A big play by the Vikings defense proved to be the difference in a game that featured several defensive stands and 16 punts.
After scoring a touchdown and forcing a three-and-out, Miami had an opportunity to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Instead, Vikings safety Harrison Smith forced a fumble by wide receiver Jaylen Waddle deep in Minnesota territory to turn the ball over, and the Vikings quickly followed with a touchdown to take control of the game.
With the game out of reach, the Dolphins lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 24-16, on Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
"It's disappointing. (The) guys put a lot into this game," head coach Mike McDaniel said. "I was very happy with the way we prepared, I think guys were ready to play and then a lot of stuff happened, which is the nature of football … [The loss] hurts a lot of people, but it can be a step in the direction we want to go if we use it appropriately."
Rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson made his first career NFL start but was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater in the first half after injuring his right thumb. Bridgewater threw for 329 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Receiver Tyreek Hill had a team-high 177 yards, breaking the franchise record for most receiving yards through the first six games of the season. Tight end Mike Gesicki had two touchdown receptions.
It was all defense in the first half, as neither team scored until Miami broke the ice well into the second quarter with a field goal. The Dolphins' defense was especially stout, allowing no first downs and only 15 yards on Minnesota's first four drives.
Miami's second drive of the game nearly ended with a score, as the Dolphins made it to Minnesota's 24-yard line. Thompson established his connection with receiver Jaylen Waddle, who had receptions of 30 and 18 yards on the possession. However, penalties plagued Miami, forcing it to punt.
The Dolphins got on the board thanks to kicker Jason Sanders' 44-yard field goal with 6:05 left in the second quarter.
Teddy Bridgewater replaced Thompson on the drive and completed his first pass, a 17-yard strike to tight end Mike Gesicki. Running back Raheem Mostert did the rest, rushing for 18 yards on four carries to put Miami in field goal range.
Minnesota finally found the end zone with 2:32 remaining in the second. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Irv Smith Jr. to put the Vikings up 7-3.
Miami had an opportunity to narrow the gap on the ensuing drive, but Sanders missed a 52-yard field goal wide right.
With 23 seconds left before halftime, Bridgewater threw an interception over the middle of the field that led to a 34-yard field goal by Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph. The Vikings led 10-3 at the break.
The third quarter was similar to the first, featuring zero points and six punts.
But both offenses eventually found their footing in the fourth. The Vikings opened the quarter with a two-yard touchdown pass to receiver Adam Thielen. Joseph missed the extra point, though, making it 16-3.
Bridgewater then led a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to make it a one-possession game. First, he found Hill over the middle for a catch and run that gained 28 yards.
In the red zone, Bridgewater scrambled to his right on second down for 10 yards and then threw a four-yard touchdown pass on the next play to Gesicki, who celebrated by doing the "Griddy," a popular dance move, all the way to the sideline as fans roared in approval.
But Waddle fumbled soon after and the Vikings quickly scored a touchdown with 3:15 left in the fourth, effectively ending the game.
Bridgewater threw one more touchdown pass to Gesicki with 1:31 remaining, capping an 83-yard drive that lasted just over a minute, but it was too little too late.
Next up, the Miami Dolphins face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Oct. 23 at Hard Rock Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. in front of a nationally-televised audience on NBC.