Miami’s amped-up five-game winning streak finally got a hold of them, as they dropped a road game to the Denver Broncos 20-13.
In a game where not much was going on for either side of the ball, the Week 11 loss drops the Dolphins to 6-4 on the season and leaves them pondering on what could have gone wrong in a contest they were highly favored to win.
Let’s take a look at Chan Gailey’s defense, who had no answer for the running attack of the Broncos:
Denver kept the ball on the ground.
The Broncos’ run game, headlined by Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay, resulted in 166 yards between the two, along with another 23 yards from quarterback Drew Lock. Additionally, both of Denver’s touchdowns came from Gordon.
Denver concluded Sunday’s contest with 189 rushing yards on 33 carries, an average of 5.73 yards per carry. That’s the highest average they’ve given up since their Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers (131 yards, 19 carries, 6.89 average).
The only time Miami limited Denver’s running scheme was on a 4th and 1 early in the third quarter and when Gordon fumbled the ball at the goal line late in the fourth quarter, giving Miami another chance of life. Of course, that final drive ended in an interception.
Offensive struggles lead to defensive break downs.
Tua Tagovailoa and his offense looked sluggish from the jump, and it continued on when things mattered most. Five of their 10 drives resulted in three and outs, while their only touchdown came with comfortable scoring territory thanks to a Xavien Howard interception, his sixth of the season.
Tagovailoa’s rhythm-less possessions resulted in the defensive playing a total of 30 minutes and 19 seconds. His 11 completions for just 89 yards didn’t help, either.
Tua’s production ultimately led to him being benched for veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Lack of pressure on Drew Lock.
Entering Sunday’s game, Lock had thrown five interceptions in the past four games, highly due to him being ambushed by opposing defensive lines. That cycle seemed to repeat again for Lock early on against Miami, starting the game with an interception on his first drive and zero completions on six attempts.
However, that pressure the Dolphins had forced became a rare sight to see later in the game. The stat sheet says it all, as Lock was not sacked the entire game, which as of late has been a staple in the Dolphins defense.
As hard as they tried, the front seven for Miami could not get in the backfield in time to bring down Lock. Those confusing strategies they gave Lock was not enough, as he ended the game with 270 passing yards on 18 completions, surpassing Miami’s average allowed passing yards of 243.8.
Defensive focus leading into Week 12
The Dolphins will get a chance to bounce back next week at MetLife Stadium as they face the New York Jets, who are 0-10 on the season. The last time these two played was in Week 6, where the Dolphins won 24-0 and got the second win of their five-game winning streak.
Miami must focus on stopping opponents’ rushing attack, as they did to a Frank Gore-led group last time around (115 yards, 22 carries, 5.23 average). They have already found ways to pressure the opposing quarterbacks in the passing game. Now, finding ways to neutralize opposing running backs will make this defense very difficult to beat.