Blitz-happy Dolphins will try to slow Mahomes, Chiefs
By STEVEN WINE
The Associated Press
MIAMI — The focus is on the matchup between Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa, even though there’s no debating the Kansas City Chiefs have the better quarterback.
The Miami Dolphins might have the superior defense, however, which lends intrigue to Sunday’s game against the reigning Super Bowl champions.
The Dolphins (8-4) have allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL, and wins in seven of the past eight games have vaulted them into contention for their first playoff berth in four years. But they’re stepping up in class against Mahomes and the high-scoring Chiefs (11-1), who have already clinched a postseason spot by winning their past seven games.
“I wish we could have 14 defenders,” Miami coach Brian Flores said.
Sometimes it seems as though the Dolphins do. Flores’ blitz-loving, ball-hawking scheme has produced at least one takeaway in 18 consecutive games, the longest such streak in the NFL, and cornerback Xavien Howard leads the league with eight interceptions.
The question is whether the Dolphins can disrupt the Chiefs, whose eight turnovers are tied for the fewest in the NFL. Mahomes has thrown two interceptions in 463 passes, the league’s lowest rate.
And he tends to burn blitzes.
“We always want to be aggressive. It’s an aggressive game,” Flores said. “So we’ll see how the game unfolds. We’ll have a plan going in. Oftentimes that plan has to be adjusted.”
First-round draft pick Tagovailoa has taken care of the ball as well, throwing no interceptions in going 4-1 as the Dolphins’ starter. They’ve reached 30 points only once in those games, but his ability to minimize mistakes complements Miami’s stout defense.
“He knows how to manage the game and manage the situation,” Mahomes said of the rookie QB from Ewa Beach, Oahu. “That’s something that I wasn’t that good at my first year. That veteran kind of mental mindset that he has, I think it’s truly special at this time in his career.”