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Week 15 Game Recap: Miami Dolphins 20, New York Giants 36


What you need to know

Miami Dolphins

In a battle of top of the draft order seeding, Miami finally righted the ship and lost to the 2-11 Giants. This was a very winnable game, but it looks like the Dolphins finally remembered this was a lost season and that every win moves them further away from the top of the order. Miami got another solid effort from Ryan Fitzpatrick with the only blemish being a fumble lost on a big hit he took rushing the ball. The defense appeared to step up on the stat sheet with 3 interceptions of Eli Manning but only managed a single sack. Where they struggled was containing Saquon Barkley who had over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. The defense allowed 138 yards and 3 touchdowns to the Giants on the ground. DeVante Parker returned from a concussion and picked up right where he left off with another 2-touchdown game. Fitzpatrick completed passes to 8 different receivers and has made the best of his situation with the Dolphins either trading or having several key players injured. Miami will take on a Bengals team that is sitting right in front of them in the draft order and then close the season against the Patriots. They are a near lock for a top 3 pick depending on what happens with Washington and New York the rest of the season.

New York Giants

1. Picking the right Giants wide receiver to start is difficult and the leading receiver seems to change every week. Manning seems to favor Shepard as a possession receiver but recognizing Slayton as a big play threat.

2. Barkley and the Giants looked dominant on the ground on Sunday, probably due to the run/pass balance they were showing on offense to keep the defense guessing.

3. Despite Manning's turnovers, he is the slightly stronger play for the Giants as opposed to Jones and his willingness to push the ball downfield has been invaluable over his last two games.

Miami Dolphins

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 41 - 279 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 33 - 0
The only thing Fitzpatrick did not do this week was come away with the win and that is best case for this team right now. They were coming dangerously close to dropping in the draft order and ruining everything they have been trying to setup this season. Fitzpatrick has looked good enough to get another shot and help mentor whatever young quarterback they take in the draft and he has built rapport with the likes of Parker and Gesicki in this offense. Fitzpatrick kicked off the scoring in the second quarter with a touchdown to Parker. It capped a 9 play 94-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown. Parker ran a simple go route up the seam and Fitzpatrick threaded the needle between 2 defenders for the score. That drive also featured a 21-yard catch and run dump off to Albert Wilson to set the Dolphins up in great position for the score. His second touchdown also went to Parker. But the game was already out of hand at this point. A 20-yard pass to Gesicki helped jump start the drive and it was capped off with a 29-yard strike to Parker. This time it was a deep shot down the left sideline with Parker fighting for position on his corner. Parker made the leaping grab in the front corner of the end zone and continued his breakout season. Fitzpatrick played clean football for the most part outside of a fumble in the 3rd quarter. He had scrambled for 5 yards before a hard hit to the back popped the ball loose. The Miami defense created a turnover of their own 3 plays later and the Dolphins were able to pull the score to 13-14. This was the closest they would get with Saquon Barkley taking over and the offense failing to move the ball until their final drive. Fitzpatrick gets a great matchup next week against the Bengals before being sacrificed to the Patriots defense in week 17.

RB Patrick Laird, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 46 - 0, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (5 targets)
It is hard for any running back to succeed in this offense. The line does not open many big holes and opposing defenses do not respect anyone in the passing game outside of DeVante Parker. Laird got his chance this week to be the lead back and put up some disappointing numbers. He led the team in rushing attempts and yards but averaged just 3.8 yards per carry. Most of his value was to come from catching the ball out of the back field but he only managed to make 2 receptions on 5 targets. He just did not seem to be on the same page as Fitzpatrick and there was no rhythm in the Dolphins offense. Laird suffered an embarrassing tackle for loss and a safety in the 3rd quarter and just could not get any blocking in front of him all day. He was a fun sleeper pick coming into this week, but it is just too hard for any running back to get something going in that offense right now.

WR Albert Wilson, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 59 - 0 (8 targets)
At some point someone else is going to have to start making plays in this offense. Wilson was the second leading receiver behind Parker this week and tied for the team lead in targets. His best play was a 21-yard catch and run on a dump off by Fitzpatrick that helped setup the first Parker touchdown. Wilson lost some reps to Isaiah Ford last week but played as the true number 2 receiver this week. With Jakeem Grant still injured, Wilson has a big chance to step up and show that he has a future with this team and expand his role. The Dolphins should continue to rotate through their depth at receiver and see what they have for the future, but Wilson seems to be safe going into next season.

WR DeVante Parker, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 72 - 2 (7 targets)
Parker is the only player in this offense doing anything right now outside of Fitzpatrick. The line cannot block for any of the running backs and the rest of the receivers seem to get lost in the defense. Parker made his way through concussion protocol this week and came back just in time for this game. He caught 4 of his 7 targets and benefitted from Fitzpatrick taking shots down the field. His first touchdown capped off a 9 play 94-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown. Parker ran a simple go route and Fitzpatrick found him open in the seam between 2 defenders. The ball was thrown perfectly and hit Parker in stride in the end zone. His second touchdown came when the game was already out of hand and was a deep shot down the left sideline. Parker ran a simple go route again and was able to fight for inside position against his corner. He used his big body to box out the defender and made a leaping catch in the end zone. Parker has been the only real threat in this offense this season and continues to make plays with the defense rolling coverage his way.

WR Allen Hurns, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets)
This is the best chance Hurns has had to stick with a team in his career. He did not have an injury designation coming into the game after dealing with knee and ankle issues, but he ended up laying an egg this week. He caught his only target for 9 yards and could not find any room against a defense that just released one of its better corners. Hurns is looking more like Kenny Stills from a year ago and could find himself on the way out of Miami in the off season.

