Miami Dolphins

Dolphins at Chargers: Who won the key matchups?

Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert is treated on the field after getting hurt during the first half in an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in San Diego.
Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert is treated on the field after getting hurt during the first half in an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in San Diego. AP

Dolphins O-line vs. Chargers D-line

Who won: Chargers

Impact: Nothing went right. What didn’t look good before left tackle Branden Albert went down looked even worse when the Dolphins put in practice squad graduate Ulrick John after Albert’s injury. John got so turned around that he looked like John Ulrick before they replaced him with guard Dallas Thomas’ whiffs and holds. Then, center Mike Pouncey left the game. In all of this, Dolphins runners often got hit at the handoff, thus killing the running game (44 rushing yards, 2.3 per carry) and any reason for the Chargers pass rush to pause before blowing by the Dolphins’ tackles (three sacks for 29 yards, a lot of heavy hits on Ryan Tannehill).

Dolphins’ pass coverage vs. Chargers’ passing game

Who won: Chargers

Impact: Whether it was linebackers on San Diego running back Danny Woodhead, Dolphins corners such as rookie Bobby McCain often barely being close enough to receivers to be blamed for the reception, San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers didn’t have windows to throw through — he had sliding glass doors. Rivers finished 26 of 36 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Even the Dolphins’ interceptions embarrassed. Reshad Jones fumbled his back to the Chargers. Brent Grimes’ was beaten by two yards on his pick, but Rivers noodle-armed the throw to Malcolm Floyd.

Dolphins on third down vs. Chargers defense

Who won: Chargers

Impact: The Dolphins went 2 for 14 on third down. But as usual for one of the worst third-down teams in the NFL, the problem lay on first and second downs. Average length for Dolphins’ third downs Sunday: 9.7 yards. That’s not the Dolphins’ personnel and no NFL team’s playbook teems with good third-and-9 plays. The Dolphins converted a third-and-1 and a third-and-8, so the failures averaged 10.6 yards. With the porous pass protection giving quarterback Ryan Tannehill about the length of time between a green light and a South Florida honk, third-and-long conversions counted as fantasies.

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