By Abraham Gutierrez
Following a 29-13 defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon, the Miami Dolphins are officially eliminated from the postseason. The loss drops Miami’s record to 6-9 with one week remaining on the regular season, as the Fins have lost two straight contests and seven of their last nine games.
“That’s what you play for,” said Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said when asked about being eliminated from playoff contention. “We’ve had a couple of weeks here in a row where we had good opportunities to kind of do something with the opportunity we had and instead we just came out and didn’t perform well and didn’t get it done.”
It was the tale of two halves for a Miami Dolphins offensive unit that played relatively well, all things considered. They scored a field goal in the first quarter and 10 points in the second stanza, but unfortunately, were kept off the scoreboard after the break.
In the end, they did not play well enough to overcome the same mistakes that have haunted them all year, thus, leading to yet another lopsided defeat. Turnovers have been a huge problem all season. On Sunday, they turned the ball key in situations, which killed drives, fumbling the rock three times, leading to a pair of Kansas City recoveries.
As a unit, Miami’s offense tallied only 15 first downs, out of which, 11 came through the air and four on the ground. One of the Fins’ biggest problem areas has been converting on third down situations. On Sunday, Miami laid a goose egg in that department, going 0-for-7 and 0-for-2 on fourth down attempts. That simply is not good enough to get the job done in the National Football League, particularly going up against a playoff team like the Chiefs.
Quarterback Jay Cutler actually had a decent performance in what could be the penultimate game of his career, converting on 19-of-38 pass attempts for 286 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions to earn a passer rating of 83.9.
Running back Kenyan Drake was Miami’s leading rusher with 57 yards on 13 carries, while Jakeem Grant (4 receptions, 107 yards, TD), DeVante Parker (5 receptions, 63 yards) and Kenny Stills (4 receptions, 54 yards and a lost fumble) led the way on the receiving end.
It was also the tale of two halves for the Miami Dolphins defense Sunday Arrowhead Stadium. They limited the Chiefs to field goals in the first quarter (3 points), third (3 points) and fourth quarters (6 points), but a shake second stanza (17 points) was simply too much to overcome.
Ultimately, the F-letter grade is due to the fact that they simply could not tackle anyone, often leading to huge for the Chiefs offense.
As a unit, the Fins defense surrendered a whopping 22 first downs (12 passing, 6 rushing, 6 penalties) and 404 yards of total offense (301 passing yards, 103 rushing yards). They also allowed the Chiefs to move the sticks with ease, giving up 7 first downs on 15 attempts.
The time of possession battle was also a huge problem on Sunday. Miami held on to the ball just 22 minutes and seven seconds, compared to Kansas City’s 37 minutes and 32 seconds of time of possession.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith completed 25-of-39 passes for 304 yards, a touchdown and no picks for a 96.5 QBR, and also rushed for 13 yards on four carries. Pro Bowl running back Kareem Hunt (29 rushes, 91 yards, TD) took care of the rest when it comes to the ground attack, while Tyreek Hill (6 catches, 109 yards) Travis Kelce (4 catches, 47 yards, TD) and Albert Wilson (3 catches, 36 yards) led the way in receptions.
Special Teams: F
It was an uncharacteristic showing for Miami’s special teams unit, as they failed to take care of the little things. Kicker Cody Parkey, who has been almost automatic all year, went 2-for-3 on field goal attempts. Punter Matt Haack also had a rough day at the office with 2 punts for an average of 29.5 yards, none inside the Chiefs’ 20-yard line and a long 34 yards.
The biggest story of this game is how Miami continues to shoot itself in the foot. Any time they were able to get something going, penalties either set them back, and/or completely killed the momentum of their drives.
When it was all said and done, the Dolphins finished the day with 11 penalties for 75-negative yards, and the worst part of most of those was the timing. Those mishaps, along with the ongoing turnovers issues, unfortunately, fall squarely on the shoulders of the head coach.
“We had a really bad streak there going in the first eight games and then it looked like we were going to clean it up there for a while,” Gase said regarding this team being ranked 30th in the league in penalties. “We kind of eliminated the pre-snap penalties for a few weeks and then we get called for holding at throwing times and we get some defensive holdings. We’ve just got to play clean.”
Up Next: Miami Returns Home To Host Bills In Season Finale
A lackluster season comes to a close on the last day of the year with a home game against an AFC East rival. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida will be the site for the season finale between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills on New Years Eve. Opening kickoff is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.