Things we learned in Miami Dolphins’ 20-13 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders

MIAMI GARDENS — Perfect. That’s what the Miami Dolphins were at Hard Rock Stadium this season entering Sunday’s 20-13 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, and that’s what they remain.

The Dolphins (7-3) improved to 5-0 at home and won their 17th home game among their past 19 at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami also got off to its second consecutive 7-3 start.

But there were some anxious moments, including possibly another knee injury to rookie running back De’Von Achane.

Here are some more takeaways from Sunday’s game:

De’Von Achane is back … and then gone

Rookie running back De’Von Achane got the first carry of the game, then had a reception, then disappeared with a knee injury later in the first quarter. He went to the blue injury tent, then the locker room and returned to the sidelined with but without his helmet. That was it for the dynamic playmaker in the first half. Two touches, five yards. Or more accurately, one carry for one yard, and one reception for four yards.

Achane returned to the sideline with his helmet early in the third quarter.

Achane, the third-round pick from Texas A&M, entered the game averaging 12.1 yards per carry. He’s now dipped to just 11.8 yards per carry.

There’s been a concern about Achane’s durability from the start. He got slammed to the turf twice in a preseason game against Houston, then was out four games after suffering an injury vs. the New York Giants when it appeared he had his leg was fallen on by defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Achane seems to be developing into a complete back but we haven’t had an extended look at him. At one point you had to wonder whether Miami should re-think the way it uses Achane.

But now you just have to hope Achane can stay healthy. — Chris Perkins

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Welcome back, guys

Achane, and wide receivers River Cracraft and Robbie Chosen made long-awaited returns to the field Sunday. We’ve discussed Achane being on injured reserve. Cracraft (shoulder) was also on injured reserve, and Chosen, who was playing his fifth game of the season, was inactive for the previous four games.

Chosen had a 30-yard reception on the final play of the first half.

Jason Sanders missed from 50 … and then hit from 51

Kicker Jason Sanders missed a 50-yard field goal attempt early in the third quarter and fell to 4-of-14 in the past three-plus seasons on attempts of 50 or more yards.

Sanders entered the game as the most accurate kicker in franchise history at 82.6% (133 of 161).

Sanders quickly followed that miss with a 41-yard field goal.

And he followed that with a 51-yard field goal late in the third quarter for a 20-13 lead.

Jalen Ramsey now has team INT lead

All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey had a diving interception in the third quarter that served as a reminder of why he was such a great acquisition, and another on the Raiders’ final offensive play that reinforced the same notion.

Ramsey, playing in his third game since sustaining a knee injury on the second day of training camp, dove in front of wide receiver Tre Tucker to make the grab.

Ramsey now has the team lead in interceptions (three), breaking a tie with cornerback Xavien Howard and linebackers Jerome Baker and Emmanuel Ogbah. Edge rusher Jaelan Philips also had an interception Sunday, the first of his career.

Secondary at full speed for second game

Miami’s secondary of Ramsey and Howard at cornerbacks, safeties DeShon Elliott and Jevon Holland, Kader Kohou at nickel/slot and Nik Needham in the dime package and was at full strength for its second game.

Ramsey had the interceptions, and overall the Dolphins kept Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams (five receptions, 56 yards, one touchdown) under control.

Ramsey expertly defended wide receiver Jakobi Meyers on fourth-and-3 in the fourth quarter on a deep pass near the end zone when the Raiders trailed, 20-13.

Adams had a 46-yard touchdown reception late in the first quarter when he split coverage by Elliott and Holland for the reception.

But all things considered it was a promising showing for a secondary that could develop into one of the NFL’s best when at full strength.

Miami never played in the dime package Sunday.

Maxx Crosby has good day, but not good enough

As crazy as it sounds, Las Vegas defensive end Maxx Crosby, who entered the game with 9.5 sacks, tied for fourth in the NFL, was kept under control, relatively speaking, despite ending with six tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits and one pass defended.

Crosby, who switches sides, didn’t wreck Miami’s offensive game plan.

Credit left tackle Terron Armstead and right tackle Austin Jackson as well as the entire pass protection package.

McDaniel now 2 of 9 on challenges

Coach Mike McDaniel won a fourth-quarter challenge on a sideline completion to Tucker. McDaniel threw the red challenge flag on the 23-yard completion that came on second-and-17.

McDaniel won the challenge and is now 2 of 9 on challenges in his one-plus seasons as head coach.

Dolphins run game does enough to win

The Dolphins run game, which entered the game tied for second in the league at 147.9 yards per game, managed 99 yards on 28 carries, far below its average but good enough to grind out a win.

After Achane (one carry, 1 yard) went down, and then running back Salvon Ahmed (three carries, 6 yards) sustained an undisclosed injury early in the fourth quarter meaning the Dolphins only had Raheem Mostert (22 carries, 86 yards) as a healthy running back along with fullback Alec Ingold.

Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. was a healthy scratch. Ahmed was active over Wilson because Ahmed is a core special teams player.

At one point in the fourth quarter Ahmed went into the blue injury tent. He didn’t return to the game and play from scrimmage.

Tua’s turnovers adding up

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa lost a fumble, his third of the season, in the first quarter that Las Vegas turned into a 3-0 lead. Tagovailoa also threw an interception.

Tagovailoa now has 11 turnovers among his three lost fumbles and eight interceptions.

