Dolphins’ late push is too little, too late in 31-28 loss to Raiders

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Just about everything has been hard to come by thus far in the 2021 regular season on offense for the Miami Dolphins. And that trend, unfortunately, continued in Week 3 of the 2021 regular season against the Las Vegas Raiders. Miami could muster hardly so much as a spark offensively during their 31-28 overtime loss at the hands of the Raiders; seeing a 14-0 early lead dissolve as the Raiders settled into the flow of the game.

By the end of the third quarter, Miami had conceded the lead and trailed 19-14 as the Raiders continued to squeeze a “bend but don’t break” defense from Miami that eventually fatigued and caved in the red zone to the Raiders. But for as bleak as things looked in the 4th quarter, Miami did mount a late push and found themselves in overtime against the Raiders thanks to a 4th and goal run from QB Jacoby Brissett with seconds left and a subsequent 2-point conversion from WR Will Fuller to even the score at 25.

Miami would go on to concede a field goal to open overtime before matching with a 50-yard Jason Sanders field goal of their own to even the score at 28. But Miami’s defense, which spent far too much time on the field on this day, was gassed and saw two big plays serve as the preview for the game-winning field goal with no time left in overtime. The first came with a deep reception from Raiders WR Bryan Edwards over the shoulder with SAF Brandon Jones and LB Sam Eguavoen in coverage. The second came off the left side of Miami’s defense as RB Peyton Barber ripped off a long gain to put the Raiders in the red zone to set up the kick.

This loss serves as a cold, hard dose of reality for a Miami Dolphins team that entered into the year with postseason aspirations. The team’s chemistry experiment with the co-offensive coordinators of 2021 seems to have blown up in their face. The Dolphins offense, through three games, has shown few signs of game flow or rhythm; offensive yards have been hard to come by no matter who is manning what spots on the offensive line or who is behind center.

The play calling has been unimaginative and, at times, stunningly conservative, such as a quick throw to Jaylen Waddle with the Dolphins at their own 1-yard line and up 14-0 in the first half. That throw was high and, after it has hauled in by Waddle, resulted in a safety.

Something has to break for the Dolphins.

They won’t have their starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for another two weeks and are returning home for Week 4 of the season for a showdown against the 0-3 Indianapolis Colts. Miami will most certainly need a win in Week 4 or else risking their season spiral out of control. And, with the offense playing as poorly as they are, there’s little reason to think that even a win over the Colts next week would do anything other than delay the inevitable.

With no punch offensively, Brian Flores’ defensive unit has crumbled late in each of their last two games, pushing Miami to the brink and leaving what was a season filled with aspirations instead on the cusp of leaving a three-year rebuild on the cusp of needing dramatic changes. And that wasn’t what was sold to the Dolphins’ fanbase and ownership by the regime in charge — which leaves the Dolphins in a pretty difficult place after just three underwhelming weeks this season.