Dolphins Defense Key to Win

A win is a win. Never apologize for a win. Especially when it is just your 2nd win of the season. That said, the Miami Dolphins 17-9 win over the Houston Texans was ugly. Each team showed why both came into the game with  1-7 records as both teams were inept. They both did more than enough to lose the game. 

Miami turned the ball over 5 times. That’s not a typo. The Fins won despite fumbling the ball away 3 times and quarterback Jacoby Brissett throwing 2 interceptions.

Houston more than accommodated Miami though by turning the ball over 4 times themselves, committing 8 penalties for 60 yards and going 0-4 in the red zone. 

Neither team deserved to win the game, but fortunately the Fins defense made enough plays allowing them to pull out the win. In addition to forcing the 4 turnovers, Miami sacked Texans QB Tyrod Taylor 5 times and put pressure on him all game long. The Dolphins constantly blitzed Taylor and confused him by frequently putting 5-8 defenders at the line of scrimmage.

They also held the Texans to 73 yards rushing, stopped them 11 times in 18 tries on 3rd & 4th down while only allowing 14 first downs. 

The defensive prowess started on the first drive of the game when safety Jevon Holland had his 1st career interception in the back of the endzone after fellow safety Brandon Jones blitzed Taylor forcing him to throw early. 

Miami then went on a 12 play 75-yard drive that featured 2 long passes to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and tight-end Mike Gesicki and was concluded by a 6-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat by Myles Gaskin. Miami led 7-0 at the end of the 1st quarter, the 7th time in 9 games they have led at the end of the 1st quarter this season. That’s hard to believe for a team that is 2-7.

Fumbles by Gaskin and Holland on a punt return led to two Houston field goals. A 42-yard field goal by Miami’s Jason Sanders gave the Dolphins a 10-6 with 1:12 left in the 1st half. 

Texans QB Taylor then made the biggest mistake of the game on the ensuing drive. Right before running out of bounds after being chased by another heavy pass rush by the Fins, he carelessly flipped the ball down field where it was intercepted by Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker at the Texans 26-yard line. Baker did a great toe tap to get both feet in bounds. 

A few plays later Brissett hit wide receiver Mack Hollins in the back of the endzone for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 33 seconds left in the half to give Miami a 17-6 halftime lead. 

And that was pretty much the game. A Texans’ field goal was the only scoring in the 2nd half, which was filled with more turnovers, dropped passes, penalties, minimal pass protection by either team and little room to run for both teams. 

The 2nd half was 30 minutes of ineptness by both teams that was tough to watch. It was difficult to tell if it was good defense or terrible offense. Probably a little of both. 

Tyrod Taylor, who has had great success against the Dolphins in the past, had a particularly bad game. He never got a handle on what the Dolphins defense was doing at the line of scrimmage and he threw some terrible passes. He missed wide open receivers a few times including one to Danny Amendola that would have been a sure touchdown.

Other notes from the game were. 

  • QB Tua Tagovailoa didn’t start due to a broken middle finger on his throwing hand. He did dress and was available as the backup quarterback. His availability for the upcoming Thursday night game vs. the Ravens is unknown. 
  • Quarterbacks Brissett and Taylor had near identical passing lines. Brissett was 26-43 for 244 yards with 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions and a fumble while Taylor was 24-43 for 240 yards with 3 interceptions.
  • Miami’s offensive line struggled all day vs. the Texans defense, which came into game ranked as one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Brissett was sacked 4 times and was frequently under pressure while Miami only ran for 47 yards on 25 carries. 
  • Offensive tackles Liam Eichenberg and Jesse Davis need to play better, as they are allowing too much pressure on the QB. I’ll cut Eichenberg some slack as a rookie, but it may be time to give someone else an opportunity in place of Davis.
  • Miami only committed 2 penalties for 13 yards, its best showing of the season.
  • Waddle caught 8 passes for 83 yards while Gesicki had 4 receptions for 54 yards with 2 of the catches being highlight real one handed receptions.
  • WR Kirk Merritt was activated from the practice squad in light of the injuries to WRs DeVante Parker & Will Fuller and Preston Williams being a healthy scratch. Merritt, who had a strong pre-season, did little take advantage of his opportunity with only 1 catch for 13 yards and 2 dropped passes.

Even though the Dolphins picked up their 2nd win of the season, there was more bad than good in this game. They will need to elevate their level of play considerably if they hope to have a chance vs. the 6-2 Ravens on Thursday night at Hard Rock Stadium. 

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