On Sunday, fans got to see a game that showed what the Miami Dolphins are capable of on defense, despite them missing multiple starters. The Miami secondary forced Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes to toss a career-high three interceptions and nearly overcame a 20-point deficit in what turned into a six-point loss, 33-27.
In the game full of runs, the Dolphins had the opportunity on Sunday to get a big win against the reigning Super Bowl Champions, but an injury-plagued Miami team came up just short in the valiant comeback. The Dolphins fall to 8-5 on the season and into the No. 7 and current final AFC playoff seed, while Kansas City climbs to 12-1 and the No. 1 overall AFC seed.
Dolphins Defense Struck Early, Often
The Dolphins went to work quickly, striking first offensively and defensively to where they were able to have a 10-0 early lead. On the first drive of the game for the Dolphins defense, they forced Mahomes’ first interception after position linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel tipped the ball perfectly to cornerback Byron Jones. Then, on the second Chiefs drive, the Dolphins forced a three-and-out punt on what should be the sack of the year. That came from perhaps the sack of the year. Outside linebacker Jerome Baker chased down Mahomes and finally caught him for a loss of 30 yards right near Kansas City’s own goal line.
Tua Tagovailoa, Mike Gesicki Each Started Early With Their Big Games
Offensively, the Dolphins got into the end zone first after tight end Mike Gesicki caught a touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the first quarter. They added to the lead in the second quarter five minutes in with a 31-yard field goal from kicker Jason Sanders. Up 10-0, it appeared that the underdog Dolphins had all of the momentum despite their personnel disadvantage. But, remembering how the Chiefs made it to the Super Bowl last season, a comeback was surely looming.
Kansas City Answered With Two TDs to Take Halftime Lead
Going into the half, the Chiefs scored 14 unanswered points in the final eight minutes of the quarter. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill broke free for a 32-yard rushing TD tip-toeing down the right sideline to cut the Dolphins lead down to three points. Then, Mahomes threw a six-yard TD to TE Travis Kelce to take the 14-10 lead into the locker room.
Chiefs Carry Momentum Into Second Half, Score 62 Seconds Apart
In the third quarter, it was more of the same. Starting with the ball, the Chiefs and Hill broke free once again for a 44-yard TD after beating Dolphins backup safety Clayton Fejedelem after Bobby McCain left with an undisclosed injury.
Then, 62 seconds later, Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman scored on a 67-yard punt return to increase Kansas City’s lead to 18 points. Miami would then find itself down 20 after the pocket collapsed and Tagovailoa was sacked in the end zone.
Miami Comes Roaring Back
Then, seemingly out of nowhere once the fourth quarter began, a new Dolphins team walked onto the field.
In the fourth quarter, trailing by 20, the Dolphins made one final push that helped make it a nail-biter. Gesicki caught another TD, a 29-yarder from Tagovailoa to cut the lead to 13 with 12 minutes to go in the game.
After keeping the Chiefs scoreless offensively for most of the quarter, the Dolphins scored again after their rookie quarterback scored on a one-yard run to bring the lead back down to six points.
Butker, Chiefs Seal Deal
Trailing 30-24, the Chiefs sealed the win after having kicker Harrison Butker put them up 33-24. A field goal from Sanders with 16 seconds remaining made it a one-score game again, but there wasn’t enough time left on the clock for Miami.
Flores: “Team Resilient” With Fight Against Top Team
“We have a resilient team,” head coach Brian Flores said during the postgame press conference. “They don’t quit. At the end, we didn’t make enough plays to win the game. We have to play better. We prepared the right way and just didn’t make enough plays. This is a good team and they made more plays than we did.”
Mahomes, Tagovailoa Notch 300-Yard Games
Mahomes finished the day 24-for-34 for 393 yards, two TDs and three INTs. Tagovailoa on the other hand went 28-for-48 for 316 yards, two TDs and his first career INT that bounced off the chest of WR Jakeem Grant.
“I’m very confident with whatever guys I’m playing with,” Tagovailoa said during the postgame press conference. “I get a good amount of reps with a lot of the guys. Starters go one hard rep and sometimes they’re nicked up. For timing purposes, they take one rep, two reps here and then I’m with these other guys. Those guys did a good job stepping up because those guys were down. It’s never a good feeling when you lose guys.”
Dolphins Lose Four Starters
But, while the game showed strides in terms of competition on both sides of the football, the Dolphins left it even more depleted than when they started.
Gesicki, McCain, Parker and Grant all left the game with injuries and are currently questionable for Sunday’s home finale against the New England Patriots.
Kelce finished as the leading receiver for the Chiefs, and for the game, with eight catches (10 targets) for 136 yards and a score. Hill also eclipsed more than 100 total yards (79 receiving, 32 rushing) and two total TDs.
For Miami, it was surprisingly rookie RB/WR Lynn Bowden Jr. who finished with seven receptions (nine targets) for 82 yards.
On the ground, Hill and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (16 carries) each finished with 32 yards. Miami’s run-defense had its best game of the season limiting its rushers to two yards per carry.
For Miami, DeAndre Washington finished with 13 carries for 35 yards.
While early, ESPN has the Patriots favored with a 51.8-percent chance of winning Sunday’s matchup. But, if Miami can get a few key starters back, those odds will likely shift. The Dolphins home finale will kickoff at 1 p.m. eastern.