There are a lot of words to describe the Miami Dolphins’ bizarre safety from the first quarter of their 31-28 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
It was unprecedented — no one had ever gotten a safety like that, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.
It was game-changing — the Dolphins were up 14-0 when it happened and it ignited a 25-0 run for the Raiders.
Jacoby Brissett summed it up best, though.
“It was a dumb decision on my part,” the quarterback said.
On first-and-10 from its 1-yard line, Miami didn’t have a lot of good options. Even by those standards, Brissett’s decision to throw a screen to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle in his own end zone was particularly baffling. Brissett dropped back, looked to his left and threw a pass to Waddle in the end zone. By the time Waddle was ready to try to dart up the field, Las Vegas cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. sniffed out the play and dropped the rookie for a safety.
Neither Brissett nor coach Brian Flores was clear about whether Waddle was the first read on the play, but Brissett did have other open receivers on the play, including tight end Adam Shaheen right in front of him for a potential gain of 5 yards or so.
“I’ve got to go back and look at it. We didn’t execute it well. Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job,” Flores said. “It was a bad play for us.”
It was truly unprecedented. The play was the first time a team ever completed a pass and wound up getting a safety without either a fumble or a penalty, at least as far back as Pro-Football-Reference’s records go.
It also contributed to an unprecedented day for Waddle at Allegiant Stadium. The receiver finished with 12 catches for 58 yards — the fewest ever for a nonrunning back with at least 12 catches in a game, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
While it’s impossible to peg all the blame for Miami’s blown lead on one play, it was unquestionably the turning point. The safety cut the Dolphins’ lead to 14-2, and the Raiders used the extra possession and short field to kick a field goal, cutting the lead to 14-5.
“We had some momentum going. It kind of shifted the game a little bit,” Flores said. “Again, one or two plays in the game — we might have a different outcome.”
On Sunday, it was the sort of miscue Miami couldn’t afford. The Dolphins had just 66 passing yards in the first half and all 14 of their points were effectively created by the defense — linebacker Elandon Roberts returned an interception for an touchdown and a fourth-down stop set up Miami inside Las Vegas’ 40-yard line for the other score.
“It just wasn’t a good play,” Brissett said. “I take full responsibility for it. It’s a great learning experience in that situation. That was a tough one. When you look back on plays that would alleviate this feeling that you have right now, it’s definitely one that I want back.”