Two of the most exciting teams in the NFL faced off in a rare marquee matchup outside the US, as over 50,000 fans packed out the Deutsche Bank Park to watch the Miami Dolphins take on reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce predictably were fan favourites in Germany, being welcomed with deafening cheers by a home crowd decked out in red and determined to recreate Arrowhead on the Main.
A flying start ensued as the Chiefs scored on the opening drive. Mahomes was back to his best, finding wide receiver Rashee Rice for an 11-yard touchdown, with Kansas City rebounding strongly after their Week 8 defeat to the Denver Broncos.
Following the drive, described by Andy Reid as “a thing of beauty”, the game soon turned into a defensive showdown with seven consecutive punts, as neither side was able to build a rhythm in the passing or ground game.
The Chiefs, however, built momentum towards the end of the second quarter, with a drive that totalled 95 yards and ended with Mahomes throwing his second touchdown pass of the day – this time to Jerick McKinnon.
This left the Dolphins down 14-0 and in need of a score before halftime if they were to have any real chance. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa struggled to utilise his main offensive weapon in former Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill, as the Kansas City secondary did well to limit him to just 62 yards all game.
Despite some decent throws to Jaylen Waddle, Tagovailoa tried to get star man Hill involved once again – this time in an attempt to storm the length of the field for a score. However, after the catch, Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie knocked the ball out and Bryan Cook gladly collected, before taking it to the house to make the score 21-0 going into the break.
Dolphins receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. got Miami on the scoreboard in the second half, scoring their first touchdown of the game. Tagovailoa’s 31-yard floated pass found Wilson Jr. in the endzone to swing momentum Miami’s way.
Bradley Chubb then sacked Mahomes which led to a fumble recovery by Zach Sieler. As a result, the Dolphins got the ball in an ideal starting position on the Kansas City 27. The drive ended with Raheem Mostert taking it in for a 13-yard rushing score – which was his 11th of the season – extending his league-leading tally by two over Christian McCaffrey. With it now a one-score game, Miami looked threatening and overtime a real possibility.
As is fast becoming an NFL tradition in Germany, Country Roads blares out in the Frankfurt Stadium! 🇩🇪 @MiamiDolphins 14-21 @Chiefs #Decyfr #NFLFrankfurtGames | @NFLDeutschland pic.twitter.com/abRMxQRB1a
— Decyfr Sport (@DecyfrSport) November 5, 2023
Having stopped the Chiefs’ offense twice in the fourth quarter, Miami had the opportunity to go level with under three minutes remaining. Mostert got things rolling with two huge running plays for a combined 44 yards to get them up to midfield. But with little time remaining, the Dolphins were forced into throwing the ball and Tagovailoa failed to connect with any of his receivers, leading to a turnover on downs – effectively ending the game.
The German fans were treated to footballing brilliance on both sides of the ball, without really seeing Hill or Kelce affect the game in any way offensively. Kelce ended with just three receptions for 14 yards in a game where the Chiefs were unable to score in the second half or get their main man into the endzone.
Mahomes put up 185 passing yards from 20 completions and two touchdowns, against a stubborn Dolphins defense. His opposite number, Tagovailoa threw for 193 yards from 21 completions with one touchdown pass.
Speaking after the game, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid congratulated defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on his work with the team’s defense.
🗣 “That was a heck of an achievement.”
Andy Reid hailed the impact of Steve Spagnuolo and the @Chiefs’ defense in their win over the Miami Dolphins in Frankfurt yesterday 🇩🇪 #Decyfr #NFLFrankfurtGames | @NFLDeutschland pic.twitter.com/9uUGEqWV7S
— Decyfr Sport (@DecyfrSport) November 6, 2023
“With Miami being the number one offence, and the things that our defense did, that was a tremendous achievement. We’ve got to keep that going – you’re just as good as the next game you play in, but that was a heck of an achievement. Steve Spagnuolo did a great job of scheming it and the players executed very well.”
In the post-game press conference, a visibly upbeat Mahomes appeared to have taken quite well to the German surroundings.
🗣 “Chiefs Kingdom showed up.”
Patrick Mahomes hopes to return to Germany after the @Chiefs’ victory over the Miami Dolphins in Frankfurt yesterday 🇩🇪 #Decyfr #NFLFrankfurtGames | @PatrickMahomes @NFLDeutschland pic.twitter.com/ImgZYUQpi8
— Decyfr Sport (@DecyfrSport) November 6, 2023
“It was an amazing experience to be out here in Germany. You could see red all around the town, Chiefs Kingdom showed up. You can feel the love they had not only for the game of football but also the players and you can tell they watched and knew what they were talking about. I was excited to be here and even more excited leaving and hopefully I get to come back at some point.”
The result now leaves the Chiefs at the top of the AFC with their 7-2 record, with the Baltimore Ravens closely following in second. With the second half of the season now underway, Kansas City are expected to be fighting for that top seed going into the Playoffs in January.
Defeat for the Dolphins sees them slip to 6-3 and sit fourth overall in the AFC, but they still remain atop their division. With a playoff push every bit a possibility, Miami remain on course for a long-awaited Super Bowl run, one full generation in the making.
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