Miami Bounce Back Game Depends, In Part, On Running Game
The Dolphins once again face a struggling run defense. Against the Houston Texans Miami rushed for just 26-66. Houston ranks 32nd in rush yards allowed on defense. The Dolphins fared better in their 39-17 win over the Cleveland Browns. Miami piled up 33-195 on the ground. For a Miami bounce back game against the Los Angeles Chargers the Dolphins must take advantage of the 27th ranked run defense. Miami must run the ball better, and more often, than they did against the San Francisco 49ers.
Jeff Wilson Jr. averages more than five yards a carry, and has been the featured back since being traded for the 49ers. He and Raheem Mostert compliment each other well, and both need touches to find a rhythm. Miami can hit big plays to Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, but they need to balance that against keeping the Chargers Justin Herbert off the field.Tackle Terron Armstead starting for Miami helps.
Dolphins Start Slow Against Banged Up Los Angeles Defense
Three plays and out on offense for Miami , all Tua Tagovailoa incompletions to Hill and Waddle. Kader Kohou holds away from the play when the Dolphins had the Chargers at third and ten. Third and nine sees at Miami’s 41 Mike Williams make a tremendous catch for Los Angeles, setting them up in the red zone. The Dolphins defense bends, but Kohou holds DeAndre Carter two yards short of the end zone on fourth and goal.
Tua finally connects with Hill for a thirteen yard completion. Mostert’s first two carries net just one yard. Tua starts 2-7-13 in the first two drives. Williams and Herbert connect again to put Los Angeles inside the Dolphins 40. Christian Wilkins shows up again, the Chargers line cannot block him one-on-one so far, and he sacks Herbert at the end of the first quarter.
Miami Must Find Answers For Chargers Coverage
Cameron Dicker puts the Chargers up 3-0 after Miami holds Ekeler five yards short on third and 16. Dolphins running game so far: three carries, minus two yards. Kyle Van Noy with two big plays for Los Angeles, the second a sack of Tua. The Dolphins best chance at a big play misses, as Hill breaks wide open in the middle of the field but cannot locate the ball. An excellent return of 23 yards by Carter sets up the Chargers at Miami’s 43. Miami’s punt coverage issues continue.
Joshua Kelley breaks off a 22 yard to set up Los Angeles at the 12. The toe tap by Williams in the back of the end zone from 10 yards makes it 10-0 Chargers. Only five net yards of offense for in their first three drives. An absolute broken play leads to Miami’s first touchdown. Hill picks up Wilson’s fumble and flies down the far side for the 57 yard score. Will that quick score help or hurt the Miami defense, which has already been on the field 14:53 of the first half?
Finally The Dolphins get a three out as Eric Rowe tracks down Herbert from behind at Chargers 21. A 20 yard run by Wilson finally gives Miami some momentum on the ground. Tua completes a third and ten slant to Cedrick Wilson, but the drive stalls after two incompletions and Mostert being tripped for a just two yard gain.
End Of The Half Finds Game’s Momentum In The Balance
Wilson suffers a hip injury on his 20 yard run, and he is questionable to return. Chargers quickly move off their 10, as Herbert starts the drive 4-5 for 51 yards. Two huge completions to Kenan Allen, and one to Eckler, put the Chargers in position to add to their lead. Allen takes Herbert’s shovel pass to the 27. Chargers convert again on third and long, this one 18 to Joshua Palmer to Miami’s 9. Eckler gets all the way to the one a screen, as the Dolphins play their coverage to far off Los Angeles’ receivers. Ekeler scores from a yard away to put the Chargers back up 10. Miami must stop Los Angeles on their first drive and find a way to sustain drives in the second half.
Good News, Bad News For Miami At The Start Of The Second Half
Good news for the Dolphins as Miami tries to bounce back from last weeks loss to the 49ers, the defense gets off the field quickly. The bad news: Miami goes three and out as well, and Wilson is out for the rest of the game with a hip injury. Not only that Hill has hurt his ankle and is trying to battle through it. A late flag keeps the Chargers drive alive, as Jaelen Phillips is called for roughing the passer, erasing a sack. Miami recovers and holds Palmer two yards short of the first at Los Angeles’ own 41.
Tua’s line so far: 3-17-25-0-0 and a 39.6 rating. What can he Mike McDaniel find to get their team back in the game? For all their struggles one completion to Hill makes it 17-14 Chargers. Hill’s ankle, either through adrenaline or a good tape job, appears to be fine on the 60 yard strike from Tua.
Herbert hits Williams for a huge bomb, as Xavien Howard fails to touch him at the 30. Williams makes it all the way to the 15. Miami manages to hold them to a 31 yard field goal, extending the Chargers lead back to six. Two runs take Miami over midfield, one from Mostert, one from Tua. Tua’s sacked for a 12 yard loss, ending the drive. Dolphins again get off the field, this time after a nine yard completion on first down, Herbert to Gerald Everett. An incompletion and just a one yard gain to Allen end Los Angeles’ drive.
Miami’s O Must Find Life In Fourth Quarter
Waddle catches his first pass to start their first drive of the fourth quarter. Tua’s scrambling again picks up a first down over midfield. Tua’s called for grounding on second and nine, killing a promising drive. Tremendous throw from Herbert to Allen keeps the Los Angeles drive alive on third and five. Allen hurts Miami again, picking up a third and three. Allen and Herbert connect for 19, leaving Miami desperate for a turnover. 9-17 for the Chargers on third down has kept to Dolphins defense on the field for almost 37 minutes.
The Chargers dodge a bullet, as Herbert recovers a bad snap at Miami’s 6. Los Angeles leads 23-14 with just 2:40 left on Cameron Dicker’s third field goal of the night. Miami now must score twice with no timeouts to likely keep its hopes of an AFC East title alive.
It now comes down to an onside kick, as another Miami drive bogs down just over midfield. Jason Sanders makes his best kick all season, a 55 yarder, to cut the lead to 6. Miami had a chance to recover the onside kick, but could not come up with it. Los Angeles comes away with a huge win for their playoff hopes.
Miami Has Little Time To Recover
Los Angeles outgained Miami almost exactly two to one, 432-219. The Dolphins receivers failed to beat the Chargers press coverage, and Tua finished just 10-28-145-1-0 passing. Miami must find a way to flush this loss quickly as they travel to play the Buffalo Bills Saturday night.
What can Mike McDaniel do to help Tua find a rhythm against a tough Bills defense? Miami ran just 19-92, mostly because they trailed the entire second half Jeff Wilson’s injury hurt, although Mostert had a few decent runs. Tua’s scrambles added 3-28 to the total.
How healthy the Dolphins defense will be also is a concern, as their secondary continues to be hit by injuries. Eric Rowe, a veteran safety, missed almost the entire second half If the Dolphins want to make the playoffs they will have to battle through those injuries, now with far less room for error.
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