NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 11 PFF ReFocused: Denver Broncos 20, Miami Dolphins 13

Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) looks to pass in the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Flores hoped for some Fitzmagic in the fourth quarter after sending Tua Tagovailoa to the bench, but it was all for naught as the veteran QB's bid to tie the game fell short and the Denver Broncos held on for a 20-13 win over the Miami Dolphins. Justin Simmons intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone to halt Miami’s five-game winning streak. 

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story of the Game

Vic Fangio and the Broncos defense made an absolute mess of the Dolphins offensive game plan from start to finish. Drew Lock handed the ball off most of the afternoon to the duo of Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon III, who combined for 166 yards rushing and two scores.

The Miami offense looked like it had no answers for the Broncos' pass-rush through the first two quarters, with Tagovailoa facing pressure on 44.4% of his dropbacks. Bradley Chubb generated seven of Denver's 23 total pressures, and none of his teammates surrendered more than 50 yards in coverage.

Nov 22, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Empower Field at Mile High. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Both offenses looked putrid throughout the game, averaging a negative EPA per play. Fortunately, the Broncos’ success running the football opened up opportunities for Lock to be dynamic and complete eight passes for 15 yards or more. Tim Patrick had himself a day, racking up 119 yards on five receptions. 

Fitzpatrick finished 12-for-18 for 117 yards with an interception, and he will most likely grade higher than Tagovailoa. He committed three turnover-worthy-plays, but considering when he entered the game, those risks needed to be taken. 

The Miami defense needs to figure out how to manufacture an effective pass-rush to help defenders outside of Byron Jones in coverage. Xavien Howard will grade well only because he pulled down his sixth interception of the season, but  Lock picked on him the most with nine targets for four completions and 92 yards. 

Rookie Watch

For the Dolphins, Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley and Robert Hunt combined to surrender six pressures in pass-protection as part of an offensive line that allowed Tagovailoa to be sacked six times. Defensive tackle Raekwon Davis had a breakout performance last week against the Chargers and played 48 of 63 snaps today. 

Broncos receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler combined for seven receptions and 72 yards, playing smaller roles than usual because of Denver’s commitment to running the football. 

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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