Here are some of the top takeaways from the Miami Dolphins’ loss to the Green Bay Packers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday:
Tua late interceptions something you don’t see often
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who entered the game with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions, threw three fourth-quarter interceptions that were all pivotal and out of character from what we’ve seen so far this season. It also proved he’s not immune to late-game miscues, as it’d appeared this season. The first pass was intended for wide receiver Tyreek Hill but Tagovailoa overthrew him and Jaire Alexander picked off the pass, which eventually led to the Packers go-ahead field goal for a 23-20 score. The second interception came when Tagovailoa was going for running back Raheem Mostert but it appeared Mostert was running a “go” or deep route toward the end zone and Tagovailoa was throwing perhaps a hook pattern or something that required Mostert to stop. The last interception was intended for Hill (although tight end Mike Gesicki was also in the neighborhood) and appeared to be an overthrow. — Chris Perkins
Cold weather Dolphins
Temperature at kickoff was 46 degrees (with a feels like temperature of 40 degrees) making it the second-coldest home game in franchise history behind the Christmas Eve 1989 game against Kansas City when it was 40 degrees at kickoff.
Here are the five coldest home kickoffs in franchise history:
(Temperature; Date; Opponent; Result)
40; 12-24-89; Kansas City; L, 27-24
46; 12-25-22; Green Bay; L, 26-20
51; 12-31-83*; Seattle; L, 27-20
52; 12-20-04; New England; W, 29-28
53; 12-19-81; Buffalo; W, 16-6
* Playoff game
Hill still establishing records
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill established his career-best single-season receptions mark with four catches to reach 113 for the season, eclipsing his previous best of 111 in 2021. The Dolphins franchise record was previously 112, which was established by Jarvis Landry in 2017. Hill also established the NFL record for most receiving yards in a first season with a team with 1,632. The previous mark was 1,535 by Stefon Diggs in 2020, his first year with Buffalo.
Bad second-half possessions by offense
The Dolphins’ second-half possessions were interception-interception-missed field goal-interception. That’s something we hadn’t seen all season.
The offense ran out of gas in the second half after scoring 20 points in the first half. The Dolphins, by the way, are now upside down in point differential at minus-5.
There were no worries about Sanders, and then …
Kicker Jason Sanders had a streak of 12 consecutive field goals end in the third quarter when he was wide right on a 48-yard field goal attempt. Sanders hit a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter to extend his streak to 11 consecutive made field goals, including a career-best 55-yarder against the Los Angeles Chargers. He then extended that to 12 consecutive with a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter. On the positive side, Sanders is now fourth in franchise history with (547) points. He surpassed kicker Uwe von Schamann (540) on Sunday.
A Gesicki sighting
Tight end Mike Gesicki had a 24-yard reception in the second quarter that led to a 52-yards catch by Tyreek Hill and then a 1-yard touchdown run by Jeff Wilson Jr. But the Gesicki reception marked his second catch in the past five games. Gesicki had one reception for 5 yards against Buffalo and had no receptions the previous three games with just four targets. Unfortunately, Gesicki ended the Packers game with that lone reception.
Chubb returns with right hand wrapped, but has low-key game
Edge rusher Bradley Chubb, who ended with one tackle, played from late in the second quarter with his right hand wrapped up as the result of a first quarter injury. The pass rush trio of Chubb and linebackers Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram ended with seven tackles and no sacks. Phillips had six tackles. The Dolphins ended the game with two sacks (one by safety Eric Rowe, the other by linebacker Elandon Roberts). Phillips, who has had a good season, got called for a questionable fourth-quarter roughing-the-passer penalty against Aaron Rodgers. Chubb narrowly missed a sack against Rodgers after that on third down. The play resulted in an incomplete pass but a 28-yard field goal that gave the Packers 23-20 lead. Phillips also had a questionable roughing-the-passer call against Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert three games ago.
Dolphins’ run game
The Dolphins had 82 rushing yards on 18 carries. They had 58 yards rushing on 10 carries at halftime. But they didn’t really need offensive balance early considering they had 24 plays in the first half, including an 84-yard touchdown pass and a 52-yard reception by Hill to the Green Bay 1-yard line. Miami ended up running just 45 plays thanks to three turnovers.
One area it seemed the Dolphins had an edge entering the game was running the ball. Green Bay was 29th in run defense at 148.9 yards allowed per game, and while the Dolphins were 27th in rushing offense at 96.9 yards per game they were coming off a 188-yard performance at Buffalo.
