Week 9 Review: Miami Dolphins Defeat the Arizona Cardinals

The Fins made a statement on Sunday afternoon.

The Miami Dolphins (5-3) beat the Arizona Cardinals (5-3) by a score of 34-31 in a wild back-and-forth game that saw 755 offensive yards between both squads. Both teams entered the contest riding high on three-game winning streaks; this win marks Miami’s longest streak since the 2016 season, according to Pro Football Reference.

The team was spurred on with point production by their defense, some magic from QB Tua Tagovailoa, and the leg of kicker Jason Sanders.

Be on the lookout for a closer look at what happened in the game, but for now, let’s take a glance at the quick hits from Miami’s wild win!

As always, questions or comments? Ask me on Twitter! @Donny_Diablo7


PM1_3633
Photo Credit: Miami Dolphins

Following a three-and-out to open the game for Miami, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (21-of-26, 283 yards, 3 TDs, 11 rush, 106 yards, TD) got his first chance with the football. Murray’s first two plays went for a combined 23 yards rushing, a precursor for how his game would go in that regard.

The Cardinals were driving — that is, before DE Emmanuel Ogbah (5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF) came around the corner, strip-sacked Murray, and watched as teammate DE Shaq Lawson (3 tackles, FR, TD) scored on a 36-yard run to give Miami a 7-0 lead.

It was Ogbah’s 7th sack of the year, and Lawson’s first-ever fumble recovery and touchdown in the NFL. Miami has now scored defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games for the first time since 2017 according to ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe.

Arizona would answer on their next possession, with the drive starting with a pass interference call on CB Xavien Howard covering WR DeAndre Hopkins. Howard had a good game against Hopkins, conceding just 3 receptions for 30 yards on 3 targets, but was flagged three times for pass interference totaling 43 yards.

Murray found WR Larry Fitzgerald (4 rec, 54 yards) for a 17-yard strike before capping Arizona’s first scoring drive with a touchdown strike to rarely used TE Maxx Williams (1 rec., 4 yards, TD) to knot the score at 7-7.

Miami’s next offensive possession almost was thwarted by what looked like a DB Jalen Thompson interception on a throw-away pass toward the sideline, but was overturned. QB Tua Tagovailoa (20-of-28, 248 yards, 2 TDs, 35 rush yards) then dealt drive-extending passes to WR Preston Williams (4 rec, 60 yards, TD) and TE Mike Gesicki (3 rec, 42 yards) to get the Fins inside the Arizona 20-yard line.

Once inside scoring range, OC Chan Gailey called a beauty of a play that saw Tua work through all three progressions before finding TE Durham Smythe (1 rec, 19 yards) for a 19-yard pass in the heart of the Cardinals defense. Running back Jordan Howard (10 rush, 19 yards, TD) would punch it in from two yards out to give the Fins a 14-7 lead.

Murray wasted no time on the team’s next possession, finding WR Christian Kirk (5 rec, 123 yards, TD) wide open for a 56-yard score to tie the game at 14-14. Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer loves to run Cover 0, and with no help over the top, it was all too easy for Murray.

Not to be outdone, Tua would hit WR Preston Williams for a 35-yard gain early in the subsequent series. The Fins were spurned from RB Salvon Ahmed, who powered through the Cardinals front for a 19-yard gain. It was the longest rush of the day for Miami, and the bulk of Ahmed’s team, leading 38 rushing yards on 7 attempts.

Tua would then find Williams again for a 9-yard score that resulted in a 21-14 lead for the Fins, but sadly, the end of the day for Williams, who left the game and did not return after taking a big hit on the play.

Cardinals were threatening again on the next drive, driving all the way down to the Miami 19-yard line on the legs of Murray and RB Chase Edmonds (25 attempts, 70 yards, 3 rec, 18 yards). Eric Rowe’s 6-yard tackle for a loss, coupled with a Murray incompletion on third down forced a successfully converted 37-yard goal attempt from kicker Zane Gonzalez to trim the Dolphins lead to 21-17.

The teams then traded back-to-back punts on their next series before Jason Sanders converted a 56-yard goal attempt to take the teams into the locker room with a score of 24-17, favoring Miami.


DSC_2676
Photo Credit: Miami Dolphins

The drama continued in the second half, with the Cardinals avoiding disaster when WR/KR Andy Isabella (2 rec, 10 yards) fumbled the ball on the opening kickoff. Arizona recovered and was on the move, spurned once again by yet another Howard pass interference call.

