Game Recap: Miami Dolphins @ Los Angeles Chargers

It was an entertaining and tough showing by the Dolphins in Los Angeles

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Sep 17, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo (9) reacts after missing a 44-yard field goal with nine seconds left aMiami Dolphins during a NFL football game at StubHub Center. The Dolphins defeated the Chargers 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo (9) reacts after missing a 44-yard field goal with nine seconds left aMiami Dolphins during a NFL football game at StubHub Center. The Dolphins defeated the Chargers 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After one entertaining game in Los Angeles, the Miami Dolphins are on top. They have earned their first win to begin the season. The Dolphins emerged victorious despite horrendous playcalling in the first half, bad pass defense, and settling for field goals often.

However, this Dolphins team is resilient. They came to play today and showed the grit that landed them in the playoffs last season. When thinking of a face for this win and for the team’s attitude, running back Jay Ajayi comes to mind. That’s because as the game goes on, Ajayi only grows stronger. The Dolphins rode Ajayi as the game went on and it paid dividends. Ajayi finished with 122 yards on 28 carries.

The other face for today’s win belongs to kicker Cody Parkey. Parkey came through big-time today as he nailed a 54-yard field goal with just over a minute left in the game. This tied for his career long and it shows that Miami’s front office made a great choice in picking him up.

Miami’s offense started off slowly, mostly due to poor playcalling. The entire first half had many questioning head coach Adam Gase’s judgement. However, the Dolphins got it together immediately in the second half as they marched down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive. Wide receiver Kenny Stills made a great adjustment to the ball as quarterback Jay Cutler scrambled around looking for an open man.

Cutler threw for 230 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The connection between him and DeVante Parker was astounding. Parker finished with four receptions for 85 yards, while Jarvis Landry finished with 13 receptions for 78 yards.

Miami’s offense was relatively balanced, and looked at it’s best once the run game was established, as expected. The offensive unit started off slow and ended hot. The defense would have a bit of an up and down day as well.

At a glance, the Dolphins did well on defense. Holding the Chargers to 17 points is no easy task with the wealth of talent that quarterback Philip Rivers has at his exposal. However, there were certainly areas that need improvement. Most notably, the pass defense. When Rivers wanted to, he carved up Miami’s secondary. They were often out of position, late to react, or just playing soft coverage.

As poor as the secondary was, Miami made up for it in other ways. One of which was its rushing defense—a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. The Dolphins held running back Melvin Gordon to 13 yards on the ground and one touchdown. The touchdown is forgivable, as the Chargers had three chances on the one-yard line.

This is certainly encouraging going forward, as Miami faces a tough slate of running backs this year. This was especially impressive considering the fact that outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was a non-participant today.

Overall, Miami did show up a bit rusty as expected to begin the game. It was their Week 1 and the Chargers’ Week 2. However, the Dolphins were able to put together a tough, gritty game in order to grind out a win. This is huge for morale and momentum for the team. To begin the season with a win on the road after facing a hurricane, many season-ending injuries, and knowing that they’ll be playing 16 games in a row is certainly a good feeling.

Look for the Dolphins to make it two in a row as they face the New York Jets away from home next week.

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  • Bad Wolf

    The grittiness to be playing their hearts out in fourth quarter and win in the last minutes of the game was something we also saw last year but that we had not been seeing with any frequency for the 20 years preceding last year. I think this is a great quality, a quality I associate with winning teams.

    The move to get Parkey is looking like a great move. Look forward to seeing more of the Cutler-Parker big play big yard connections – very exciting. But gotta love Landry for just making catches and really gotta love Ajayi for in many respects carrying the team.

    What is up with Timmons? Sounds as though he was upset about something and then pulled himself out or was pulled out because of his reaction. What is this with a pro player seeming to act like a teenage girl? Unprofessional. Hopeful he grows up and focuses moving forward the way the Ajayi really raised his game when benched for a game.

    We got lucky with Parkey’s great final field goal followed by LAC kicker missing an easy field goal. Whew! Cannot count on that happening routinely (hopefully can count on Parkey making great kicks but we got lucky with LAC kicker fouling up).

    Defense is not playing together coherently. It allowed Chargers QB to slice them up. While the offense seems to know the plays and know what to do, for the defense it seems like they are still in preseason “learning the defense” mode. Hopefully the Coaches get them more focus and get Timmons head in the game (or if they cannot cut him and use the money to get another LB).

    • Cover32 Dolphins

      I absolutely agree with everything you said. Great insight. I think it’s quite the awkward situation with Timmons, as defenders are usually less prone to being primadonnas. An offensive player can make his way back into it. Whereas it’ll be awkward for a vet like Timmons to earn respect back from his teammates. However, it’s a position of dire need. Just an awkward situation all around. Let’s see how it plays out.

      As for the winning teams observation on grittiness, I agree 100%. You have to find ways to win. The Dolphins can do better than they did today. They didn’t put themselves in a position to win. They got lucky.