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Dolphins 2021 Week 7 Report Card

Breaking down how each position group performed during the 30-28 loss against the Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium

The Miami Dolphins' losing streak continued Sunday with another heartbreaking loss, a 30-28 setback against the Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium.

Here's the weekly breakdown on how each position group performed:

Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailoa put together a very efficient performance against the Falcons by running a short passing game close to perfection. He completed an eye-opening 80 percent of his passes and threw four touchdowns, those two figures helping him compile a 109.5 passer rating. As is usually the case, Tua didn't really throw downfield; he had only one completion of at least 20 yards. His best throw was an 18-yard hook-up with Durham Smythe down the right sideline in the fourth quarter. Tua also did some good work with his scrambling, with 29 yards on four rushing attempts. The down side, of course, were the two picks when he tried to force a pass to Smythe in the end zone despite double coverage and then tried to throw instead of taking a sack. There clearly was more good than bad in Tua's performance, but there were areas to pick apart. Grade: B

Running backs

This was a really good bounce-back effort, particularly from Myles Gaskin, who rushed for a team-high 67 yards with a solid 4.5 average and had four catches and a touchdown. Salvon Ahmed had a nifty 17-yard pick-up on a screen pass in the fourth quarter and 26 yards rushing. Malcolm Brown played only five snaps before he left the game with a quad injury. Grade: B

Wide receivers

The Dolphins again had to play without DeVante Parker, out for a third consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Rookie Jaylen Waddle had another productive game with seven catches for 83 yards, but he was the only wide receiver with more than two catches. Isaiah Ford and Mack Hollins each had a touchdown catch. Preston Williams had a rough outing; he had a tough time creating separation and also had a drop. Grade: C+

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Tight ends

Mike Gesicki continued his hot streak, catching seven passes for 85 yards. He scored his second touchdown of the season and set up the final Dolphins score with a 16-yard reception on third-and-15. He also had the longest offensive play of the game with a 27-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Smythe had three catches, but he also ran a poor route on the end zone interception (even though Tua never should have thrown the ball there). Adam Shaheen had four catches but for minimal yardage. The tight ends also contributed in the running game and the run blocking for the most part was pretty good. Grade: B+

Offensive line

The Tua supporters pointing at his stat line should tip their hat to the offensive line because he benefited from very good pass protection throughout the game. Tua was sacked once when two blitzers came through the right side of the Dolphins offensive line and Robert Hunt didn't pick up either, and there also was the pressure that led to Tua's second pick after Austin Jackson was badly beaten at the line. It actually was a pretty rough game again for Jackson, who also whiffed badly on a run block and was flagged for holding after a third-and-1 netted the first down. But the rest of the line performed pretty well. And we should mention the running backs averaged more than 4 yards per carry, and the final average was 4.6 when counting Tua's scrambles. It wasn't perfect, but there's no such thing as perfect games from any offensive line anywhere. This might have been the best effort of the season by this group. Grade: B+

Defensive line

This was kind of the same performance as we saw against Jacksonville, where the defense did a pretty good job against the run, but there wasn't enough pressure on Matt Ryan. The Dolphins held Atlanta to 3.3 yards per rushing attempt, but we need to mention they couldn't stop Atlanta from gaining a first down on three running plays at the end of the game to kill the clock before the game-winning field goal. Emmanuel Ogbah had the big play up front when he forced a Ryan fumble in the fourth quarter, and Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler also had their moments in run defense. Grade: C+

Linebackers

There again wasn't enough impact made by the linebackers, which has been a recurring theme all season. It didn't help that Jerome Baker was gone after 10 plays because of a knee injury (then again, it's not like he's made many game-changing plays this year). Andrew Van Ginkel and Elandon Roberts each made a couple of plays, but nothing overly significant, and Sam Eguavoen (lot of snaps in place of Baker), Jaelan Phillips (limited snaps) and Brennan Scarlett (limited snaps) were barely noticeable. Grade: C-

Secondary

The Dolphins had Xavien Howard and Byron Jones back in the lineup, and Howard certainly played a big role in this game. He had his second interception of the season in the fourth quarter and broke up a couple of other passes, but also was on the wrong end of a key 28-yard completion to Kyle Pitts late in the game even though he had good coverage. Then again, no Dolphins player was able to cover Pitts all game, which is partly a testament to the rookie's ridiculous skills. Along with Howard's pick, Nik Needham also had the fumble recovery off the Ogbah strip of Ryan and Jevon Holland came up with a sack when he timed a blitz and didn't let Ryan get away from him. So there was some good, but Ryan did pass for 336 yards and the secondary couldn't come up big in the cluth. Grade: C

Special teams

In a game decided by two points, it turned out to be a key mistake to allow Adetokunbo Ogundeji a clear path through the line to block Jason Sanders' 49-yard field goal attempt in the first half. Holland took over for Waddle on punt returns and two opposite results, a way-too-early fair catch followed by a nifty 16-yard return where he broke a couple of tackles. Punter Michael Palardy also had his best game of the season with a gross of 51.3 and a net of 45.7. The Dolphins did allow a 17-yard punt return. There was overall more good than bad in the kicking game, but the blocked field goal proved very costly indeed. Grade: C-