Dolphins Rally Comes Up Short Against Cowboys

Posted Aug 4, 2013

Miami rallies from early 17-0 deficit but comes up short by a 24-20 score in the Hall of Fame game.

The Dolphins couldn’t quite come all the way back from a 17-0 deficit Sunday night, but they accomplished a lot of good things nonetheless in their preseason opener.

Two costly first-half turnovers proved the difference in the outcome as the Dallas Cowboys held on for a 24-20 victory in a Hall of Fame Game that featured a wild finish.

“We’ve talked a lot about ball security, we’ve spent a lot of practice time but it didn’t show up on the field today,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said after the game. “We’ve got to go back to work and we’ve got to get that corrected.”

The Dolphins ended up with a sizable yardage advantage in the game, outgaining Dallas 421-266, but the mistakes proved too much to overcome.

After scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter to pull within 17-13, the Dolphins had a chance to take their first lead after beginning a drive at their own 37 with just over three minutes left, but running back Jonas Gray was dropped for a 2-yard loss after catching a swing pass from Matt Moore on fourth-and-3.

Dallas then put together a quick touchdown drive to make it 24-13, but the Dolphins refused to quit. Moore quickly threw passes of 24 yards to tight end Kyle Miller and 27 yards to Keenan Davis to set up a 5-yard TD pass to Miller on fourth-and-goal.

The Dolphins ended up going for it on fourth down five times, and they converted three times.

“I thought the guys played hard,” Philbin said. “If we convert a couple more fourth-down plays, (avoid) the turnovers that we had, we probably win the game. Part of the things was we wanted to see who would step up and make plays. There were some good things.”

The outcome only was clinched when Dallas recovered the ensuing onside kick.

The Dolphins’ first touchdown came with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard pass from Pat Devlin to Davis on fourth-and-goal. Davis, a rookie from the University of Iowa, was signed by the Dolphins on Wednesday.

Trailing 17-3, the Dolphins had gone for it on fourth-and-6 from the Dallas 8-yard line late in the third quarter but Chad Bumphis was stopped 1 yard short of the first down after catching a pass from Devlin.

Dan Carpenter added two field goals for the Dolphins, hitting from 27 yards in the second quarter and 45 yards in the fourth.

Among the players who stood out for the Dolphins on Sunday were Derrick Shelby, who got the start at defensive end and responded with two sacks in the first half; Gray, who had a 29-yard run in the fourth quarter and also had three catches for 37 yards; and Bumphis, who had five catches for 85 yards, including a 45-yard gain in the second quarter.

Shelby got the start at right defensive end in place of Olivier Vernon, who is listed first on the depth chart but sat out the game.

“I was pretty excited (about starting),” Shelby said. “I’m not normally on the right side, but I had to take advantage of the opportunity that I had. I just want to show that I can come out here and play, too.”

First-round pick Dion Jordan also had an impressive outing in his first game in a Dolphins uniform. The defensive end showed off his versatility, rushing the passer on most downs but also dropping back in coverage at times.

He was particularly effective during a Dallas series near the end of the first half. Jordan was on the receiving end of a hands-to-the-face penalty on a Cowboys lineman on first down; stopped running back Joseph Randle after a 4-yard gain on first-and-18; then made the tackle on Randle 5 yards short of the first down after dropping back as a linebacker on third-and-15.

Jordan also provided the initial pressure on the play that resulted in Shelby’s second sack.

“I thought there were one or two times he got good pressure, he got around the quarterback a little bit,” Philbin said.

Last year’s Dolphins first-round pick, Ryan Tannehill, took 13 offensive snaps (including penalties) before being replaced late in the first quarter by Moore. Tannehill, who completed 2 of 5 passes for 11 yards, was taken out after converting a third-and-3 from the Dolphins 14-yard line with a 7-yard pass to Brandon Gibson.

Gibson started at wide receiver alongside Marvin McNutt, as returning starter Brian Hartline and free agent acquisition Mike Wallace both were kept out of the game. Other prominent Dolphins players who sat out included defensive tackles Jared Odrick and Randy Starks; Vernon; linebacker Dannell Ellerbe; and guards John Jerry and Lance Louis.

Moore played the rest of the first half at quarterback, completing 12 of 18 passes for 152 yards, before giving way to Devlin after halftime. Moore returned to the game for the Dolphins’ last two drives of the game. He ended up passing for 238 yards.

Philbin explained after the game that Moore returned to action in the fourth quarter because Devlin “got nicked up.”

The Dolphins trailed 17-3 at the half largely because their two turnovers led to Dallas touchdowns.

The biggest turnover came with the Dolphins trailing 10-0 in the second quarter and facing a third-and-9 from the Dallas 30-yard line. Moore’s pass went off the hands of Bumphis right into the arms of linebacker DeVonte Holloman. The rookie outraced Moore to the end zone for a 75-yard return for a touchdown.

That came three plays after Bumphis turned a short slant into a 45-yard gain to the Dallas 31-yard line.

The Dolphins’ first miscue occurred on their first offensive snap when Lamar Miller couldn’t cleanly handle Tannehill’s handoff on first down from the Miami 8-yard line. Dallas defensive lineman Nick Hayden fell on the loose ball at the 9, giving the Cowboys a first-and-goal.

“That’s obviously not the way you want to start any football game, I don’t care if it’s preseason game one or the Super Bowl or any game in between,” Philbin said. “It certainly was a surprise to have that happen.”

A pass-interference penalty on rookie cornerback Will Davis on third down gave Dallas a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. After getting stuffed for no gain on first down, Phillip Tanner was able to reach the goal line on second down for a touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.

Miller responded after the fumble, which was charged to Tannehill, with runs of 10 and 11 yards on the Dolphins’ ensuing possession.

“I just had to make up and look forward to the next play and just move the chains for the football team,” Miller said.

The Dolphins began their comeback attempt with a Carpenter field goal that capped a 12-play, 71-yard drive. The drive featured Moore completions of 9 and 18 yards to Gray and a 21-yard hook-up with wide receiver Jeff Fuller.

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