Skip to main content

Dolphins' Mike McDaniel: Collapse vs. Titans 'humbling' but will be 'very galvanizing' for stretch run

The Tennessee Titans' epic late-game comeback doesn't happen without aid from an opponent. 

The Miami Dolphins handed Tennessee every opportunity to steal the contest on Monday night. From early red zone miscues -- including a Tua Tagovailoa fumble -- to the defense getting picked apart by rookie Will Levis late to the offense failing to get first downs to ice the contest, the 28-27 loss was a group failure.

"We all get to share the blame," Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said after the game, via the team's official transcript. 

Miami was gifted two fourth-quarter Titans turnovers to take a 27-13 lead with under 5:00 remaining but gave up two quick touchdowns, and the offense died on the vine to set up the defeat.

"I think it was a legitimate team loss," McDaniel said. "I think everybody had their hand in it. I don't think it was intentional. I don't think people went through the motions during the week. It was a really, really good week of practice, I thought. But you had a lot of yards given up in a short amount of time. You had a shorter field position, and you had an offense that went three-and-out. That's literally the only way that that could happen."

The Dolphins offense struggled for the bulk of the time Tyreek Hill missed due to an ankle injury. The star wideout's return jumpstarted the operation slightly, but Tagovailoa never seemed in rhythm, finishing 23-of-33 passing for 240 yards with zero TDs and zero INTs, his first game of 2023 without a touchdown pass.

"I think what they wanted game plan-wise was to put a shell over our team, forcing us to run the ball, forcing us to beat them that way," the QB told reporters. "But when you have someone like Tyreek go down, it does make it tough, but when you also have a couple of your key O-linemen go down, as well, it does hurt the guys up front and sort of the way we operate."

Hill's value to the operation was underscored after the wideout exited in the first quarter and didn't return until midway through the third. 
"It was a lot of pain, man," Hill said of the injury. "It sucked. When it actually happened, I've obviously been dealing with some ankle injuries this whole season, and when it happened, like my first reaction was like, man, my ankle is gone. My adrenaline kicked in, I ran off the field, then I sat for a while and it got stiff and I was going through a lot of pain. Then I just made up in my mind, I came in at halftime, I texted my wife, I was like, 'this (expletive) hurt.' I need an ankle massage tonight, and she's like, 'you'd better get your ass back in that game, dawg.' I was like, 'all right.' So I just made up my mind that it's going to hurt. It's going to suck. Tonight and tomorrow morning. I just went back in the game on my own, without anybody saying 'Reek, go.' It was like, no, (expletive) this, I've got to get out there and bring some energy and be that spark."

The spark was brief and flamed out late in the fourth quarter.

Miami botched a chance to overtake Baltimore for the AFC's No. 1 slot, and the loss opens the door for the Buffalo Bills potentially to steal the division in Week 18. The Dolphins face the New York Jets on Sunday on a short week before playing the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills to close a tough slate.

The key for McDaniel is not allowing Monday's loss to snowball.

"Collectively I think the guys will rise to the occasion," he said. "I think you have to because it's a humbling game, and you think that you're a good football team, but then each and every week you have to prove that on the field and you can't take anything for granted. Right now it feels terrible, but that's everything that we'll be trying to do moving forward because these types of losses can be very galvanizing, but it takes literally every person in the locker room and coaching staff, and you have to – as long as guys aren't pointing fingers, which I feel like there's a lot of people looking internally, you have that chance, and that's what we'll be spending our time doing."

Related Content