The most anticipated foreign game of the season ended with one play – a botched snap.
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs defeated Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins 21-14. The game, played in Frankfurt, Germany, got exciting in the second half after Kansas City took a 21-0 lead at halftime. With the Dolphins potentially tying the game in the final minutes, center Connor Williams threw an errant snap on fourth down, sealing their fate.
Miami now falls to 6-3, while Kansas City improves to 7-2 and remains atop the AFC.
Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s Dolphins-Chiefs game:
1. The Dolphins haven’t proven they’re real Super Bowl contenders
At some point, the Dolphins will have to beat a great team if they want to be taken seriously as a contender.
They have had three chances this season. They sniffed all three swings. It started with a 48-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills, a week after they dropped 70 points to the struggling Denver Broncos. Then, on Sunday Night Football in Week 7, Miami visited Philadelphia and lost 31-17 to the Eagles.
That brings us to Sunday morning, when the Dolphins offense was silenced against the Chiefs. A Chiefs team fresh off an ugly loss to the aforementioned Broncos. While the Dolphins’ defense grew stronger with a scoreless second half, their potent offense remained relatively quiet.
For your convenience, here is the balance of the nine games this season.
- Dolphins vs. teams under .500
- Record: 6:0
- Points per game: 39.0
- Average margin of victory: 18.2
- Dolphins vs teams over .500
- Record: 0-3
- Points per game: 17.0
- Average defeat: 16.3
Until the Dolphins put together a complete performance against a worthy opponent, it’s only fair to question them.
2. The Chiefs defense is carrying them this season
Somewhat quietly, the Chiefs defense is the best it has ever been in the Patrick Mahomes era.
Steve Spagnuolo’s team has allowed just 15.9 points per game for nine weeks – an easy recipe for success when you have the best quarterback in football at your side.
Sunday’s performance was perhaps their best performance of the season against the league’s best offense. The Chiefs sacked Tagovailoa three times and held the quarterback to a season-low 193 passing yards. Most importantly, they had the performance of the game – which ultimately made the difference. Late in the second quarter, Trent McDuffie picked off Tyreek Hill before Mike Edwards recovered the ball and passed it to Bryan Cook. The safety then sprinted 59 yards for a touchdown.
A dominant Chiefs defense could be a nightmare for opponents in the postseason, when Mahomes usually falters.
3. The AFC is still wide open
The Chiefs and Dolphins entered Week 9 as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the AFC, respectively. But if Sunday’s game was any indication, neither team should be comfortable in their current state.
Kansas City is still missing another playmaker on offense. Miami still hasn’t won a big game. Behind these two are several capable AFC opponents ready to attack.
The Baltimore Ravens have revamped their offense under Todd Monken. The Jacksonville Jaguars are on a five-game winning streak. The Buffalo Bills still have Josh Allen and a team that is coming off multiple playoff battles. The Cincinnati Bengals are finally getting going after a slow start.
That being said, you can’t just schedule these two teams for a rematch in the AFC Championship Game in a few months. Even though everyone has their own weaknesses, there is still a lot to play with.