1) Script was Perfect Early
Sunday's contest versus Kansas City could not have started any better for the Miami Dolphins. A tipped pass by linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel that dropped into the hands of cornerback Byron Jones for his first interception as a Dolphin. The turnover didn't result in points for the Miami offense, but the play set the tone for the entire first half. A sack by linebacker Jerome Baker for minus 30 yards deep in Kansas City territory gave quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense excellent field position. Tua drove the offense into the red zone, and moved the pocket to find tight end Mike Gesicki for a seven yard touchdown to take an early lead. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had only thrown two interceptions in 463 attempts coming into this week. After seven attempts in the first quarter against the Dolphins defense, Mahomes equaled his season high in passing turnovers. Miami took advantage of the second Mahomes interception and should have taken a 14-0 lead. A drop deep in the end zone resulted in a Jason Sanders 31-yard field goal and a 10-0 start. The Dolphins punched and counter-punched all afternoon with arguably the best team in the league. They were down multiple starters on both sides of the ball, and kept finding ways to stay in the game. This start was scripted perfectly, but Miami didn't quite achieve the separation on the scoreboard needed to defeat a team that's as talented as the Chiefs.
2) Too Many Explosive Plays
When you play Kansas City's offense, you're going to get tested and must cover the entire field for 60 minutes. The Dolphins defense was up to the challenge early, forcing takeaways and frustrating Mahomes and company. They held the league's most explosive offense to just 14 first half points, but it was only a matter of time before the Chiefs went over the top. The first drive of the second half started harmlessly, with a check down pass to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The rookie took the flat pass, eluded multiple defenders, and turned that simple completion into a 25-yard gain. Two plays later, Mahomes took advantage of an injury to safety Bobby McCain, and went deep down field and found Tyreek Hill behind coverage. The result was a 45-yard scoring strike and a Chiefs 21-10 lead. Even though the Dolphins defense played well, they gave up too many chunk yardage plays along the way. Touchdowns of 32, 44 and at least 15 plays going for 13 yards or more. You must also include the explosive punt return for touchdown by Mecole Hardman, that went for 67 yards that extended the KC lead to 28-10. Kansas City has a team that can score quickly, moving down the field on scoring drives that last just over a few minutes. Miami's defense stalled and slowed down this high-powered attack using multiple coverages and different looks up front along the line of scrimmage. But like most of the defenses the Chiefs face, they have too many players that can defeat coverage and a quarterback that can distribute the ball accurately to out score you!
3) Dolphins Have Grit
The Dolphins are a team that is still challenging for a playoff spot with just three games remaining on this year's schedule. They will need to overcome injuries and two road games if they want to get to extend their season. If Sunday's game against Kansas City is any indication of the fight and grit of this team, I would say that I like their chances. Starter after starter went down and it seemed like the next man up was ready to take the field and produce. When DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant left with injuries, it was Mack Hollins and Lynn Bowden that stepped up and produced. Those are just two examples of positions and players answering the challenge. The Dolphins as a team did the same thing down the stretch, late in the fourth quarter. Down 30-10, the defense answered when cornerback Xavien Howard turned back the Chiefs offense with his ninth interception of the season. Howard's one-handed snag lead to another one-handed catch, this time by tight end Mike Gesicki. His touchdown catch over two Kansas City defenders cut the deficit to 30-17. A sack by Christian Wilkins, Miami's third of the day on Mahomes, got the ball back to the offense. Tagovailoa then drove the offense over 70 yards to close the gap to just a one score game. The Dolphins offense scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and the defense continued to fight too, getting key stops along the way. That's what you love to see as a fan of this team, and hopefully that type of effort and grit will continue down the stretch.