The Good, the Bad and the Dolphins: Week 11, 2020 — Miami’s Win Streak Ends in Denver

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins

For the first time in more than a month on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins left the field as losers.

Miami struggled in a 20-13 road loss to the Denver Broncos. Coming in, the Dolphins were 6-3 and on a 5-game winning streak, but were thoroughly outplayed by the 3-6 Broncos.

Sunday provided Miami an opportunity to move into first place in the AFC East, but it was not in the cards. As customary, here is a look back on the good and the bad for the Dolphins:

The Good

There wasn’t a single area of the game where the Dolphins excelled, but for as bad as they played, they were in the contest until the final end. Offensively, the lone spark came from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who replaced starter Tua Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter.

Fitzpatrick entered with Miami down 10 and led the Dolphins on a field goal drive. On Miami’s final possession, Fitzpatrick drove his team from its own 1-yard-line to the red zone, but couldn’t lead his team to the tying touchdown. The Dolphins actually did a decent job, converting third downs, going 7-for-16.

Defensively, Miami was opportunistic and did a decent job of bending without breaking. Cornerback Xavien Howard’s sixth interception of the year set up the Dolphins’ only touchdown of the game. The six interceptions ties Howard with J.C. Jackson of the New England Patriots for the NFL lead in that category.

Miami was also able to turn Denver away twice in the red zone. The first time was midway through the third quarter as the Dolphins stopped the Broncos on fourth down. The last occasion came in the final quarter when they stripped Denver’s Melvin Gordon just before he crossed the goal line.

If there was a bright spot on Sunday for Miami, it was special teams. Kicker Jason Sanders continues to be a machine, going 2-for-2 on field goals with makes of 41 and 53 yards. Matt Haack averaged better than 47 yards per punt while the Broncos averaged just 3.3 yards on three returns.

The Bad

For the first time in his young career, Tagovailoa struggled mightily. Tagovailoa missed open receivers and did not do well handling pressure. He finished just 11-for-20 with 83 yards and a touchdown pass.

The offensive line did its rookie quarterback no favors. Miami allowed Tagovailoa to be sacked six times. Miami managed just 56 yards rushing on 17 attempts — good for a 3.3 yards per carry average.

Defensively, the Dolphins yielded 459 yards to a Denver offense that ranks outside the top 20 in the NFL. That was the second-most allowed by Miami all season. It was a season-high for the Broncos and just the third time all year that they surpassed 400 total yards.

Broncos’ quarterback Drew Lock passed for 270 yards while the ground attack went for 189 yards on a stellar 5.7 yards per carry. The Dolphins didn’t record a single sack and their top three tacklers were defensive backs.

Denver went just 4-for-12 on third down on Sunday, but Miami didn’t do itself any favors getting off the field. On Denver’s first touchdown drive, the Dolphins allowed the Broncos to convert a 3rd-and-10 before allowing Lock to scramble for a first down on 3rd-and-13 later on the drive. The Broncos’ second touchdown drive was kept alive by a roughing-the-passer call on linebacker Jason Strowbridge.

The Dolphins

With the loss, Miami falls to 6-4 and remains in second place in the AFC East. The Dolphins are now a full game back of the Buffalo Bills, who beat Miami at Hard Rock Stadium earlier this season.

The Dolphins are also now tied with two other teams for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. If the season ended today, the Las Vegas Raiders would get the nod over both Miami and the Baltimore Ravens.

Miami will remain on the road this week to take on the winless New York Jets. The Dolphins shut out the Jets 24-0 when the teams met in South Florida earlier this season.

At 0-10, New York is the only team in the NFL without a victory. The contest begins at 1 p.m. ET and airs regionally on CBS.

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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