FRANKFURT, GER – In one of the most important games in recent memory for the Miami Dolphins, the offense laid an egg early and had to claw their way back into the game, only to come up short anyway.
Being down 21-0 is a tough deficit to come back from, especially against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, but the offense played off a stellar Miami defensive performance and found themselves down by seven late. Their final drive ended with a botched snap, sealing a 21-14 win in favor of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Despite playing arguably the best team in the NFL, the Dolphins held their own and had numerous chances to tie this game up or even take the lead. But mental mistakes through a crucial turnover and numerous penalties killed the Fins in the long run, who now find themselves with a 6-3 record heading into a bye.
A Bad First Half And Its Consequences
Despite being played in Frankfurt, Germany, a sea of red cheered on the Chiefs in the NFL’s first-ever venture into the city – they held a game in Munich last year.
Kansas City wasted only three minutes scoring their first touchdown of the day, and it felt like we were going to see the offensive shootout we were promised, only for SEVEN STRAIGHT PUNTS. Strangely enough, it seems like this always happens when two offensive-oriented squads match up like this.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense was flat, with Tyreek Hill struggling to find open grass against his former team. The running game led by Raheem Mostert couldn’t find a big break, either. The bright side was that the Chiefs had no success through all of this.
That was…until five minutes into the second quarter, where the 2x Super Bowl champ worked his magic, forming a 13 play, 95-yard drive that was filled with 1- to 20-yard darts down the field, and a quick rush in front of the end zone raised the lead to 14-0.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!!?! pic.twitter.com/DnfmGOunnL
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 5, 2023
What happened next was an inexplicable mistake that, looking back, cost Miami the game. Tua and the offense finally got some rhythm with Hill and Jaylen Waddle finally getting open. But on a screen pass to Hill, he was immediately hit, fumbled the ball, and KC recovered for a 59-yard scoop and score.
21-0 just like that. Similarly to another football team based in Miami, being down that much in the first half is a tough hill to climb, and halftime adjustments would determine if the Fins would come back or be blown out.
The Defense Puts The Team On Its Back
Whatever halftime adjustments Miami made may have needed an extra minute, as a pair of punts by both teams signaled the start of Quarter #3.
Alas, the Dolphins finally got onto the board thanks to an eight-play drive capped off with a 31-yard laser to Cedrick Wilson Jr. Just like that, Miami had some hope in this game.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 5, 2023
Here’s something interesting to note – the Chiefs did not score a single point in the second half, as the Dolphins defense may have had their best half of football all season. Travis Kelce was limited all game, and the running game could only do so much thanks in part to the Fins defensive line. Coordinator Vic Fangio had this team ready to play in the third quarter and onward.
To emphasize this, Bradley Chubb forced a strip sack on Mahomes late in the third quarter, in which Miami recovered. Four plays later, Mostert was in the end zone and the Fins were only down 21-14.
After this, the defense made KC punt twice, giving the Dolphins offense two chances to tie this game in the fourth quarter.
On the first attempt, an eight-minute possession was squandered thanks to a sack near midfield.
And on the second, as the Fins found themselves within striking distance of the red zone, three straight incompletions led to a 4th and 10, and a botched snap by Connor Williams turned the ball over, giving the win to Kansas City.
Not Feeling Like A Guten Tag Right Now
Tua finished the day with 193 yards, one passing touchdown, 21 completions, and no interceptions, and was sacked three times. Not a bad game on his part, but once again the offense can’t play their best football against the best teams in the league.
Speaking of which, the Fins have lost six straight games against teams with a winning record, dating back to last season’s Week 3 win versus Buffalo. This is an annoying narrative that’s going to keep haunting this team until they can prove the naysayers otherwise.
2023 Miami Dolphins
6-0 vs teams with losing records
0-3 vs teams with winning records pic.twitter.com/KN1X3tlsFy
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) November 5, 2023
Hill’s first game against his former team was very subpar, as he only managed eight catches for 62 yards and no touchdowns, along with that inexplicable fumble that was turned into a touchdown. Mostert played his best football near the end, wrapping up with 85 yards and the final touchdown of the day for the Fins, but it was too little, too late.
On defense, both David Long Jr and Jevon Holland recorded eight total tackles, and both Chubb and Jaelen Phillips recorded a sack. It might not pop out stat-wise how good the defense performed, but they still limited the (WORLD RENOWNED) Chiefs offense to 14 points and shut them out in the second half. What more can you ask from them?
Funny enough, the Dolphins recorded 20 first downs, 292 total yards, and spent 30 minutes with the ball in hand – which is all more than the Chiefs. The Fins also committed three fewer penalties, but it was all meaningless in the end as the offense could not rise to the challenge.
The only good news here is that the Dolphins are still 6-3, and are still in first place in the AFC East, assuming Cincinnati beats Buffalo tonight. Through all the turmoil, Miami is in an excellent position to turn this around and be the dominant team that they’ve shown they can be.
As mentioned earlier, the Fins (Along with the Chiefs) will have the upcoming week off, as per the rule for international opponents. They’ll also stay in Miami as they host the 3-5 Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, November 19th at 1 p.m.