Dolphins’ Offense Shows Signs Of Life, Defense Struggles In Loss To Raiders

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.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler (6) looks to pass the ball, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Photo: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee.

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.

 

Brandon Howard joined the Sports Talk Florida team to cover the Miami Dolphins in April 2017 and will work diligently to provide daily Dolphins content and give accurate analysis of the roster, coaching and front office. Last season, Howard was the curator of content for Miami Dolphins Wire/ USA Today while aggregating high school sports results in Broward and Palm Beach counties for the Sun Sentinel. Prior to moving to South Florida Howard developed NFL content for Pro Player Insiders while covering the Cleveland Browns from 2014-2015. Howard, a Columbus, Ohio native graduated from West Virginia in 2004 in Athletic Coaching and Education. He also was a scholarship track and field athlete and walk-on football player. Howard was the 2003 Big East Long and IC4A long jump Champion and was a provisional national qualifier in the event. He also maintained his status as a member of the Athletic Director Academic Honor Roll during his time as a Mountaineer.