Miami Dolphins

Quarter-by-quarter analysis: Miami Dolphins’ 39-36 loss to the Denver Broncos

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill tries to dodge Denver Broncos defender T.J. Ward in the second quarter as a light snow falls at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado, Nov. 23, 2014.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill tries to dodge Denver Broncos defender T.J. Ward in the second quarter as a light snow falls at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado, Nov. 23, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

First quarter

▪ Impact player: Dolphins running back Lamar Miller’s four carries for 38 yards established a tone of speed and toughness that the Dolphins offense maintained most of the day.

▪ Highlights: The Dolphins moved down the field in big chunks on the game’s first possession to lead to Daniel Thomas’ 3-yard touchdown. Safety Jamar Taylor jumped all over a bubble screen to kill Denver’s first drive in the red zone. The defense followed with a three-and-out. The offense rolled up 104 yards — 62 on the ground — the most Denver’s allowed in a quarter all season.

▪ Lowlights: Jimmy Wilson got a silly unnecessary roughness penalty, exchanging repeated head butts with Denver wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. More ominous: Denver immediately showed the ability and willingness to run the ball.

Second quarter

▪ Impact player: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill ran for one touchdown, threw for another and completed every pass.

▪ Highlights: Tannehill’s two 10-yard roll-out passes to Mike Wallace set up Tannehill’s 1-yard TD run and scored the Dolphins’ second touchdown of the quarter. Miller began the quarter with an 11-yard run and jumped on a Rishard Matthews fumble after a 21-yard gain to keep the second TD drive alive.

▪ Lowlights: Left tackle Juwan James left the game with an injury. What really hurt the Dolphins wasn’t the Denver 80-yard drive that cut the Dolphins lead to 14-10, but the second that closed the gap to 21-17 at halftime. That one began with 1:54 left in the half and saw Jamar Taylor give up a 30-yard Peyton Manning-to-Sanders bomb on third-and-20. Both drives ended with TD passes to Demaryius Thomas.

Third quarter

▪ Impact player: Denver safety T.J. Ward had a rough quarter. Draped on Dion Sims, he couldn’t stop a third-and-8 completion. He caused an incompletion with a hit on Damien Williams. But then committed a holding penalty that nullified a Denver interception, which was then fumbled and recovered by the Dolphins.

▪ Highlights: The Dolphins foiled a third-and-1 pass play and Manning took a sack. The ensuing 33-yard field goal attempt went off the right upright. A punt return fumble caused by Williams and recovered on the Denver 12 by long snapper John Denney set up a Tannehill to Jarvis Landry 5-yard TD pass.

▪ Lowlights: Safety Jamar Taylor sustained a shoulder injury that ended his game. On the last play of the quarter, Denver’s C.J. Anderson ran through a huge hole for 20 yards on fourth-and-2 from the Dolphins 41.

Fourth quarter

▪ Impact player: Anderson capped his big day by running for a 10-yard touchdown, recovering a Dolphins onside kick and breaking a 26-yard run that allowed the Broncos to run out the clock.

▪ Highlights: After the Broncos appeared to have the game won up 39-28 with 3:08 left, the Dolphins drove 84 yards in 1:39 to Landry’s 1-yard touchdown. On the way, Tannehill hit Landry for 7 yards to convert a fourth-and-2 from the Denver 43.

▪ Lowlights: The Dolphins gave up 22 unanswered points in the fourth — three touchdowns and a two-point conversion — and never did get anything resembling regular pressure on Manning. The last Denver touchdown followed an interception off Landry’s hands to Ward, who returned the ball to the Dolphins’ 8. The Dolphins onside-kick had everything but except a tricky bounce. Denver easily recovered.

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