Miami Dolphins vs. Arizona Cardinals: Final Report Card for Arizona
The Cardinals somehow pulled this game out after quarterback Kevin Kolb threw an inexplicable interception in the end zone while trying to extend a fourth-quarter lead. He threw two picks for the game, but it was his third touchdown pass—the second to wide receiver Andre Roberts— with :22 remaining that sent the game to overtime, giving kicker Jay Feely the opportunity to win yet another game for his team during extra time.
The defense played poorly in the first half, allowing two long scoring drives and three overall.
They stepped it up in the second half, however, creating four turnovers en route to the victory. Because of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's 26-of-41, 431-yard performance, safety Adrian Wilson led the team with 10 tackles. He also came away with three deflected passes and a sack of Tannehill.
It all adds up to the Cardinals moving to 4-0 for the first time since 1974 (they started 7-0 that year) and remaining all alone in first place, one game ahead of the San Francisco 49ers.
Now we get to the final grades.
Kevin Kolb: C
Final Grade: C
Kevin Kolb completed 29-of-48 for 324 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for an 84.0 QB rating.
He was sacked eight times for minus-55 yards. He missed open receivers at times, and he hit covered receivers other times. It was the most up-and-down performance of his Cardinals career. The fact that it resulted in a victory is a miracle.
With more performances like this, fans will continue biting their nails in the stands.
Fourth Quarter: F
One throw ruins what could have been an otherwise decent day. Kolb's first interception was a great throw compared to the abomination that was No. 2.
After a game-changing turnover caused by the defense, giving the offense the ball on the Miami three-yard line, Kolb rolled right with Fitzgerald in an attempt to get him the ball at the pylon. The play was covered by Sean Smith, but Kolb threw the ball anyway.
The ball was picked off in the end zone.
Arizona's defense was able to generate yet another turnover, and Kolb hit Andre Roberts for a second time.
Third Quarter: B+
Kolb came out and led the offense down the field for a touchdown. The drive covered eight plays 59 yards, with Kolb completing 5-of-8 passes for 59 yards and a score to Fitzgerald on a three-yard screen pass.
He was backed up on the Cards' second drive and couldn't do anything with it, but momentum seems to be shifting. The touchdown drive is a main part of that.
Second Quarter: D
Kolb is completing passes, but the yards are not there. Check-downs and dump-offs won't get the job done. He will have to challenge the secondary at some point. Kolb completed 8-of-9 passes for just 46 yards, the only incompletion coming on the late-half interception to CB Sean Smith.
The offensive line play is not helping.
First Quarter: B-
Kolb went 3-for-3 on his first drive of the game for 25 yards. He hit tight end Jeff King twice and Larry Fitzgerald once. The drive stalled on a 3rd-and-6 when Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake beat right tackle Bobby Massie, taking Kolb down for a loss of seven yards.
Overall, Kolb went 3-of-5 for 25 yards.
Final Grade: C-
Overall, the offense was less than mediocre. The Miami defense was good where it was projected to be—against the run—and poor, likewise, against the pass.
The leading rusher for Arizona was Ryan Williams, but he carried the ball only 13 times for just 26 yards. The Dolphins came in with the third-ranked run defense, and it improved Sunday. The Cards rushed for just 28 yards on 15 carries.
As mentioned, Kolb threw for over 300 yards. He had to throw the ball 48 times, however, and that is not a recipe for prolonged success. With Beanie Wells out, the quarterback will have to throw the ball more, but not that much more.
The Cardinals must establish the run in future games to give the defense a rest. They were on the field a lot against Miami—35:00 in total.
Andre Roberts was the star of the receiving corps, hauling in six passes for a career-high 118 yards ans two touchdowns.
Larry Fitzgerald added eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown and led the team in targets.
Fourth Quarter: D
The offensive line was an issue all day, and the fourth quarter is no exception. Kolb was sacked eight times—more than the season total of five they had given up through three games.
Kolb's decision-making this quarter was bad, but it was also good. Kolb led a game-tying touchdown drive culminating when he hit Andre Roberts in the front corner of the end zone with 22 ticks left on the clock.
Third Quarter: B-
No run-game of which to speak still, but Kolb has gotten the offense on the board through the air. An end-of-the-quarter drive had the offense into Miami territory, but the drive stalled after back-to-back poor throws from Kolb.
The tide is turning, but more will need to be done to close the deal.
Second Quarter: F
There is nothing going on, and the culprit is the offensive line. Left tackle D'Anthony Batiste is holding up fine, but rookie right tackle Bobby Massie is being made to look like a high-schooler playing in the NFL because of Cameron Wake.
Wake has three sacks of Kolb, and the coaching staff has yet to help Massie once. He is being left on an island with one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, and it's costing the offense yards and points.
Kolb looked decent until a late-half interception while the offense was moving the ball. The throw was to Fitzgerald and should not have been thrown.
There is no rushing attack of which to speak. Williams has four carries for 18 yards.
First Quarter: C-
Running back Ryan Williams carried the ball three times for 14 yards and Jeff King added two catches, but the offense has nothing going as of yet. Kolb missed Fitzgerald on an occasion that set up a punt.
Kolb missed Michael Floyd on another occasion—though Floyd should have made the catch regardless.
The offensive line held up decently, but Massie's sack to Wake ruined an otherwise good start for the offense.
Final Grade: B-
The unit struggled as a whole in the first half, unable to generate much pressure on Tannehill and allowing receivers open lanes through which to run.
They stifled Reggie Bush for the most part, minus a missed tackle or two. He finished with 17 carries for 67 yards. The Cardinals allowed their first rushing touchdown of the season, a second-quarter one-yard plunge by Dolphins fullback Jorvorskie Lane.
