Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins Beat Alvin Kamara, Saints on MNF for 7th Consecutive WinDecember 28, 2021
The Miami Dolphins earned their seventh straight win with a 20-3 road victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night. Tua Tagovailoa threw for 198 yards, a touchdown and an interception as Miami improved to 8-7.
With the win, the Dolphins kept their playoff hopes alive and stayed in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot. It's the team's first win streak of seven games since 1985. Miami is now the first team in NFL history to have a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak in the same season.
Rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who entered the game with 86 receptions, had 10 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. He now trails Anquan Boldin's rookie record of 101 catches by five with two games left in the season.
The Saints fell to 7-8 with the loss. Star running back Alvin Kamara totaled 59 scrimmage yards on 15 touches. Rookie quarterback Ian Book threw for 135 yards and two interceptions in his first career start.
New Orleans was without several key players due to a COVID-19 outbreak, including quarterback Taysom Hill, backup Trevor Siemian, linebacker and defensive captain Demario Davis and veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, MIA: 19-of-26 for 198 YDS, TD, INT
Jaylen Waddle, WR, MIA: 10 REC for 92 YDS, TD
Ian Book, QB, NO: 12-of-20 for 135 YDS, 2 INT
Alvin Kamara, RB, NO: 13 CAR for 52 YDS; 2 REC for 7 YDS
Miami's Dominant Defense Makes Up for Middling Offense
If one thing was clear at the start of the game, it was that the Dolphins defense was pumped to face a quarterback with no experience. Miami opened the game with a pick-six on the Saints' first drive and never looked back.
Defense gets the <a href="https://twitter.com/MiamiDolphins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MiamiDolphins</a> on the board! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FinsUp?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FinsUp</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsNO?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsNO</a> on ESPN<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/vO18DNaTaF">https://t.co/vO18DNaTaF</a> <a href="https://t.co/RdqeKVusRO">pic.twitter.com/RdqeKVusRO</a>
The defensive performance was needed because of a pedestrian performance by Miami's offense. Tagovailoa and Co. failed to fully take advantage of a New Orleans team missing some of its best players.
The Dolphins offense accounted for only 13 points with just one touchdown drive. Tagovailoa threw a puzzling interception that fell right into the hands of Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore.
Intercepted by the Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore! <a href="https://twitter.com/shonrp2?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@shonrp2</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsNO?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsNO</a> on ESPN<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/vO18DNaTaF">https://t.co/vO18DNaTaF</a> <a href="https://t.co/c6J4xU0LTp">pic.twitter.com/c6J4xU0LTp</a>
But the Dolphins defense more than made up for the offense's mistakes. Miami did a great job of getting the Saints off the field, forcing the Saints to go 0-for-12 on third down, the team's first time failing to convert on third down under head coach Sean Payton. Brandon Jones sealed the game with an interception.
Miami Dolphins @MiamiDolphins
DEFENSE COMES UP BIG! <a href="https://twitter.com/BlessedJones33?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BlessedJones33</a> with the INT! 🙌<br><br>📺: Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsNO?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsNO</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNNFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ESPNNFL</a> <a href="https://t.co/VJqe1fGaK7">pic.twitter.com/VJqe1fGaK7</a>
Miami finished with eight sacks, its third time in the last four games with at least five sacks. It's the fifth time during this win streak that the Dolphins have held an opponent to 10 points or less.
Miami's defense is blossoming into one of the most stout units in the NFL. If the Dolphins can continue to shut down opposing offenses, it wouldn't be a surprise to see their winning streak continue and culminate in a playoff berth.
Saints Stumble with Short-handed Squad
New Orleans knew Monday's game would be tough with such a depleted roster. The Saints showed a ton of fight throughout the game, especially on defense. But missing so many key pieces was too much to overcome.
New faces on the field have been an unfortunate theme throughout the season for the Saints.
Cameron Jordan was one of the few bright spots for New Orleans. After earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, he remained a model of consistency and followed up with two sacks on Monday.
New Orleans Saints @Saints
SACKED! 🙌<br><br>The NFC Defensive Player of the Week <a href="https://twitter.com/camjordan94?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CamJordan94</a> coming in hot 🔥<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPMOYChallenge?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WPMOYChallenge</a> | 📺: ESPN (WDSU locally) <a href="https://t.co/NvbvuM7On9">pic.twitter.com/NvbvuM7On9</a>
The Saints entered the game with the fifth-ranked rush defense in the league, with an average of 96.6 yards allowed on the ground. On Monday, they held Miami to 86 yards on the ground.
But the New Orleans offense couldn't get anything going, understandably so, with a rookie quarterback making his first career start. Book was under siege throughout the night as Miami overwhelmed him with constant pressure.
New Orleans has to hope to return to full strength for the final two games of the season. The Saints are fighting for a playoff spot in the NFC, but Monday's loss was a major setback.
The Dolphins will go for their eighth straight win on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. The Saints will look to bounce back that same day in a division matchup vs. the Carolina Panthers.