Raheem Mostert ended with 45 yards rushing on eight carries, while Jeff Wilson Jr. had 37 yards rushing om nine carries.
Green Bay goes for it on fourth downs
The Packers were 3 of 5 on fourth downs, including a touchdown, a fake punt, and an overthrow of an open receiver. The Packers’ most important fourth down of the game might have been the fourth-and-3 in the fourth quarter when they kicked a 26-yatrd field goal for a 26-20 lead. The Packers had the choice to go for it and try to score a touchdown to make it a two-score game but they widely elected to kick and force the Dolphins to score a touchdown on their final possession instead of a game-tying field goal.
Dolphins mental toughness takes a hit
The streaky Dolphins entered on a three-game losing streak and played a game that was set to test their mental toughness considering Green Bay was sub-.500. The Dolphins, who started the season 3-0, then lost three consecutive, then won five consecutive, then lost three consecutive. The Dolphins failed Sunday’s mental-toughness test. We’ll see how they respond in the final two regular-season games. It’s been an up and down year, but the Dolphins have answered the call before.
Tua threw his first home interception in more than a year, and then tossed two more
The Dolphins’ quarterback had gone 199 passes without an interception at Hard Rock Stadium since Dec. 19, 2021 against the New York Jets. Then he floated a ball short left toward Tyreek Hill, who was in the middle of a quartet of Packers defenders, and it was snagged by cornerback Jaire Alexander. Then, six tosses later, he threw a crucial pick when the Dolphins were in position to tie the game late. And, then, the unsightly finale. — Steve Svekis
Three more unsightly plays by special teams were costly
The Packers’ first kickoff return went for 93 yards to set up a field goal, and then an ugly-looking squib kick gave Green Bay a first down near midfield en route to a touchdown that made it 10-10. And, then, Jason Sanders’ troubles flared up again as he pushed a 48-yard field goal attempt to the right and left the score 20-20 late in the third quarter. Thirteen points to the Packers’ benefit potentially.
McDaniel mystifyingly didn’t challenge the Marcedes Lewis’ 31-yard reception to first-and-goal
As the tight end came to the ground with the beautifully thrown, arcing pass from Aaron Rodgers, the ball clearly rolled on the ground briefly. Fox analyst and former NFL head of officials Mike Pereira said the ball would have been ruled incomplete. What is coach Mike McDaniel’s review process and how did such a play slip through?
Wilkins by the numbers
The biggest Pro Bowl snub on the Dolphins was Christian Wilkins, who yet again was a terror against the Packers, with multiple batted passes among his impact plays. Here are some of his numbers through his first 14 games this season. He had played in 785 snaps, the most in the NFL among interior defensive linemen. The player-grading site Pro Football Focus has assigned Wilkins with a grade above 81 in four games of his past 12 (81.1 at home against Houston, 82.2 at home against Buffalo, 91.1 at Cincinnati and a 91.3 at the Los Angeles Chargers). For context, Wilkins had only three such grades in his first 49 career games.
One of the most incredible stats in the NFL was improved upon
Packers coach Matt LaFleur improved to 15-0 in his career in December regular-season games with the victory. He has taken a loss in January, in the season finale last year when the Packers, at a best-in-the-NFC 13-3, sat many of their starters, including Aaron Rodgers for a half.
2023 variable opponent update
With the Dolphins ensconced in second place in the AFC East after NFL Week 17, the 2023 variable games equate to home games against the Tennessee Titans and either the Carolina Panthers (if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat or tie the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night) or the Buccaneers, and a return trip to Baltimore to face the Ravens.
In the horse race with the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, who with 1,756 receiving yards is on pace to break the NFL record of 1,964 set by the Lions’ Calvin Johnson in 2012 (1,990), Hill is 124 behind Jefferson at 1,632. It can be noted that Jefferson has played two cold-weather games in his career with a combined 105 yards in that pairing, and he finishes with games in Green Bay and then Chicago.
On deck: At New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Sunday, 1 p.m.
The Dolphins head to Massachusetts with the chance to eliminate Bill Belichick and the Patriots from playoff contention. One concern for Miami will be the Pats defense, who held the Dolphins offense to 13 points in the season opener and has six defensive touchdowns this year, and has a three-game streak with at least one such score heading into the New Year’s matchup.