Miami Dolphins Week 16 Report Card

Breaking down how each position group performed for the Miami Dolphins during their 26-25 victory against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium
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The Dolphins were far from perfect against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Saturday night, but they somehow managed to pull out a remarkable 26-25 victory on Jason Sanders' 44-yard field goal in the waning seconds.

As such, the weekly report card features a wide range of grades:

Quarterbacks

Did anything interesting happen at this position? Just joking, of course. For the second time in his young NFL career, Tua Tagovailoa was pulled in the fourth quarter after the offense struggled. Some of Tagovailoa's numbers actually looked pretty good, such as 17 completions in 22 attempts and his 99.4 passer rating, but the one that sticks out is 94 passing yards. This was a result of Tua simply not pushing the ball downfield. Some of it was related to a conservative game plan emphasizing ball control, but there also was a part that speaks to Tagovailoa's unwillingness to take shots downfield. Though his game-changing 34-yard completion to Mack Hollins was a bit fluky and the benefit of some mind-boggingly bad defensive coverage by the Raiders, Ryan Fitzpatrick was outstanding after coming into the game. In less than one quarter, he almost doubled Tagovailo's passing yardage output with 182. Yes, he was helped by great run-after-catch work by Myles Gaskin on his 59-yard touchdown and he did badly miss Mike Gesicki in the end zone on a third-and-goal pass, but that miss came right after Hollins dropped a pass near the goal line. Overall, it was a tremendous relief performance by Fitzpatrick — even without the miraculous finish. Grade: B

Running backs

Gaskin sure made an impact in his return to the lineup after missing time on the COVID-19 list, didn't he? He not only scored two touchdowns but ended up with more than 80 yards rushing and receiving. To illustrate how impressive that was, he's the only player in the NFL to do it so far this season. The last Dolphins player to do it? Ronnie Brown all the way back in 2007. His run-after-catch on his 59-yard touchdown was nothing short of brilliant. It was remotely as good a night for Salvon Ahmed, who actually got the start but gained only 2 yards on six carries — and that includes a 5-yard gain. Ahmed also failed to pick up a blitzer on one play and gained only 1 yard on his one reception. Gaskin got the bulk of the work at running back and the grade is reflective of his work. Grade: A-

Wide receivers

The Dolphins again played without DeVante Parker and the bottom line is nobody really stepped up in his absence, with all due respect to Mack Hollins' clutch 34-yard catch late in the fourth quarter that was the result of some horrendous defensive coverage more than anything else. Earlier, Hollins had a drop near the goal line on a drive that ended with a field goal. He does deserve props for his seal block that allowed Gaskin toget outside on his long touchdown reception. Lynn Bowden Jr. got a lot of playing time against the team that drafted him but caught only two passes on three targets and gained 8 yards on his one carry. Jakeem Grant had the long reception by a wide receiver before the Hollins catch, but that was for only 14 yards and then he left with an ankle injury. Isaiah Ford did what he does, catch most passes thrown his way, with four receptions for 37 yards on five targets. Grade: C+

Tight ends

Mike Gesicki was back after missing a game with a shoulder injury, but he wasn't much of a factor with Tagovailoa in the game with only two catches for 6 yards. But after Fitzpatrick went in,  he got back-to-back catches for 17 yards (on third-and-8) and 31 yards on the fourth-quarter field goal drive. Gesicki also had a key seal block on Gaskin's long touchdown. Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen weren't factors in the passing game, though they did help Gaskin have a good night in the running game. Grade: B-

Offensive line

The Dolphins had veteran left guard Ereck Flowers back in the lineup after he missed a couple of games with an ankle injury, though rookie Solomon Kindley was out with a knee issue. The line deserves some credit for a solid night for the ground game (21 carries, 97 yards minus the fake punt and QB scrambles). Tagovailoa was sacked three times, but one of them could be blamed on hesitation on his part. Another came when Flowers and Austin Jackson failed to pick up a twist up front quickly enough. Right tackle Robert Hunt was flagged for holding. Flowers came awfully close to holding Arden Key on the most famous play of the game, which played a role in Key's arm getting up to Fitzpatrick's facemask.  A solid effort overall, though not as good as the game against New England. Grade: B

Defensive line

The Dolphins defense as a whole did not have a great night against the Raiders, giving up almost 5 yards a carry on the ground and giving up 336 gross passing yards, though 85 came on a slightly controversial play. Nobody up front for the Dolphins stood out. Zach Sieler had a tackle for loss and Raekwon Davis had a quarterback hit, but that was it in terms of the stat sheet beyond plain tackles. Emmanuel Ogbah had his highest snap percentage of the season but was very quiet. Grade: C-

Linebackers

Andrew Van Ginkel got extra playing time in the absence of Shaq Lawson and he made the most of it, coming up with two sacks and a pass defensed. Jerome Baker continued his strong work with a team-high 10 tackles and his seventh sack of the season. Kyle Van Noy had six tackles, but was flagged for offside on a key third-and-1 with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter when a stop would have given the Dolphins a lot more time at the end or would have convinced the Raiders to go for it on fourth down. Elandon Roberts had a quiet night before he left the game with what looked like a serious knee injury. Grade: B+

Secondary

The big story here, of course, involved Byron Jones, who was on the wrong end of two big plays, a questionable call and a questionable non-call. The record will show he was the one who gave up the 85-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter and later was flagged for a 49-yard defensive pass interference, but the reality is Agholor's push-off on the former was more egregious than the slight contact on the latter. Jones wasn't about to criticize the officials when he spoke to the media Monday, but we'll do it for him. He was the victim of two questionable calls. Xavien Howard was not able to get his 10th interception, but he had another strong game in coverage, allowing two completions for only 10 yards on five targets with two passes defensed. The Raiders tried to go deep to rookie Henry Ruggs III twice and Howard knocked the ball away both times. Safety Eric Rowe had a really tough time against tight end Darren Waller, who had five catches for 112 yards, but that was more the result of Waller making great catch after great catch than poor coverage by Rowe. Nik Needham was flagged once for defensive holding. This is a tough grade to give out because Jones was done wrong by the officials and Rowe just got beat by a Pro Bowl player having a great night. Still, 336 passing yards for Carr is 336 passing yards. Grade: C+

Special teams

Not exactly a shocker that Jason Sanders would come through on the 44-yard game-winning field goal attempt, was it? It capped a 4-for-4 performance for him on an up-and-down night for the special teams. The other highlight, of course, was the 22-yard run by Clayton Fejedelem after he took a direct snap in punt formation. Kudos to Fejedelem for his spin move to break free from the pile. The run led to a field goal after the two-minute warning in the first half. The bad news on special teams was the punt coverage, with the Raiders' Hunter Renfrow averaging 12.2 yards in five returns with a long of 32. As a result, Matt Haack's net punting average was a mediocre 34.4 yards. Unit captain Kavon Frazier was called for holding, forcing the Dolphins to start a drive at their 8-yard line. The game ended with Fejedelem recovering a fumble after a couple of Raiders laterals, which allowed the Dolphins to extend their streak of games with at least one takeaway. Grade: B+