Hyde10: Offense freezes, season fizzles, dumb plays contribute — 10 thoughts on Dolphins’ 26-7 playoff loss to Chiefs

The game kicked off in minus-4-degree weather.

It then got colder for the Miami Dolphins. They got dominated on both offense and defense in losing their wild-card playoff game to the Kansas City Chiefs, 26-7, to end their season.

Here are 10 thoughts on the game:

1. Stat of the Game: Seven points. Throw in the Dolphins offense’s six first downs into the fourth quarter as they fell behind 26-7 and you’re getting the picture of this offensive no-show. It didn’t help they were 1 of 9 on third- and fourth-down conversions to that point (and finished 2 of 13 for the game). Coach Mike McDaniel and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa couldn’t find an answer on a night where the full offensive output was one play: A 53-yard touchdown pass from to Tyreek Hill. Tagovailoa was not good enough, completing 20 of 39 passes for 139 yards, the touchdown and an interception.

2. Stat of the Season: 1-6. That’s the Dolphins record against teams with winning records this season. Even that doesn’t tell the full story as they’re a minus-110 point margin in those games. Simply put, they beat up on bad teams and couldn’t play with good teams. That was telling over the final three weeks as they lost the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage at Baltimore, lost the No. 2 seed and home-field advantage to Buffalo and got run out of the playoffs Saturday night in Kansas City.

3. In the post-game, Tagovailoa talked of “miscommunication” and plays getting in late (calling out McDaniel) and not having enough practice time with certain teammates. None of that helped, of course. But this was a game Tagovailoa had to put his fingerprints on this game and he really didn’t do much in it. Maybe the cold affected some early throws, but defenses also are on to this offense throwing wide-receiver screens and quick slants. Whether it’s McDaniel or Tagovailoa, finding answers against good defenses is priority No. 1 this offseason.

4. You can’t blame the defense. Twenty-six points? That’s not bad, given the situation. The Dolphins began the game with six injured starters missing from defense, and it became seven in the first quarter when cornerback Eli Apple went out (but later returned). In came undrafted rookie Ethan Bonner, who was elevated from the practice squad before the game and had only played 12 snaps this season. It’s telling that second-round pick Cam Smith was left inactive for this game to round out a rookie season where the Dolphins got nothing from him. It was also interesting defensive coordinator Vic Fangio put in edge rusher Malik Allen on the first drive. Allen was signed on Tuesday. And yet Fangio’s defense hung in there. The key for the defense was it held Kansas City to four field goals on five trips to the red zone. Fangio’s defenses are known for red-zone strength and that played out as they were undermanned the final two weeks against Buffalo and Kansas City. Twenty-six points considering their problems? You’d take that coming in and expect the offense to do more.

5. Yes, it was cold for this game. It was needlessly cold, too. You can’t blame the NFL for chasing money by putting a playoff game on streaming TV with Peacock. It was just insane to play in Houston’s dome in the afternoon and hold this at night in sub-zero weather. It’s not just the players’ health. It’s the fans attending the game. This was the fourth-coldest game in NFL history with a temperature of minus-4 at kickoff (the 1967 Ice Bowl between Dallas and Green Bay is the coldest at minus-16). It goes without saying it was the coldest Dolphins game of all-time. That means the franchise has The Longest Game in NFL history the 1971 playoffs at Kansas City and what we’ll call The Coldest Game in these playoffs. Let’s not overdo the weather for this game considering this is the situation the Dolphins put themselves in by losing the home-field advantage in the playoffs over the past month.

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6. How You Lose a Big Game I: First quarter. Third-and-inches at the Dolphins 44-yard line. De’Von Achane runs for 2 yards. But receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. didn’t line up properly (he covered the tight end, Durham Smyth) resulting in a 5-yard penalty. On third-and-six, Tagovailoa threw off his back foot and his pass floated over the middle for an interception. So, they went from gaining a first down, committing a training-camp penalty and then throwing an interception.

7. How You Lose A Big Game II: With the game in big trouble, the Dolphins forced Mahomes to throw incomplete on third-and-20 from the Dolphins 27-yard line early in the fourth quarter. But there was Christian Wilkins running a few steps into Mahomes after he threw the pass, then needlessly giving a hard shove. It wasn’t a penalty a decade ago. It is in today’s game. That gave Kansas City a first down that resulted in a touchdown and 26-7 lead. Ball game.

8. What was Mike Tirico talking about, “There’s a name for you to follow, Miami Dolphins fans,” as he singled out Ethan Bonner after a fumble recovery with a couple of minutes to go. Maybe Bonner develops into a contributing part of this franchise but that’s beside the point. The Dolphins were just finishing an awful close to this season and their 23rd year without a playoff win. And the silver lining is Ethan Bonner?

9. Quick Hits:

* Mahomes played like a champ: 23-41, 262 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Winning football given the conditions;

* Jaylen Waddle played but wasn’t a factor with two catches for 31 yards;

* Brandon Jones made a blatant hold in pass coverage in the second quarter and it wasn’t called;

* Add Houston and quarterback CJ Stroud to the list of tough AFC teams for the next few years.

* Peacock (NBC) cameras could’ve done with fewer shots of Andy Reid’s snot-covered moustache.

* Yes, Taylor Swift was at the game.

10. Next Game: The Dolphins are officially on the clock for the draft held April 25-27 in 2024. We’ll have to see how the wild-card round shakes out, but the Dolphins entered it drafting 24th. The top need? We’ll have months to debate this, but cornerback looks to be at the top of the list. Xavien Howard is 31 next year and an injury question. Can Cam Smith rebound from a disastrous rookie season? Depending on what they do in free agency, the Dolphins need help at cornerback.