The Miami Dolphins’ strong second half wasn’t enough as they fell to Tampa 30-20. Jay Cutler threw three interceptions in the first half and did not play in the second half due to concussion protocol. Matt Moore entered the game with a 13-point deficit and quickly made an impact, leading Miami to two field goals and a 61-yard pass to Kenny Stills. On his first drive, Miami had a touchdown rescinded due to a questionable offensive pass interference call on Julius Thomas.
Damien Williams finished with 78 yards, 69 of them coming on a run in the first quarter. Kenny Stills had a monster day with a career-high 180 receiving yards and a touchdown. Jarvis Landry posted 95 yards and recorded his fifth touchdown reception of the year. Despite losing, Miami posted a season-high, 448 yards of offense and had numerous red zone opportunities. But with five turnovers and 17 penalties, Miami is lucky they were even in a winning position.
The Dolphins had to make a last-minute switch on defense following the waiving of starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. The team cut Maualuga after he was arrested late Friday night and inserted backup Chase Allen into the starting lineup. Allen, who also started earlier this season in place of Lawrence Timmons, didn’t record a tackle and exited in the second half to be evaluated for a concussion. Stephone Anthony played his first game in a Dolphin uniform but left the game with a knee injury. Anthony’s injury leaves just three healthy Dolphins’ linebackers: Kiko Alonso, Mike Hull and Lawrence Timmons.
With the loss, Miami (4-6) currently stands as the eight seed in the AFC and one game behind the sixth seed Baltimore Ravens. A lot of people may have eliminated the Dolphins after this game but the way the AFC is going, the last wild card team may finish with a 8-8 record. Playing in January would require Miami to win out or at least go 4-2 down the stretch that includes two games against the Patriots and a game in Kansas City. Although the playoffs are not likely, don’t eliminate Miami just yet.
Moving forward, Gase will once again have to choose between Cutler or Matt Moore. The team responds positively when Moore comes off the bench as he has led two second half comebacks this season. Yes, Moore struggled with his only start of the season but in his defense, the whole team didn’t show up against Baltimore. Moore threw for 282 yards in the second half. That’s more than Cutler threw in all but one game this year. If Miami has any chance to make a playoff run, it’s with Moore at center.
Up next for Miami is a trip to Foxborough to take on the Patriots.
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