Despite the Dolphins taking a lead with 2:27 to play in the game, Falcons QB Matt Ryan orchestrated an impressive drive to put Younghoe Koo in position to kick the 36-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired, giving Miami its sixth-straight loss. While the Dolphins continue to struggle to close out games,, the team did show growth in some key areas to build upon moving forward.
As always, for further analysis, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield.
1. First Time Occurrences on Offense
The offense found its footing over the last two weeks. Miami eclipsed 400 net yards in back-to-back games for just the second time since 2016. That production coincides with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's return to the lineup, but it's been a group effort.
Against the Falcons, Miami tight ends produced 14 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown, while running backs chipped in with seven catches for 35 yards and a touchdown, in addition to the team's 132-yard rushing performance. Mack Hollins and Isaiah Ford also hauled in passes from Tagovailoa for touchdowns (the first of Ford's career).
Miami's second-year quarterback completed 80 percent of his passes and delivered the first four-touchdown passing performance of his young career. That statistical showing pushes Tagovailoa's career passer rating to 89.3.
The other ingredient behind the production, the offensive line…
2. Upward Trajectory on the Offensive Line
Last week, Jacksonville was unable to sack Tagovailoa. This week, one could argue the showing was better. Even though the Falcons did register one sack, the pressure number dropped from 20 down to 12 (per PFF).
Liam Eichenberg was charged with one pressure (a hurry) in what was his best showing in terms of pressures and grade from PFF. Austin Reiter was charged with just two pressures (no hits) in his Dolphins debut while Jesse Davis surrendered just one pressure.
The Dolphins also averaged 4.55 yards per rush with 132 total yards on the ground, both the second-best total on the year (Week 3 in Las Vegas, 133 yards and 4.93 yards per rush).
3. Playmakers on Defense Make Plays
The Dolphins defense surrendered 10 points off turnovers, including a short field after a long interception return, but otherwise made a handful of plays. Removing the short-field touchdown, the Dolphins put together a string of defensive stands that resulted in two punts, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Xavien Howard's second interception of the year was a classic 'X' pick, undercutting an over route and taking the ball away from the Atlanta receiver. PFF charted Howard with one reception allowed for 28 yards and a passer rating of 2.1 on eight targets.
Emmanuel Ogbah's forced fumble was the result of relentless effort. Ogbah wound up behind the quarterback but stayed in pursuit and it paid off with a big takeaway.
Rookie Jevon Holland had the hit of the day and chipped in with a sack of his own on Matt Ryan.
Christian Wilkins registered six more tackles, moving him into second place among all interior defensive linemen (PFF). He also leads all defensive linemen from the 2019 class in career tackles and ranks sixth this season at his position in run-stop win percentage (43). He also has 12 QB pressures, which lands him as the No. 9 overall graded interior lineman.
Miami will look to build off these positive signs and buck the losing skid next week in Buffalo.