Losing back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 1 and 2 of 2020, the Dolphins return home to face the Colts and a chance to even their 2021 record next Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. Before then, let's unpack the takeaways from the 31-28 overtime loss in Las Vegas.
As always, for further analysis, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield.
Check out the top photos from Week 3 - Dolphins at Raiders on September 26, 2021, presented by AmeriSave Mortgage.
1. Plenty of Heart
The game followed a perfect opening script for the Dolphins with a quick 14 points sparked by a pair of defensive plays (Elandon Roberts' 85-yard interception return for a touchdown and a pair of short-yardage stops to re-possess the ball at the plus-34-yard-line).
Then, things stalled for a stretch. Las Vegas scored 25 unanswered points to widen their lead to two possessions in a game where the Miami offense was stuck in neutral for large stretches. Then, the defense bowed up after a Jason Sanders field goal pulled the team to within eight in the final moments. Converting a pair of fourth downs and a two-point conversion on a do-or-die drive, Jacoby Brissett brought Miami back to send the game to overtime. After the Raiders opened the extra period with a field goal, Miami converted again on fourth down, this time needing 20 yards to keep the game alive, before evening the score once more. In the end, the Dolphins didn't get the desired result, but they showed their mental makeup.
"These guys, they believe in each other," Brian Flores said. "I mean, I think we know how we work. We're always going to fight and give great effort. We just got to have better execution. But yeah, there are no moral victories. You know, those guys are disappointed in there. We want to win. That's our goal every week. We didn't get it done today. We didn't execute well enough. We'll go back, make some corrections and get back out there next week."
2. Balancing Conservatism vs. Aggressiveness
The offense's only scoring drive through three quarters came four plays after Las Vegas failed to convert a fourth down attempt from their own 34-yard-line. Following that touchdown and consequent 14-point lead, the Miami offense managed 107 yards on the ensuing five possessions with no points to show for.
Then, after falling behind by 11 points, Miami's next four possessions totaled 199 yards and produced 14 points. Those drives featured incompletions to DeVante Parker, Will Fuller and Mack Hollins totaling over 100 air yards among the three throws. The game situation dictated that Miami dial up an aggressive attack, but Flores said there were more opportunities to get vertical throughout the game.
"We needed chunk yardage and he pushed it," he said. "I thought we had some opportunities in other parts of the game. We didn't execute. Then later in the game, there were some instances where we did. But it wasn't enough, and we've got to do a better job."
3. Tip Your Hat to Carr, Raiders Offense
The Dolphins defense came out of the gates like a team with something prove. Las Vegas' first four possessions, a team who entered with the No. 1 offense in the league, resulted in a three-and-out, a pick six, a four-and-out and an additional punt. Then, when Miami's offense started to mount a comeback, the defense forced consecutive three-and-outs. In between those stretches, Derek Carr and the Las Vegas attack did their thing.
Miami minimized tight end Darren Waller to his lowest yardage output since Week 11 of 2020, and largely because of Byron Jones. The Miami cornerback followed Waller for most of the game and held Waller to 39 receiving yards on three receptions and five targets. The hat tip goes to Carr, who was pressured 18 times and hit on seven occasions (Pro Football Focus). Still, the eight-year vet threw for just under 400 yards with an aDOT (average depth of target) of 9.8 yards.