Doomed by a slow start, Dolphins fall to champion Chiefs in Germany

The Miami Dolphins were shut out in the first half for the first time since Week 2 of the 2021 season, and ultimately fell short to the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs, 21-14, on Sunday in the first-ever NFL regular-season game in Germany.

A crowd of 50,023 fans at Frankfurt Stadium saw the Dolphins, and their NFL’s top-ranked offense, sputter out of the gate, falling behind the Chiefs, 21-0, by halftime of the NFL International Series game.

“For the things that our defense did right there, that was a tremendous achievement,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. “Obviously, we got to keep it going. You’re just as good as the next game that you play in. (But) that was a heck of an achievement.”

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdown passes, one each to Rashee Rice and Jerrick McKinnon, in the win. Mahomes had a season-low 185 yards passing, despite completing 20 of 30 passes, but the Chiefs did enough to hold off Miami.

Tight end Travis Kelce, another one of Kansas City’s marquee stars, recorded only three receptions for 14 yards, but that was sufficient for him to claim the title of the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving yards.

The Chiefs’ third touchdown came from safety Bryan Cook, who scored on a 59-yard fumble return.

“He got those knees up and was rolling down the field,” Mahomes said of Cook. “Huge play that obviously mattered a ton in the game.”

Internationally, the Chiefs extended their winning streak to three games, while the Dolphins dropped to just 2-5 when playing outside the United States.

Miami (6-3) kept getting stuck in third-and-long situations, and was forced to rely heavily on Jake Bailey, who had five punts in the first half alone. He hadn’t had five — total — in any game all season.

The Dolphins did manage to put points on the board in the second half with two touchdowns, closing to within one score of the Chiefs.

Tua Tagovailoa completed 21 out of 34 passes for a season-low 193 yards and just one score, a 31-yard touchdown strike to Cedrick Wilson Jr. His right-hand man, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, finished with eight catches for 62 yards.

“At this point, it’s ourselves versus ourselves. We have to find a way to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Hill, a former Chief. “It’s on me to make plays.”

Miami wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday, during the second half of the Dolphins’ 21-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany. (Photo Courtesy of Miami Dolphins)

Running back Raheem Mostert finished with 12 carries for 85 yards and one touchdown, his 11th of the season.

In the closing minutes, with fans on their feet throughout the stadium, Tagovailoa bobbled the snap and was unable to get a pass off from the Chiefs’ 31-yard line before being sacked. This costly turnover sealed the game for Kansas City, and ended Miami’s comeback bid.

“I’m always going to blame myself — I’ve got to catch the ball,” Tagovailoa said. “Can’t end the game like that when we have an opportunity like that against a really good team.”

Despite leading the NFL in offense, the Dolphins have been unable to secure a victory against a team with a winning record, falling to 0-3. All of their wins being against weaker opponents, none of which have more than three wins.

“It is hard to win in this league. To win in any right against any opponent is something not to take for granted,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “As long as you continue to get better, ultimately that narrative will subside. But that’s on us collectively from coaches and players alike to — if you want the narrative to change, change the narrative.”

Both the Dolphins and Chiefs (7-2) have their bye in Week 10. In Week 11, the Dolphins face the Las Vegas Raiders (4-5) at Hard Rock Stadium, while the Chiefs face the Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) in a Super Bowl rematch.

Eliana Sojo is a senior majoring in digital and interactive media. After graduating, she wants to work in either the sports or entertainment industry.