The eight interceptions through 10 games match his full-season total from last season, which was done in 13 games.

Home-field weather advantage gone for another year

Miami’s home-field weather advantage is gone, as evidenced by Sunday’s relatively cool temperature of 80 degrees and partly sunny skies.

The Dolphins, who are 5-0 at home, have home games remaining against Tennessee, the New York Jets, Dallas and Buffalo.

Dolphins’ (and officials’) reaction to the clear Aidan O’Connell lateral was disturbing

The Raiders quarterback Aidan O’Connell, with 6:21 left in the game, dropped back to pass and at the Raiders’ 7, threw the ball. The ball landed at the 6. Everyone stood around as the obvious lateral sat there. Apparently thinking that enough time had elapsed the just-as-clueless officials blew a whistle just before Las Vegas’ Jakobi Meyers had picked up the ball and was running free down the right sideline. The incompetent zebras ruled it an incomplete pass. And, the Dolphins and 10 of the Raiders looked like they had never been coached about the significance of a live ball on the ground. If the Dolphins picked up the ball, they would have walked in for a clinching score. Awful all around. — Steve Svekis

Criticism of McDaniel taking a shot with 5 seconds left in the first half may be a shade hypocritical

When Tua Tagovailoa got rocked as he threw to Robbie Chosen to end the first half and the Dolphins ahead 14-13, suddenly, X was atwitter with criticisms of the risk-reward seeming imbalance. It is worth noting that, with 2 seconds left in the first half of the season opener, Tagovailoa took a snap from the Miami 47 and threw a looping pass toward Erik Ezukanma. Incredibly, the Chargers committed pass interference at the LA 23, and Jason Sanders made the ensuing 41-yard field goal attempt. The Dolphins won the game 36-34. Against the Raiders, the snap was taken from the Miami 25. We have seen Tagovailoa air out high-altitude passes of 55 yards. That distance would have the landing spot (assuming a release point from 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage) of the Raiders 26. So, basically, the same logic from Mike McDaniel’s perspective is applicable. Now … why the ball was thrown only 30 yards may be a different matter.

Tagovailoa set to tie a career best against the Jets

On Sunday, Tagovailoa made his 10th consecutive start. His personal best is 11 in a row, from Nov. 21, 2021 through Sept. 29 last year.

What have the Dolphins not done in the past five games?

Despite the dominant offense, the Dolphins have not led at the end of the first quarter any of their past five games. They trailed the Raiders 10-7 after the first 15 minutes on Sunday, were behind 7-0 to the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany two weeks ago, they were deadlocked against the Patriots and Eagles the two games before that and were 14 down to the Carolina Panthers entering the second quarter on Oct. 15.

Mostert update

With his 23 touches against the Raiders, Raheem Mostert is at 151 for the season and remains on pace to smash his personal high in touches for a season. He is on a pace for 256 after having established his high-water mark of 212 in 2022. Mostert is also in line for 1,443 total yards, with his previous best his 1,093 of 2022. And despite not cracking the plane of the end zone vs. the Raiders, he also is still on pace to break Mark Clayton’s club mark for touchdowns in a season, his 13 on a pace to hit 22, well ahead of Clayton’s 18 in 1984.

Dolphins’ offense is happy to have Hard Rock Stadium to itself now

The Dolphins, in games this season where they have played at Hard Rock Stadium a day after the Miami Hurricanes have also played, saw their average points scored decrease to 27.3 per game. In their games this season where UM hasn’t played the day before, the Dolphins offense has roasted the competition with 56 points per game on average. Luckily, there are no more Dolphins contests being played the day after the Hurricanes play on the surface.

Dolphins will look for better Tagovailoa performance on the Black Friday game at the Jets

In the 12 games Tagovailoa has played in when the Dolphins have been in the NFL’s only game being played at the time, his passer rating has been a milquetoast 88.1.

Tagovailoa’s national games, in order of passer rating, from best to worst: 104.0, At Bills, 2022, 32-29 loss; 104.0, Ravens, 2021, 22-10 win; 99.4, At Raiders, 2020, 26-25 win; 95.1, Jaguars (London), 2021, 23-20 loss; 92.7, Steelers, 2022, 16-10 win; 92.2, At Patriots, 24-17 win; 91.5, At Saints, 20-3 win; 87.5, At Eagles, 2023, 31-17 loss; 87.0: Chiefs (Germany), 21-14 loss; 80.8, Packers, 26-20 loss; 65.3, At Chargers, 2023, 23-17 loss; 52.7, at Bengals, 2022, 27-15 loss.

If it is before December, the Dolphins are winning coin tosses

This is getting beyond incredible. The McDaniel Dolphins have won 18 of 21 (85.7%) of their pregame coin tosses in games played before December. The only opponent win in those games have been the Steelers last year and the Chargers and Broncos this season. Last year after Nov. 30, Miami lost six of its seven tosses. Such suspense for Black Friday.

On deck: New York Jets, MetLife Stadium, Friday, 3 p.m.

This will be the fifth Friday game in the Dolphins’ history. Interestingly, the first two games in franchise history in 1966 were played on a Friday. Then, the next one was in 1983 and the fourth in 2005. Of the five games, three of them have been played against the Jets. … Tagovailoa has played only one game in New Jersey (2021), and it stands as one of his best road performances in his pre-McDaniel era, with a 108.7 passer rating in a 24-17 win.