Dolphins at Broncos final score: Denver clings to victory after Ryan Fitzpatrick replaces Tua Tagovailoa

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Getty's Matthew Stockman

The Denver Broncos found themselves in the middle of a defensive battle in Week 11's game against the Miami Dolphins but were ultimately able to hold on for a 20-13 victory. The outcome brings a five-game Miami winning streak to a halt. The Dolphins benched Tua Tagovailoa in the second half in favor of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. The rookie did not return, with Ryan Fitzpatrick coming close to rallying his team back to tie the game late but falling just short by throwing an end-zone pick to virtually seal the loss.

Miami finished with 223 yards of total offense after accounting for just 83 yards in the first half. Denver leaned on big plays and a strong rushing attack to mount the upset. 

Why the Broncos won

The defense played sound football and applied a lot of pressure to Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The team accounted for eight quarterback hits and six sacks. It was their ability to keep Miami at arm's length that ultimately led to the victory. Denver mixed together enough big plays and a strong rushing attack to keep drives going. The AFC West franchise averaged 5.7 yards on 33 carries. The outcome was ultimately sealed with an interception by safety Justin Simmons in the end zone. 

Why the Dolphins lost

The Dolphins were unable to do anything on offense.  They turned a Drew Lock interception into a touchdown in the first quarter but that was the extent of their offensive success. Tua Tagovailoa had been dealing with a foot injury in practice all week and never looked comfortable in the pocket against an aggressive Denver defense. After the game, head coach Brian Flores revealed that Tagovailoa had been benched based on performance but will return to the starting lineup next week. 

The ground game was held to 56 yards on 17 carries. 

Play of the game

With 10:08 remaining in the first quarter, Tua Tagovailoa threw a 3-yard fade to wide receiver Devante Parker in the end zone. Parker was able to toe tap one foot and drag the other before falling out of bounds. At the time, it gave Miami an early lead. Parker had three receiving touchdowns coming into the game. 

After the play, Broncos cornerback A.J. Bouye was adamant that Parker did not catch the pass inbounds. He aggressively pointed to marks on the turf to plead his case. Parker and a teammate went to the catch point and made their own sarcastic points to the field. The touchdown stood after a review. 

What's next

Miami's next two games are against the Jets and Bengals. Those two teams have a combined 2-17-1 record (.105 winning percent) this season. Cincinnati also suffered the loss of star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow against Washington. Running back Joe Mixon has already missed an extended period of time. 

Denver's next two games come against New Orleans, without quarterback Drew Brees, and Kansas City. Those are two of the leading Super Bowl contenders. The Broncos were No. 11 in the NFL Draft order prior to Week 11. 

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November 23, 2020, 12:14 AM
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Miami is 2-2 in one score games this season. Denver is 2-3 in such games.

November 22, 2020, 11:57 PM
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November 22, 2020, 11:38 PM
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Miami has opted to play Ryan Fitzpatrick in place of a potentially hobbled Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa had been on the injury report this week with a foot injury. His day ends having completed just 11-of-20 passes for 83 yards and one touchdown.

November 22, 2020, 11:36 PM
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Denver is an even 82-82 in the fourth quarter this season. Miami has outscored their competition 62-55. The Dolphins will need some of that scoring today down ten points.

November 22, 2020, 11:32 PM
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November 22, 2020, 11:27 PM
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Miami has outscored their competition 106-69 in the third quarter this season. Denver has been outscored 34-41.

November 22, 2020, 11:05 PM
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