The second half was brilliant from the defense. While they were unable to create any turnovers in the first half, Arizona manned-up and forced four from the third quarter on—including a Kerry Rhodes interception in overtime, setting up Feely's game-winner.
A bit unexpected, the secondary struggled to contain the Dolphins top two receivers, Davone Bess and Brian Hartline. The two combined to catch 19 balls for a staggering 376 yards and one touchdown. Hartline caught 12 for a franchise record 253 yards and hauled in the 80-yard TD that shifted momentum back to Miami late in the fourth.
Overall, the defense still has things to work on, and on a short week and traveling to division rival St. Louis, they need to get it together in a hurry.
Fourth Quarter: B+
The defense allowed a touchdown following Kolb's interception. Other than that, they forced two three-and-outs, two turnovers and sacked Tannehill twice. They were brilliant.
If not for one 80-yard mishap, the game would be over. But we're in overtime.
Third Quarter: A+
The defense we all expected to see showed up in the third quarter. Starting with a bend-but-don't-break drive that saw Dan Carpenter miss a 51-yard field goal, the Cardinals nearly had three interceptions in successive drives.
They came away with only one, but the unit is playing much better compared to the first half. The pressure has been non-existent still, but the run defense has stepped up.
Second Quarter: F
Rushing. Passing. Catching. The Miami offense did it all in the second quarter. They were unstoppable. Reggie Bush gashed the front seven and Tannehill completed 7-of-11 for 133 yards.
Cornerback William Gay is having one of the worst days of his career, certainly of his Cardinals career. He hasn't adjusted at all yet. Bess burned him in the first quarter, then Brian Hartline did the same in the second.
He went back to guarding Bess, and Tannehill found him wide open down the middle following Kolb's interception to set up a 27-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter.
Dolphins 13, Cardinals 0 at the half.
First Quarter: B-
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 8-of-10 passes for 86 yards in the opening quarter and hit a wide-open Davone Bess three times for 51 yards. William Gay has struggled in covering Bess. If Gay doesn't adjust quickly, the defense may find itself in a hole.
Reggie Bush is playing, but he was stifled in the first quarter, carrying the ball four times for nine yards.
Pressure has been inconsistent, with Sam Acho recording the only sack thus far.
Special Teams: B
Final Grade: B
Running back William Powell fumbled a kickoff return. Patrick Peterson muffed two punt returns and fair-caught another at his own three-yard line.
Other than those miscues, the special teams unit was solid as usual.
Punter Dave Zastudil averaged a manly 48.3 yards per punt and pinned the Dolphins inside the 20-yard line three times—once inside the 10.
Jay Feely was useless until he came on in overtime with 8:39 remaining, hitting a game-winning 46-yard field goal.
Fourth Quarter: B
Zastudil continued to boom punts. He changed field position and kept Arizona in the game. Jay Feely hasn't been close enough to attempt a field goal. Yet.
Third Quarter: B+
This would be an "A" if not for a bone-headed mistake from Patrick Peterson. He fair-caught a punt at his own three-yard line, handcuffing the offense. They weren't able to do anything on the drive.
Punter Dave Zastudil changed field position this quarter, getting off two booming kicks that helped the defense change momentum.
Second Quarter: D
Penalties on special teams hurt, perhaps even worse than on offense or defense. The Cardinals are shooting themselves in the foot today.
Powell has fumbled on a kick return, and even Patrick Peterson muffed a punt return. Everyone looks flat. It's time to step it up.
First Quarter: C-
Running back William Powell returned the opening kick 24 yards before fumbling it into the arms of teammate Anthony Sherman. Patrick Peterson had no room to work with on his only punt return. Punter Dave Zastudil has punted twice already.
Final Grade: B
Offensive coordinator Mike Miller took what Miami gave him, and that led to Kolb throwing the ball a Cardinals career-high 48 times. There was nothing going on by way of the ground attack, and he didn't force it.
He adjusted well at halftime, calling more short routes for Kolb and the pass-protection-challenged offensive line. It marginally helped, but every millisecond counts in the NFL.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton called another good game. He was let down by blown coverages and was beaten by Tannehill only once (on the 80-yard TD), but overall it was a solid day for Horton. His defense sacked the rookie four times and forced four second-half turnovers.
It was the shakiest performance of the season on both sides of the ball, but the team was able to win and move to 4-0.
Fourth Quarter: B
One slip on defense and the inability to run the ball with any effectiveness nearly cost the team the game in the fourth. Miller called what was working, and the game is now going to overtime.
Third Quarter: A
Adjustments have been made and are evident on both sides of the ball. Massie is getting help with Wake and the defense has shined.
They will need to keep it up to pull out the victory.
Second Quarter: C-
Cameron Wake continues to abuse right tackle Bobby Massie. Wake has all three Dolphins sacks so far, and the coaching staff has yet to help the rookie out.
The pressure is consistently in Kolb's face, and the short throws have been there to counter the pressure, but eventually Kolb will need a clean pocket to get the ball downfield.
Horton will have to make some adjustments to the secondary. Gay, his starting corner opposite Peterson, continues to be raked over the coals by both Davone Bess and Brian Hartline. The game may slip away if Gay remains on either of those two.
First Quarter: B
Coordinator Mike Miller has called a good game to this point. Mixing in the pass and run well, the offense has executed five run plays and five pass plays (not counting the sack). The execution itself needs to improve.
Coordinator Ray Horton will look to get more pressure on Tannehill. The rookie was sacked once, but he looked comfortable in the pocket otherwise.
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