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Three Takeaways: Dolphins Lose Primetime Heartbreaker 28-27 to Titans

The party was on after Raheem Mostert's second rushing touchdown in the span of 59 seconds of game time. Now tied for the franchise record in both rushing touchdowns (16) and total touchdowns (18), Mostert appeared to put the game away with 4:39 remaining.

But the Titans quickly scored and converted a two-point conversion, held the Dolphins to a three-and-out, then marched right back down the field before stopping the Miami offense one last time.

It was a shocking loss in that takes Miami down to the second place in the conference with the NFL's toughest remaining schedule over the final four weeks.

Here are three takeaways from Miami's 28-27 loss to the Tennessee.

1. Self-inflicted errors

The Dolphins had plenty of chances to put the Titans away, particularly early in the game. The first three red zone trips for the Fins produced just six points (two field goals and a lost fumble). 

"I felt like we just lost a lot of points there," Head Coach Mike McDaniel said. "We've done out-of-character things to almost find a way to lose the game. The guys still fought, but you have to play a certain type of football to expect to win, and it's hard to get all the way down there and not to come up with touchdowns."

Tennessee blocked a 44-yard field goal in the second quarter and an unsportsmanlike conduct foul on Bradley Chubb turned a fourth down into a first down for the Titans. Derrick Henry found the end zone just three plays later, making it a four-point swing.

Miami committed seven penalties for 61 yards and the Titans picked up 144 yards on 13 plays in their rapid comeback – good for 11.1 yards per play.

2. Insult to injury

Coming into the game, the Dolphins were the only team in the NFL without a loss to a team with a losing record. Few teams have taken care of business like the Tua Tagovailoa-led Dolphin, not just this season, but going back to 2021's seven-game winning streak. As we'll cover in the third takeaway, the loss is far from fatal, but the hits to the roster bear monitoring.

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill played just 37 snaps in the game after suffering an ankle injury on a sideline tackle. Center Connor Williams exited and was quickly declared out for the remainder of the game.

If Williams is out for an extended period of time, it's a substantial hit to the Miami offense. Tagovailoa was under pressure on 39 percent of his drop backs and sacked five times – both season-highs for the normally quick-triggered southpaw. Miami's highest pressure rates this season have come in the absence of their Pro Bowl caliber center.

The Dolphins played three-plus quarters without four of their projected starters on the offensive line. Hill played his third-lowest snap count of the season, and the defense – who entered the game without Jaelan Phillips, Jerome Baker or Jevon Holland – lost safety DeShon Elliott ahead of the Titans comeback.

"I think there were a couple communication issues on the back end is what I saw, in terms of specifically the crossing routes," McDaniel said. "The defense with a couple guys that got hurt within the game should have never been in that situation."

The team always carries a next-man-up mentality but it certainly seemed like Miami's attrition was felt on Monday night.

3. Controllers of their own fate

With four games to play, Miami requires no outside help to achieve the top seed in the conference. Winning each game would give the Dolphins a 13-4 record and a head-to-head tiebreaker over the current top dog in the Baltimore Ravens, who they play in Week 17.

Miami's two-game lead in the division means a Week 18 win over Buffalo would result in the team's first division title since 2008.

It can be difficult to see the forest for the trees after a tough loss in the National Football League, but the Dolphins ability to respond to a disappointing loss will define the 2023 team.

For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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