Dolphins offensive line vs. Lions defensive line
Who won: Detroit.
The impact: Although the Dolphins kept the Lions from rampaging to double-digit sacks after allowing two on the first possession, quarterback Ryan Tannehill spent the day smelling the breath of at least one Lions defensive lineman on most pass plays. Three sacks and nine hits dented Tannehill’s effectiveness and nearly Tannehill himself. Even before left tackle Brandon Albert got carted off with an injury, the Dolphins had a tough time run blocking (50 yards on 19 carries). Runners faced waves of blue, led by Detroit defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Ezekiel Ansah, just after the handoff.
Dolphins CB Brent Grimes vs. Lions’ Calvin Johnson
Who won: Draw.
The impact: How can we call this a draw when Johnson caught seven passes for 113 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown? Because: a) though the touchdown came against Grimes, not all the other catches did; b) the way the game is officiated now, it’s almost impossible to hold a receiver like Johnson to small numbers unless he or his quarterback plays as if blindfolded; and c) Grimes took a touchdown away from Johnson with an incredible leaping end-zone interception on a bomb.
Dolphins pass coverage vs. Lions’ Golden Tate
Who won: Detroit.
The impact: Tate is the Lions wide receiver who eventually killed the Dolphins. Matthew Stafford targeted him 13 times and he caught 11 for 109 yards. Stafford hit Tate for two significant gains on the final drive: for 17 yards on a second-and-9 from the Detroit 27 and for 10 yards on third-and-10 from the Miami 27. On the third-down Tate caught the ball short of the first down, turned up field and got just enough before being tripped for the first down at the Dolphins 17.