The Miami Dolphins bounced back from their first loss of the season, authoring a 31-16 victory over the New York Giants Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
The win pushed Miami (4-1) back into sole possession of first place in the AFC East, after the Buffalo Bills lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 25-20, in London, earlier in the day.
The Dolphins continued to pad their statistically dominant offensive totals in the win over the last-place Giants (1-4), and wide receiver Tyreek Hill led the way. The veteran totaled eight catches for 181 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown.
And rookie running back Devon Achane also was able to make an impact, posting 151 yards on the ground, headlined by a 76-yard touchdown.
“I think a lot of things were going right for us,” quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said, adding that he thought both of Miami’s lines “did a tremendous job.”
Miami’s pass rush was indeed able to make an impact, finishing with seven sacks. Defensive tackle Zach Sieler lived in the backfield, tallying two sacks, as the Giants lost their third straight game. En route to the loss, New York did not score an offensive touchdown.
“Yeah, we do the right stuff during the week,” New York coach Brian Daboll said. “Prepare, practice, just not quite putting it together during the game. And give Miami credit: That’s a heck of a team.”
The numbers bear that out. In fact, Miami is 4-1 for the first time since 2003. The Dolphins’ offense has tallied 2,568 total yards, the most in the first five games of a season in NFL history. And the club is tied with the Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) for the top spot in the AFC.
The Giants’ 16-point performance was boosted by a 102-yard interception return for a touchdown from linebacker Jason Pinnock. It was one of two Tagovailoa interceptions in the win.
“Yeah, things happen. Obviously, poor decision on my part,” Tagovailoa said of the turnover. “But it’s football. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s really how you come back and how you continue to play.”
New York was able to steal another interception in the third quarter when Tagovailoa’s mental mistake of a throw meant for Jaylen Waddle landed in the hands of Bobby Okereke. Tagovailoa engineered a solid outing overall, however, throwing for 308 yards with two touchdowns with a passer rating of 100.8.
“I know how to move forward from that,” he said of his mistakes. “It happens, and then it’s time to move on, and then what does this play entail for you to do to get your job done for all these guys?”
Tagovailoa’s maturity as a quarterback appears to show each week, a huge reason for the Dolphins’ success. And Miami coach Mike McDaniel is seeing that play out right in front of him. In fact, he watched his quarterback call his own play on the touchdown pass to Hill.
“We do give him liberties within the offense,” he said. “From a progression standpoint, I think he prefers to go and let it play or let it play out. But, sure. He can call all the plays, for all I care. And I think that’s the type of mindset that everyone has.”
On the other sideline, the significant regression of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is just as evident as Tagovailoa’s maturity. After authoring a playoff victory last season, Jones is missing targets and piling up losses. He also left Sunday’s game with a neck injury.
“I feel fine, a little bit a pain, it’s a physical game,” Jones said after the loss. “I’ll meet with the doctors and trainers and go from there.”
The Giants played without star running back Saquon Barkley, though it may not have made much of a difference. In fact, Daboll appeared frustrated in his postgame press conference, pinning much of his club’s fortunes on himself.
“We’re not doing a good enough job. It’s all on me, I’m the head coach. Offense, defense, kicking game,” Daboll said.
It doesn’t get any easier for New York. The Giants will face the Bills (3-2) on Sunday Night Football next week.
As for Miami, the Dolphins will look to remain unbeaten at home on Sunday, when they meet the Carolina Panthers (0-5).