The AFC East-leading Dolphins still haven't proved themselves against tough competition

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — After Buffalo beat Miami nearly a month ago, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said it was a valuable learning experience that his young team could use against tough competition later in the season.

McDaniel repeated those words after Sunday's road loss to the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

“I kind of knew that going into the game that it was going to be that type of atmosphere," McDaniel said, "and I think that’s very important for our team, being on the younger side, to experience. Those are critical. You have to feel what it’s like to play such a good team on the road.”

Miami will need to find a way to win such games at some point this season if it wants to be a title contender.

The AFC East-leading Dolphins have played two teams with winning records this season — the Eagles and the Bills — and have lost both games by double digits.

They scored 20 and 17 points against Buffalo and Philadelphia, respectively, which is well below their average of 34.3 points per game. On Sunday, Miami recorded a season-low 244 total yards after entering the game averaging nearly 500.

Penalties negated first-down conversions. Tyreek Hill also had a pair of uncharacteristic drops, one of which could have been a touchdown if he'd held on.

“It’s tough when you come on the road against a really good team and you’re not able to execute the way you expected to execute,” quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said. “But you have to give props to those guys and their coaching staff. They did a real good job in preparing for us. Some things went well for us, some things we’re just trying to figure out there. But overall we just have to get better.”

Tagovailoa was 23 of 32 for 216 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted by Eagles cornerback Darius Slay on an underthrown pass to Raheem Mostert in the end zone.

McDaniel said it was the type of loss that should hurt.

“The collection of coaches and players in the locker room right now are hurting because they feel like they left some plays on the field for sure,” he said. "You know, losses, if approached the right way, if you’re not pointing fingers and you’re looking internally, can be a good thing too. So that’s what we’ll be determined to make this moving forward, starting with tomorrow.”

WHAT'S WORKING

Hill's ability to get open downfield remains Miami's most potent offensive threat. Hill sprinted through a double team for a 27-yard touchdown catch before halftime that cut the deficit to seven points.

Hill caught 11 passes for 88 yards — a quiet day by his standards. He still led Miami's receivers Sunday and leads the NFL in receiving yards (902), touchdown catches (seven) and catches of 40-plus yards (six).

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Penalties and miscommunication have stalled momentum too often, especially in both of Miami's road games. Tagovailoa said there were communication issues Sunday — something he also mentioned after the loss to Buffalo.

“I have to communicate to the line," Tagovailoa said. “The cadence in a loud environment, you know, all of those things play a role in us going out there executing, especially with a loud environment.”

STOCK UP

The Linebackers. Jerome Baker returned an interception for a score and led the Dolphins with 11 tackles. David Long Jr. was having his best game of the season with four tackles before he left to be evaluated for a concussion. Jaelan Phillips recorded a sack and two quarterback hits. Bradley Chubb forced a fumble and had two sacks.

STOCK DOWN

The offensive line. Yes, there were injuries, but the Dolphins struggled in the trenches against Philadelphia's defensive front, much like they did against Buffalo's. Miami rushed for a season-low 45 yards, and Tagovailoa was sacked three times.

INJURIES

LT Terron Armstead (knee) remains on injured reserve, C Connor Williams (groin) missed his third game, and LG Isaiah Wynn injured his quad in the first quarter Sunday. ... CB Xavien Howard (groin) was inactive. ... WR Jaylen Waddle played just 45% of snaps because of a back injury.

S Jevon Holland and Long collided helmets chasing Jalen Hurts in the third quarter. Both players remained on the ground after the play but walked off under their own power to be evaluated for concussions. Holland was cleared to re-enter to the game a few plays later. Long did not return but was cleared after the game. Holland was placed in the concussion protocol Monday after reporting symptoms in his follow-up exam.

KEY NUMBER

10 — The number of times Miami was penalized. Philadelphia had no accepted penalties.

NEXT STEPS

The Dolphins host division rival New England in Week 8 before traveling to Frankfurt, Germany, to face Super Bowl champion Kansas City.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL