MIAMI GARDENS – The Miami Dolphins fell to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night 27-24, but the offense had some semblance of continuity for the first time many weeks.
Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler came into tonight’s contest versus the Oakland Raiders nursing sore ribs stemming from the injury he suffered against the New York Jets in Week 7 of the NFL season. Cutler missed last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, with broken ribs but he seemingly felt no ill effects in his first game back from injury.
Cutler finished the first half a very efficient 16 of 17 for 141 yards and one touchdown as the Dolphins went into halftime trailing 13-9. Dolphins scored on their second possession of the second half following Kenyan Drake’s 42-yard scamper down the sideline. Four plays later, Cutler found Jarvis Landry for a six-yard touchdown.
Drake led the Dolphins in yards on the ground with nine carries for 69 yards. While he was very productive, he also fumbled while the Dolphins were in scoring range. The Raiders would reach the end zone on their subsequent possession.
Running back Damien Williams added 47 yards and one touchdown receiving. Drake, who also has soft hands out of the backfield, picked up 35 yards on four receptions. The Dolphins desperately needed to keep Cutler clean in the pocket on passing downs, and his running backs’ ability to consistently haul in passes out of the backfield allowed Cutler to quickly dump the ball off to them.
Cutler finished the game with 311 yards and three touchdowns. Despite encouraging performances from Cutler and the Dolphins’ running backs, they were unable to take the lead from the Raiders who went on a six play 87-yard touchdown drive, that culminated in a three-yard touchdown by Marshawn Lynch, giving the Raiders a 27-16 lead they would not relinquish.
The Dolphins’ defense was unable to hold up on third downs as Kiko Alonso had difficulty matching up with speedy tight end Jared Cook. With the struggles in coverage in mind, the Dolphins’ defense went to nickel personnel and as a result they were gashed on the ground as the game waned.
While Marshawn Lynch had just 57 yards on 14 carries, he picked up yardage in critical moment when the Dolphins were no longer in their base personnel, which definitely hurt the Dolphins chances of getting the Raiders’ off of the field.
The Raiders converted 20 first downs and were 8 of 15 on third downs on the night.
While the Dolphins (4-4) walk away losers on Sunday night, they should not hang their heads. The offense took a big step forward and could certainly build on tonight’s performance as they gear up for next week’s contest against the Carolina Panthers.