By Abraham Gutierrez
With running back Jay Ajayi traded to Philly and quarterback Jay Cutler banged up, the Miami Dolphins still gave the Oakland Raiders all that they could handle. In the end, however, the Fins ended up on the losing end of a 27-24 decision against the Raiders Sunday night in front of a sold-out Hard Rock Stadium.
The loss drops Miami’s record to 4-4 on the season, which is good enough for third place in the AFC East behind the New England Patriots (6-2) and Buffalo Bills (5-3). Meanwhile, Oakland improves to 4-5 on the 2017 NFL campaign, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) atop the AFC West.
Even though the Dolphins lacked balance on offense, they still tallied more first downs and more (overall) yards than the Raiders. Officially, Miami registered 21 first downs to Oakland’s 19 and 395 yards of total offense compared to their counterpart’s 379 net yards.
Playing with multiple cracked ribs and no Jay Ajayi in the backfield to count on, quarterback Jay Cutler had a whale of a game. The former Vanderbilt standout turned the clock back, completing 34-of-42 pass attempts for 311 yards, 3 TDs and no INTs to earn an eye-popping quarterback rating of 121.3.
As a unit, Miami had 15 passes for first downs, 4 on the ground and another 4 thanks to Raiders penalties. The Fins also did a good job of moving the sticks when they needed it most, going 5-for-12 on third down situations.
“Whenever we weren’t going backwards with holding calls I thought we had really good rhythm,” Cutler said. “Guys were on the ball, I thought we mixed it up pretty well with out tempo. When I had the ball in my hand I got it to the guys that could make plays. …A lot of positives.”
Defensively, it was another solid effort for Miami’s resistance, but not merely enough. As stated above, the Fins defense allowed the Raiders to rack up 20 first downs, out of which, 14 came through the air, 4 on the ground and 2 via penalties.
This unit also surrendered 379 total yards (84 rushing and 294 passing) and let Oakland off the hook by letting the visitors go 8-for-15 on third downs. Quarterback Derek Carr did just enough to get his team over the hump, going 21-for-30 from the field for an even 300 passing yards, a touchdown and a pick to earn a quarterback rating of 99.3.
“They made a few more plays than we did when it came time to get off the field,” Cameron Wake said. “By the time we started clicking it seems like it was too little too late and that’s unfortunate.”
Much like it has been all year, Miami did a solid job against the rush, limiting running back Marshawn Lynch to 57 yards on 14 carries, DeAndre Washington to 16 yards on four rushes, and Jalen Richard to 14 yards on five rush attempts. Lynch was able to score two touchdowns, though.
Other Dolphins defensive standouts included safety Reshad Jones (9 tackles, INT, PD), defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh (1 tackle, 1.0 sacks) and Davon Godchaux (5 tackles, PD), and linebacker Kiko Alonso (5 tackles).
Special Teams: C+
Even though it wouldn’t play a determining factor in the game, missing extra-points is always something that drives coaches and fans crazy. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey finished the game with 4 points on 1-for-1 on field goals, but misfired on what could have been a key extra-point.
In a game where field-position was crucial, punter Matt Haack had another solid outing with 5 punts to his name for an average of 44.2 per boot, a pair of nicely-placed kicks inside the Raiders’ 20-yard line and a long of 54 yards.
Penalties were once again an issue, as the Dolphins seemed to shoot themselves in the foot one too many times. When it was all said and done, Miami was flagged a total of 11 times for a whopping 107 yards of negative offense.
Other than that, Gase and his staff did a pretty decent job of putting this team in a position to upset the visiting Raiders. However, it came down to a handful of plays, and unfortunately for the Fins, Oakland was able to capitalize and escape South Florida with a much-needed win.
Up Next: Dolphins pay Cam Newton and the felines a visit on Monday Night
After a heartbreaking loss to the Raiders, the Dolphins will once again play under the bright prime time lights. Next up for Miami is a clash with the Carolina Panthers (6-3) in Week 10. This interconference showdown is scheduled for Monday night (Nov. 13) at 8: 30 p.m. ET from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it will be broadcast live on ESPN.