Teams combine for 9 turnovers; Dolphins defeat Texans 17-9
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By TIM REYNOLDS
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) There was celebratory music coming from the Miami Dolphins locker room on Sunday afternoon, the first time that's happened this season.
The game was ugly. For the Dolphins, the result wasn't.
In the NFL's most turnover-filled game in more than five seasons, the Dolphins got 244 yards passing and a touchdown throw from surprise starter Jacoby Brissett on the way to beating the Houston Texans 17-9 on Sunday.
"We definitely needed one," Brissett said.
The game between two teams that entered with 1-7 records and both on seven-game losing streaks lived up - or down - to its billing. The Dolphins and Texans combined for nine turnovers. Miami had five, Houston four, and somehow the Dolphins (2-7) won anyway.
"It's good to get a win," Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. "Always good to get a win."
And then he paused, nearly letting his almost-always-stoic face break into the slightest of smiles before conceding, yet again, "it's good to get a win."
It was Miami's first win while committing at least five turnovers since Oct. 18, 1990. The Dolphins had been 0-21 in such games since. And it was the most turnovers in an NFL game since the New York Jets and Kansas City also combined for nine on Sept. 25, 2016.
Houston (1-8) has now dropped eight straight. The Texans became the 12th team in NFL history to start 1-0 and lose their next eight games - a fate that the Dolphins avoided by winning.
Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor returned after missing most of the season with a hamstring injury and was far from sharp. Taylor completed 24 of 43 passes for 240 yards, with three interceptions.
It added up to a miserable 42.8 rating, after he entered the game with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in 167 previous throws against the Dolphins.
"Usually when you get five turnovers from your defense, you expect to win," Texans coach David Culley said. "But not when you have four from your offense."
Brissett filled in again for Tua Tagovailoa, who missed the game with a finger injury on his throwing hand. Tagovailoa had been limited in practice during the week, though Flores said Friday he was optimistic that the second-year QB would be able to play.
"We just felt like we were better off going with Jacoby," Flores said.
Ka'imi Fairbairn had three field goals for Houston.
Jaylen Waddle caught eight passes for 83 yards for Miami, which got a touchdown run from Myles Gaskin and a scoring catch from Mack Hollins.
Tagovailoa was active as Miami's emergency quarterback, but wound up missing basically his fifth game of the season. Brissett has started four games and played all but two series of Miami's Week 2 matchup against Buffalo when Tagovailoa left with fractured ribs.
Gaskin took a direct snap 6 yards for the game's opening touchdown, putting Miami up 7-0 with 4:41 left in the opening quarter.
The Dolphins had managed a total of 10 points in 119 first-half minutes at home this season before a flurry at the end of the second quarter doubled that total - and sent them into the break with a 17-6 lead.
Jason Sanders' 42-yard field goal with 1:12 remaining put the Dolphins up 10-6, and then Taylor gave Miami a short field with a careless interception. He was scrambling to his left, got near the Houston sideline and apparently thought he was tossing the ball away.
Instead, he wound up flipping the ball to Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker, who just happened to be on the same sideline. He got two tippy-toed feet down like a receiver as the ball came his way, and Miami was in business again at the Houston 26.
"Our job on offense is to protect the football," Culley said. "Our job from our quarterback is to protect the football, and we didn't do that today. When you do that, you get these results. ... Our entire football team deserved better."
Said Taylor: "It's uncharacteristic of me, but it happened today."
It took four plays for Brissett to cash in that gift, finding a sliding Hollins with a 5-yard scoring throw and Miami's biggest halftime lead at home in just over a year - since a 28-10 edge at the break over the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 1, 2020.
And despite the miscue-fest continuing, the Dolphins found a way to, finally, let postgame music play.
"A ton. It means a ton, especially when we didn't play our best football," tight end Mike Gesicki said. "There's still a lot to correct ... but there's finally something positive."
Texans: RB Scottie Phillips (leg) left in the first half and did not return.
Dolphins: C Greg Mancz (ankle) was lost in the first quarter, then was downgraded to out at halftime. Durham Smythe also missed time with an eye injury.
Mindful of the tragedy in Houston, where eight people died in a crush of fans at a music festival Friday night during a performance by rapper Travis Scott, several members of the Texans expressed condolences for the city and those grieving. "I know something bigger than football happened back in our Houston community this past Friday ... just wanted to let the city of Houston know that our organization, our team, our prayers are definitely with you all," Taylor said.
Texans: Off next week, then visit Tennessee on Nov. 21.
Dolphins: Host Baltimore on Thursday night. It'll be Miami's first Thursday home game since 2014.
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Updated November 7, 2021