Two plays later, Murray threw a prayer into double coverage, with TE Darrell Daniels (1 rec, 21 yards, TD) wrestling the ball from the grasp of CB Byron Jones to tie the score at 24-24. It was the second touchdown conceded by Jones, who had already been beaten by Kirk on the aforementioned deep ball in the first half.

Things were looking bleak for the Fins following a frustrating drive, ending in a 11-yard sack for a loss that forced Miami to punt, and gave the ball back to Murray with all the momentum.

Miami simply had no answer for Murray on Arizona’s next possession, giving up a frustrating 28-yard gain on a 4th-and-1 near midfield. The zebras aided Arizona with Howard’s third pass interference covering Hopkins, which gave the Cards a first down instead of what would have been a 3rd-and-13 attempt. Murray would make Miami pay, finding the end zone on a 12-yard run to give Arizona their first lead of the game.

The Fins would start their next drive deep in their own territory at the 7-yard line following an illegal block on the ensuing kickoff. After back-to-back plays with no help from the run game, the Fins were faced with a daunting 3rd-and-9 attempt.

To this point, Miami had struggled on third down converting just 1-of-4 attempts, but Tua evaded immense pressure in the pocket and found WR Devante Parker (6 rec, 64 yards) for a 14-yard gain to move the chains.

The Fins finally were given a gift from the referees a few plays later, as S Buddha Baker was flagged for pass interference covering TE Mike Gesicki. Tua then found Parker again, this time for 17-yards. Two plays later, Tua would evade a myriad of Cardinals defenders en route to a 17-yard scamper to put the team in scoring position.

On the following play, Miami got scoring production from an unlikely source in WR Mack Hollins (1 rec, 11 yards, TD) on an 11-yard reception to tie the game again at 31-31. This speaks volumes to the team’s receiver depth following the exit of Williams earlier in the contest.

On the next offensive series, the Fins were once again faced with another 4th-and-1 attempt. Despite being dragged up and down the field for the majority of the affair, the Dolphins defense tightened up when it mattered, stuffing Edmonds at the line and forcing a turnover on downs.

With great field position at the 40-yard line, Tua found Gesicki for a 19-yard gain on the first play of the series. Tua would toss back-to-back incompletions before finding WR/KR Jakeem Grant for 9 yards, bringing up a 4th-and-1 decision of their own.

The Fins opted for yet another Jason Sanders field goal attempt, this time from 50 yards out. Sanders knocked it right down the middle to give Miami the 34-31 edge with just under four minutes left in the contest.

Miami’s struggles defending the deep ball reared its ugly head again on the first play of Arizona’s next drive, as Murray once again found WR Christian Kirk, this time for 35 yards. Now at the 40-yard line, it was up to the Fins defense to gut this one out.

The Fins held Edmonds to 9 yards over his next two carries, before Murray failed to connect with Kirk on 3rd-and-1 setting up a game-tying 49-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal attempt. Miami fans prayers around the nation were answered, as the kick was right down the middle but just barely reached splitting the uprights, handing the ball back to the Fins.

With 1:53 remaining in the game, the Fins pounded the clock with two Jordan Howard runs to bring up a 3rd-and-1 attempt. It was fitting that Tua would be the one to pick up the final first down on the following play to ice this game and preserve the Fins upset victory by a score of 34-31.


PM1_4435
Photo Credit: Miami Dolphins

What a day in Arizona for this young Dolphins team.

Miami has come along way since the beginning of the 2019 season, and this Field Yates tweet puts in perspective truly how far they have come, and what they have to look forward to in the future.

Tweet via @FieldYates Twitter Account

Miami now has won four games in a row, and is learning how to win close games. Being able to keep pace with the NFL’s No. 1 offense speaks volumes of the trajectory of this team moving forward.

The Dolphins are, by no means, a finished product. They struggle against dual threat QBs, and just can’t get the running game going consistently. On the flip side, their opportunistic defense, coupled with a developing Tua Tagovailoa, should be a scary sight to the rest of the AFC. You really can’t not be excited if you’re a Dolphins fan, and this is only just the beginning.

Up next for both teams, Miami will host the Los Angeles Chargers (2-6) as Tua will take on fellow top-10 rookie QB Justin Herbert. Arizona will stay at home, taking on the Buffalo Bills (7-2), fresh off their 44-34 win over the Seattle Seahawks (6-2).

(Featured Image Credit: Miami Dolphins)

Leave a Reply