Miami lost a heart breaker in Tampa Bay that featured a Dolphins comeback that fell short last Monday Night. The Dolphins are 4-5, and still in position to fight for the final wild card spot. Unfortunately for Miami, all five of their losses have come in the last six games, including a four game losing streak. A win this week would be enormous for this club.
First Quarter: Miami took the opening drive right down the field, but the Chargers held them to a field goal in the red zone. Ryan Tannehill was 6/8 on the drive for 74 yards. The Dolphins’ running game struggled in the opening series, gaining only two yards.
The Miami defense kept the momentum and forced a turnover on a Phillip Rivers interception. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Tannehill handed the ball right back to San Diego with an INT of his own. The turnovers are becoming a real problem for the second year QB. The Chargers capitalized on the opportunity as Rivers found Gates in the endzone for the lead.
Score after one: Miami Dolphins 3 – San Diego Chargers 7
Second Quarter: The Dolphins opened the second quarter with a strong response to the Chargers TD. Miami marched 80 yards down the field and scored a rushing touchdown with Daniel Thomas. Brian Hartline actually fumbled the football two plays before, recovered by San Diego, but a roughing the passer penalty extended the drive for the Dolphins.
The Chargers added the final points of the first half, tying the game on a 27 yard field goal on a drive that could have easily been a touchdown for the Bolts. The Dolphins offense didn’t feature much rushing in the first half, and Tannehill was under pressure often.
Third Quarter: Miami held the Chargers on an opening drive to force a punt. The Dolphins turned around and scored a quick touchdown thanks to the short passes that turned to big gains. Charles Clay took a four yard pass for 39 yards and a score, breaking a couple tackles in the process.
After the ensuing kickoff, San Diego brought the ball into Dolphins territory. The drive ended with another Nick Novak field goal, this one from 50 yards out. The Chargers were threatening to score again going into the fourth quarter.
Score after three: Miami Dolphins 17 – San Diego Chargers 13
Fourth Quarter: The previously mentioned drive resulted in yet another Novak field goal. Twice now the Chargers have had drives go into the red zone and end in three points. Ryan Mathews passed 100 yards on the day with that drive.
After the teams traded punts, Miami took eight plays to add another three points to their slim lead. The Chargers responded and drove down into field goal range, until Olivier Vernon sacked Rivers and forced a punt. Huge play for the Miami defense.
The Dolphins tried to burn time off the clock following the punt. The Chargers used two timeouts and got the ball back, however it was not the best field position. Brandon Fields sent the punt 60 yards and put the Chargers on their own 17 yard line. The Bolts were able to drive down to the Dolphins’ 25 yard line, but fell short on their last shot to win.
Final score: Miami Dolphins 20 – San Diego Chargers 16
Charles Clay had six receptions for 90 yards and a score. His touchdown was the game winning score for the Dolphins, putting them ahead 17-16.
Ryan Mathews had 127 rushing yards on 19 carries. He was constantly moving the chains, and he kept the game close for all 60 minutes.
The Miami Dolphins defensive line had a slow start in this game, but they bounced back when it mattered most. Two of their three sacks came in huge situations in the fourth quarter: they kept the Chargers out of field goal range and forced them to use their last timeout.