Sunday was a wild day both high and low for the Dolphins secondary, complete with blown pass coverages, untimely penalties and, finally, four redemptive interceptions. Ultimately, Miami’s corps of pass defenders came out on top, making monumental plays in the fourth quarter to power the Dolphins to a 31-24 road win over the Chargers to push Miami’s winning streak to four games.
What went right: A remarkable four interceptions in the fourth quarter by Miami pass defenders of veteran San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers (23-44 passing for 326 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions).
The crown jewel interception was a 60-yard pick-six interception by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso with 1:13 to play to give the Dolphins their winning score. Just half a minute later Miami cornerback Tony Lippett picked off his second pass to end the game in the final minute.
“I watched him (Rivers) the whole time and he kind of threw the fade ball and my receiver (Chargers’ Tyrell Williams) wasn’t doing anything so I just went and made a play on the ball,” Lippett said.
Dolphins corner back Byron Maxwell, who also had an interception, said the Dolphins pass rush put needed pressure on Rivers, which helped out the secondary.
“We have a lot of guys up there (on defensive line) that are proven in this league. They bring it. I enjoy playing back behind them,” Maxwell said. “We made plays when it counted. That’s all that matters in this league – we got the ‘W’.”
What went wrong for the Miami secondary: Poor pass coverage on two Chargers touchdown catches and an armada of penalties (four on cornerback Bobby McCain, two on Lippett and one on Maxwell).
“We had some ups and downs but at the end of the day it is all about finishing,” Lippett said. “Some stuff we can’t control, some stuff we aren’t going to get a call our way but at the end of the day forget about that play and move on to the next one.”
Several Dolphins were asked about the officiating and discrepancy of penalties not in their favor (11 penalties for 81 yards for Miami; 4-29 yards for San Diego) and they largely took the high road.
“They (Chargers) made some plays. (There) were some penalties that bailed them out a couple series….but we just kept battling, that was it,”
Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus said. “We made the plays when it mattered. The four interceptions today - I am proud of that.”
For much of the game the Dolphins secondary did not have a good handle on Chargers receivers, getting burned multiple times.
“We just weren’t locked in at the beginning of the game,” said McCain. “I wasn’t locked in the first quarter, myself personality. Came back in the second quarter and the rest of the game locked in and we fought through it.”
Despite the miscues and penalties, Dolphins secondary personnel were all smiles in the post-game locker-room - four late interceptions will do that.
“When you win games it makes everything easier,” McCain said.
When asked what he thought of four wins in a row, Abdul-Quddus simply smiled and said: “Love it.”