TE Mike Gesicki, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 47 - 0 (8 targets)
It was another slow week for anyone not named DeVante Parker and that included Gesicki. He has quickly turned into Fitzpatrick’s second favorite target and tied for the team lead this week. He caught 4 of his 8 targets including a long 24-yard strike to setup the late touchdown to Parker. Miami has not found a way to utilize him in the red zone yet and continues to attack the seams and boundaries with him. They like his big and athletic frame but need to find better ways to get him involved in the offense. Miami seems content moving forward with Gesicki as their tight end of the future, but they will expect a lot more progress next season.


New York Giants

QB Eli Manning, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 28 - 283 - 2 TD / 3 INT
Eli Manning was competent and dangerous on Sunday against Miami, though his three interceptions certainly drag down his performance a bit. He was very patient in the pocket, had good pass protection and picked apart Miami when given time. On several occasions, Manning could really take his time and allow his receivers to unravel. He was looking downfield a lot in this game and made several big throws that changed field position quickly. Manning hit tight end Smith with a well placed ball on a seam route and didn't stop there. He found Tate on another seam route deep. Tate managed to tip the ball to himself, avoided the safety who had taken a poor tackle angle and ran free into the endzone for a big touchdown. Unfortunately Manning displayed terrible accuracy and decision making throwing a ball right to a Miami defender who easily picked it off on a curl route. He was picked off again as time was expiring in the first half, simply heaving a 'Hail Mary' pass deep. Manning shook this off and took advantage of some decent time in the pocket by hitting Slayton who was wide open on a deep out after play action. He was allowed to survey the endzone later on and connected with Slayton in the back of the endzone who had escaped coverage over time. Manning's final pick came on another woeful decision to heave the ball over the middle in an effort to escape pressure but this ball was easily intercepted. He almost had a third touchdown as he threw a perfect pass deep to Shepard on a corner route but his receiver just could not stretch out the ball over the goal line in time and it was out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Save for the turnovers, Manning played at a high level and gave the Giants an excellent opportunity to win the game.

RB Saquon Barkley, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 112 - 2, Rec: 4 - 31 - 0 (5 targets)
Eli Manning was competent and dangerous on Sunday against Miami, though his three interceptions certainly drag down his performance a bit. He was very patient in the pocket, had good pass protection and picked apart Miami when given time. On several occasions, Manning could really take his time and allow his receivers to unravel. He was looking downfield a lot in this game and made several big throws that changed field position quickly. Manning hit tight end Smith with a well placed ball on a seam route and didn't stop there. He found Tate on another seam route deep. Tate managed to tip the ball to himself, avoided the safety who had taken a poor tackle angle and ran free into the endzone for a big touchdown. Unfortunately Manning displayed terrible accuracy and decision making throwing a ball right to a Miami defender who easily picked it off on a curl route. He was picked off again as time was expiring in the first half, simply heaving a 'Hail Mary' pass deep. Manning shook this off and took advantage of some decent time in the pocket by hitting Slayton who was wide open on a deep out after play action. He was allowed to survey the endzone later on and connected with Slayton in the back of the endzone who had escaped coverage over time. Manning's final pick came on another woeful decision to heave the ball over the middle in an effort to escape pressure but this ball was easily intercepted. He almost had a third touchdown as he threw a perfect pass deep to Shepard on a corner route but his receiver just could not stretch out the ball over the goal line in time and it was out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Save for the turnovers, Manning played at a high level and gave the Giants an excellent opportunity to win the game.

WR Sterling Shepard, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 111 - 0 (11 targets)
Sterling Shepard dropped a sure pass over the middle at the start of this game but shook it off as he was the most targeted player for Manning against Miami. He snagged a tight ball on a deep comeback route but this was erased due to offensive pass interference. Shepard was featured player in this game for Manning and the duo connected all over the field. He was key in securing first downs but also occasionally hauled in bigger plays downfield, showing his versatility as a play maker. The Giants used play action often to get Shepard open and this worked to great success. He was escaping coverage often and used his agility to maintain the separation from the nearest Miami defender. Shepard showed good chemistry with Manning on extended plays where the pass rush failed to show up. This allowed Shepard to separate over time and gave Manning big windows to throw into down the field. Shepard was unfortunate not to score on a deep corner route towards the goal line. He hauled in a terrific ball but did not have enough time to put the football in his other hand which possibly would have allowed him to extend it over the line for a score. Regardless, Shepard was a constant threat to the Dolphins secondary and kept the Giants moving downfield throughout the game. His talent and chemistry with Manning was clearly a massive factor in his success.

WR Darius Slayton, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 31 - 1 (3 targets)
Darius Slayton was the odd man out on Sunday for the Giants, as other receivers were targeted more in this offense. Slayton still managed to score and somewhat rescued fantasy owners who started him. Manning had all day in the pocket in the redzone and this allowed Slayton to unravel from his defender and haul in a pass in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown. Slayton should have had a big catch along the sideline in the first half but he mishandled the ball, though a flag was also thrown for defensive pass interference along with the drop. The Giants ran the football a lot in this game and Shepard seemed to be the focal point, leaving Slayton somewhat on the outside for this game.

WR Golden Tate, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 51 - 1 (4 targets)
Golden Tate managed only one grab on Sunday but he made it count as it went for a touchdown. Tate was targeted on a seam route up the field, he tipped it to himself and secured the ball. The Miami defensive back took a terrible angle to make the tackle and this allowed Tate to escape untouched into the endzone for the score. Manning tried to find Tate deep along the sideline later but the pass was out of bounds. Tate didn't get many more looks from Manning as Shepard was the main man on this day.