Miami Dolphins: Five takeaways from 33-27 loss to Kansas City Chiefs
MIAMI GARDENS — A fast start.
If you were drawing up a path for the Dolphins to upset the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, that’s a fine start.
For the Dolphins, that’s all it was. An early 10-0 Miami lead raised hopes, but in the end, the Dolphins lost 33-27 to a Chiefs team with more skill if both sides are at full strength, let alone a day when Miami’s depth was stretched beyond the limits at wide receiver, running back, linebacker and safety.
And that was even before tight end Mike Gesicki left the game in the fourth quarter with a possible injury to his right shoulder after catching two touchdown passes.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 393 yards and tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill each caught touchdown passes as the Chiefs (12-1) dropped Miami to 8-5 entering next Sunday’s home finale, against New England.
Despite trailing 28-10 in the second half, the Dolphins gamely made it interesting as Tua Tagovailoa hit Gesicki with a 29-yard touchdown pass. After a three-and-out, Tagovailoa scored on a 1-yard sneak to cap a 14-play, 75-yard drive, cutting the deficit to 30-24 with 4:15 remaining. Tagovailoa passed for 316 yards and two scores.
But the Chiefs took the ensuing kickoff and kept the chains moving before the teams traded field goals in the closing 1:12. The Chiefs clinched the win when Demarcus Robinson recovered an onside kick with 15 seconds left.
Takeaways from a game with a season-high 13,057 fans:
Dolphins defense did its part
CB Byron Jones forced a fumble and had an interception (his first since 2017), Eric Rowe had an interception and Kamu Grugier-Hill recovered a fumble as the Dolphins extended their streak to 19 games with a takeaway.
Then, CB Xavien Howard did what Xavien Howard always does, robbing Tyreek Hill of a touchdown pass with a leaping interception (more on that in a second).
Mahomes entered this game having thrown only two interceptions in 463 attempts, so nabbing two of his passes in the first half was more than anyone could ask for.
Well, you could ask for a sack of Mahomes for a loss of 30 yards, because that’s exactly what Jerome Baker gave Miami in the first quarter.
But the Dolphins were missing linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, who were inactive with injuries, and safety Bobby McCain left the game twice with injuries. As soon as Mahomes saw Clayton Fejedelem at deep safety in place of McCain, he sent Hill deep, resulting in a 44-yard touchdown and a 21-10 lead early in the third quarter.
An already uphill battle looked insurmountable.
Howard: player of year prospect?
Howard entered the game leading the league with eight interceptions. We’ve all seen him make athletic interceptions, but his grab in the fourth quarter was as fine as any he has made.
It wasn’t quite a one-handed, twisting pick, but it was close. Odell Beckham-like.
When the Dolphins put together a Howard highlight reel for his defensive player of the year candidacy, this will be front and center.
Speaking of which, it’s time national pundits start looking Howard’s way, because he certainly should be in the discussion.
Dolphins have to invest in skill positions
GM Chris Grier made plenty of good moves in the offseason, but taking care of the need at running back wasn’t one. Jordan Howard and Matt Breida failed to make an impact and Sunday, the Dolphins were without their top three running backs, forcing them to rely on DeAndre Washington, who has been a Dolphin for just over a month.
Package that with injuries at wide receiver, which seem to be an annual occurrence, and it’s obvious if Tua Tagovailoa is going to succeed, he needs an influx of playmakers surrounding him.
Right now he has WR DeVante Parker and Gesicki, who were both injured during the Chiefs game.
And that’s the entire list of dependable, proven skill threats on the roster.
Van Ginkel strikes again
Whatever LB Andrew Van Ginkel does to warm up for games ought to be bottled.
It’s not every Sunday that he makes a big play early — it just seems that way.
From forcing fumbles to blocking punts to recovering fumbles, Van Ginkel has made a habit of big plays that can turn a game in Miami’s favor.
Sunday, he tipped a Mahomes pass that allowed Jones to intercept.
On the next series, Mahomes narrowly beat out Van Ginkel on a scramble for a fumbled shotgun snap.
The Dolphins have now outscored opponents 97-48 in first quarters, and Van Ginkel has been a key reason.
Take that, Kelce!
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce caught a 32-yard pass in the third quarter that looks nice on the stat sheet.
It looked even better in real life, because if S Eric Rowe had covered Kelce any tighter, he would have been wearing Kelce’s No. 87.
The play happened in front of the Dolphins’ bench. Call it inspiration for what happened next.
The Dolphins have a good tight end of their own. Gesicki responded with a 29-yard TD reception from Tua Tagovailoa with S Juan Thornhill all over him.
Gesicki is no Kelce — only Kelce is — but his progress last season and this sets up the Dolphins for years to come.