolphins won though, without much from Tagovailoa and the offense in general, as Tagovailoa had just 93 yards and one TD on a short and very accurate three yard pass to WR DeVante Parker. The 0.28 yards of separation on the score is the smallest margin of any pass in the NFL so far this season. Not bad, rook.
Tagovailoa Critical of First Start, Flores Emphasizes Team Game
“I don’t think I played to the standard of what this offense is capable of. There were certain plays where I could have stepped up and made the right throw, made the right decision,” Tagovailoa said on how he played in his first game. “But I’ve heard it many times from the guys in the locker room – it’s good that we still came out with the win.”
Tagovailoa had some strong moments that showed his promise and also had some rookie moments in his first game. Flores was happy with Tagovailoa making enough plays to secure the win, but has constantly stressed a team first mentality.
“It’s like what we talk about on a daily basis, it takes a team effort. There’s 11 guys on the field, there’s 53 guys on the roster, 16 guys on the practice squad. All these guys work hard,” Flores said. “Everybody’s role is important. But total team effort, offense, defense, special teams.”