It was another loss for the Miami Dolphins this Sunday in Las Vegas, however this loss to the Raiders felt different than the 35-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills last week. Miami put up a valiant fight, and even though Coach Flores would go on to say after the game that there are no “moral victories” in the NFL, even though the Dolphins couldn’t pull out a win in overtime, this was the next best thing for the team and their loyal fanbase. A close loss like Sunday’s where the team shows toughness and resiliency, is far better than getting destroyed by five touchdowns at home to a division rival. Call me Captain Obvious, I know.
Let’s take a look a what went right, what went wrong and what was just downright ugly in this week’s edition of Good, Bad, Ugly.
Miami shows toughness, resiliency and heart by staging a comeback in the closing seconds of regulation
After Miami scored the first two touchdowns of the game to take a 14-0 lead, Las Vegas went on a run, scoring 25 unanswered points en route to a two score lead in the 4th quarter. At that point, many Miami Dolphins’ fans, myself included, thought it was a wrap on another disappointing showing from the offense. Then, with their backs against the wall, Miami began to make things happen.
First, a field goal from Jason Sanders with 8:30 left brought the deficit to within one score. Then, with little time left, Jacoby Brissett engineered an 82 yard drive that left Miami with 1st and goal due to an endzone pass interference penalty. After a few stops, Miami faced 4th and goal with the game on the line. Brissett scrambled, made a defender miss, and dove into the endzone for the score! Then, he threw a dart to Will Fuller for the two point conversion to send this thriller into overtime.
While the outcome ultimately wasn’t exactly what we wanted, Miami was able to turn it around after last week’s debacle, to take Vegas into overtime and nearly steal a road win against a very good, unbeaten team while starting their backup quarterback. I, for one, am not discouraged after this loss. Plenty of things could have been done better, and they will certainly work to get those issues fixed, but the season is far from over.
The playcalling in this game was poor overall.
We can start with the obviously terrible decision to call a wide-receiver screen while backed up into their own endzone. Brissett misfired on a pass to his left, Jaylen Waddle caught the ball with no room to make a move and was immediately tackled in the endzone, gift wrapping two points and a possession to the Raiders. This was a call so frustratingly stupid, that according to Pro Football Reference, this was the first time in NFL history where a safety occurred on a completed pass that didn’t involve a turnover or a penalty. Three cheers for a new record…
Regardless of that bad call, Miami’s co-offensive coordinators, George Godsey and Eric Studesville called a vanilla and uncreative game throughout this entire contest until the end when they were forced to open their playbook and scheme route combinations that allowed receivers to get open downfield. Both men will need to do much better going forward if they don’t want defenses to key in on the dink and dunk game that was played for more than three quarters against the Raiders.
However, my least favorite play call of the game was the decision to kick a field goal to play for the tie in overtime. Miami faced a 4th and 2 with 3:38 left in the extra period. Instead of going for the first down and the touchdown, which would have won the game for the Dolphins, Brian Flores elected to have Jason Sanders kick a 50 yard field goal to tie it. I know he has faith in his defense, but Vegas had been moving the ball well since the second quarter and only needed a field goal to win. They immediately drove down the field behind the arm of Derek Carr and kicked the short field goal as time expired, sending Miami to a 1-2 record. I believe Miami, in Vegas, should have placed all their chips in the center of the table and gone for it on 4th down. In a hostile road environment, you don’t want to give the ball back to your opponent with an opportunity to win it late, and unfortunately, we all saw the reason why.
The referees stole this game away from Miami by not calling pass interference in the endzone in overtime
I know people will say that if Miami had done “this” better, or “that” better, then the game wouldn’t have come down to a call, or in this case, a non-call, in the endzone, however, it was very clear and obvious, with the ref looking right at Will Fuller being mugged before the ball arrived, that a pass interference penalty had just taken place in overtime and that Miami should have had 1st and goal at the 1 yard line with an opportunity to end the game with a touchdown.
Unfortunately, that call was egregiously not made. Be mad. You have every right to be. I was fuming. I still am, honestly. How can you call ticky-tack fouls on both teams all game long and then let this clear and obvious penalty with huge ramifications towards the outcome of this contest go un-called? A public apology from the league would be nice, however it still wouldn’t change that 1-2 record to a 2-1 one.
A lot of people will be down on the Dolphins today. A 1-2 record is not ideal, but I believe the team showed promise in the 4th quarter of yesterday’s loss. Hopefully they will be able to carry that momentum into a game against the Indianapolis Colts – who look very beatable at the moment – this upcoming Sunday in Miami.
How are you feeling about the Dolphins going forward this season? Who do you blame the loss to the Raiders on? Do you think they have what it takes to defeat the Colts this Sunday? Let me know on Twitter at @MBrave13 or in the comments below. Fins up!