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Ranking the Dolphins' Performances of the 2021 Season

Breaking down the Miami Dolphins efforts in 2021 from their best game to their worst

The Miami Dolphins finished the 2021 regular season with a 9-8 record after rebounding from a 1-7 start, securing their second consecutive winning record in the process.

But not every victory was the same, just like not every loss was identical.

That said, we rank the Dolphins' 17 games of the 2021 season from best performance to worst, taking into consideration not just the final score but the quality of the opponent and how the final result was achieved.

The 2021 season was a wild ride for the Miami Dolphins, who made NFL history by following a seven-game losing streak with a seven-game winning streak.

As a way to looking back at the season, we pick one lasting image from each game before we rank the Dolphins' performance in each game from 1-17.

1. Dolphins 33, Carolina 10 (Week 12)

Sure, in retrospect, this doesn't look as significant a victory considering how Carolina faded down the stretch, but this clearly was the most impressive victory of the winning streak. 

2. Dolphins 33, New England (Week 18)

This was a really convincing victory where the Dolphins led the whole way, and it would rank number 1 if not for the fact that the Patriots maybe got caught scoreboard watching and perhaps let up seeing Buffalo in control against the Jets, thereby locking in their status as a wild-card team.

3. Dolphins 22, Baltimore 10 (Week 10)

While the offensive performance was rather pedestrian, particularly until Tua Tagovailoa entered the game in the third quarter, this was a masterful defensive effort against a Ravens team that was among the best in the AFC at the time.

4. Dolphins 17, New England 16 (Week 1)

Yes, the Dolphins were fortunate to leave Gillette Stadium with a victory, thanks to Xavien Howard's heroics late in the fourth quarter, but this was a big-time win nonetheless in a road season opener against a team that ended up in the playoffs.

5. Las Vegas 31, Dolphins 28, OT (Week 3)

Again, before anyone starts screaming that the Dolphins lost this game, we're fully aware of that fact and we presented as the best performances of the season. Truth is, the Dolphins had all kinds of opportunities to win this game but were let down by a bad safety given up, a close call in the end zone on a play that easily could have been a defensive pass interference and a timid coaching decision in overtime (going for a 50-yard field goal instead of trying to get the first down on fourth-and-2).

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6. Dolphins 20, New Orleans 3 (Week 16)

This was a beatdown from start to finish, but the Dolphins lose some points here because the Saints were crippled by their COVID-19 and had to have rookie Ian Book take his first regular season snaps at quarterback.

7. Dolphins 24, N.Y. Jets 17 (Week 11)

This was perhaps the Dolphins' worst defensive effort during their winning streak, but the offense also came through, with the highlight being Tua's 65-yard touchdown pass to Mack Hollins.

8. Atlanta 30, Dolphins 28 (Week 7)

Sure, the Dolphins ended losing the game and Tua threw two picks, but this was an entertaining back-and-forth battle that either team could have won.

9. Dolphins 20, N.Y. Giants (Week 13)

Talk about doing what you need to do to win. This was not an inspired performance by the Dolphins, who did little offensively but took advantage of journeyman Mike Glennon starting at quarterback for the Giants.

10. Dolphins 31, N.Y. Jets 24 (Week 15)

We were tempted to put this game lower because of the sloppy play, including the pick-six by the Jets, but the Dolphins did put 31 points on the board and Duke Johnson did rush for over 100 yards.

11. Jacksonville 23, Dolphins 20 (Week 6)

Yes, this was a bad loss considering the Jaguars had yet to win, but it's not like the Dolphins played a horrible game. Besides, the outcome basically came down to the Dolphins getting stuffed on a fourth-and-1 run, the Jaguars pulling off a miraculous fourth-down pass play in seconds, and kicker Matthew Wright making the two biggest kicks of his career in the final 4 minutes.

12. Dolphins 17, Houston 9 (Week 9)

This is the game that started the winning streak, but if we're being honest the Dolphins wouldn't have beaten many teams that day. Not while gaining only 262 yards with five turnovers.

13. Indianapolis 27, Dolphins 17 (Week 4)

The defense held the Cols in check for the first quarter and a half before getting run over, while the offense didn't do anything until the fourth quarter in a dreary effort the day after the life of Don Shula was celebrated at Hard Rock Stadium.

14. Buffalo 26, Dolphins 11 (Week 8)

We were tempted to put this game higher because the defense played really well in the first half, but the offense couldn't get out of its own way — literally, if you remember the famous shotgun snap hitting Mike Gesicki while he was in motion, costing the Dolphins three points before halftime.

15. Tampa Bay 45, Dolphins 17 (Week 5)

Do you remember that the Dolphins actually led 10-7 after the first quarter in that game? From there, the Dolphins just had no answer whatsoever for Tom Brady and company.

16. Buffalo 35, Miami 0 (Week 2)

This was a rough one, with the main problem being that the offensive line simply couldn't protect its quarterback, whether it be Tua Tagovailoa before he left the game with a rib injury or Jacoby Brissett after he replaced him.

17. Tennessee 34, Dolphins 3 (Week 17)

Yeah, that one is pretty easy, isn't it? That said, we'll maintain to this day that the defense did not play a terrible game, but the offense flat out wasn't competitive and never gave the team a chance to win.