Highs, lows and everything in between. It wasn’t just the story of the Dolphins’ 20-16 loss to the Lions Sunday.
It was the story of their special teams, in particular.
The good: A 46-yard kickoff return by Jarvis Landry, who proved that his Player of the Month award was no fluke.
The bad: Allowing the Lions to convert a fake punt as punter Sam Martin connected with Jed Collins for a 24-yard catch-and-run on an early fourth-and-6.
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The ugly: Committing an illegal shift on a fake punt of their own, which erased what would have been a Dolphins first down.
But of all the wackiness on special teams Sunday — which featured three fakes in the first 20 minutes — no play was bigger than the first blocked field goal of Earl Mitchell’s career.
The Dolphins defensive tackle got so much penetration, he didn’t even need to jump to swat away Matt Prater’s 42-yard attempt. Dion Jordan scooped up the football and raced 58 yards until he was finally tackled. The Dolphins were in the end zone on the next play.
“I should have scored,” Jordan said sheepishly.
Said Mitchell: “That was my first one. I was definitely excited about that. It was a momentum-shifting play.”
In all, the Dolphins actually had an edge on special teams. Their net and gross punting was better than Detroit’s. Landry provided a lift in the return game.
Plus, kicker Caleb Sturgis had a strong day, connecting on all three field-goal attempts, including one from 50 yards.
“There was some good things, but not enough,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
As expected, Lamar Miller was active and started a week after sustaining a shoulder sprain. But also, as expected, he was limited.
He had a season-low four carries (for 10 yards), with one catch out of the backfield.
And with the game on the line and the Dolphins trying to run out the clock, Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams got carries on the failed drive. Miller did not.
No surprise, then, that the Dolphins’ running game — ranked in the top 5 entering Week 10 — was neutralized. Miami had just 50 yards on the ground (on 19 carries), and the read option was ineffective. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had no yards on two rushes Sunday.
This and that
▪ Although Dallas Thomas started in place of Daryn Colledge (out with a back injury), Shelley Smith played extensively at left guard — particularly when Thomas moved to right tackle after Branden Albert’s season-ending knee injury.
▪ The Dolphins’ inactives were: Colledge; offensive tackle Jason Fox; defensive tackle Anthony Johnson; guard Billy Turner; defensive end Terrence Fede; tight end Dion Sims; and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.
▪ A pretty game this was not. The Lions committed 10 penalties for 98 yards. The Dolphins were flagged five times for 44 yards — including three on Detroit’s first drive.
▪ With two sacks Sunday, Cameron Wake moved into fifth on the Dolphins’ all-time sacks list, passing Jeff Cross. He has 60 in his career.