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Instant analysis: Redskins fade in second half, Dolphins rally for 17-10 win

The Redskins started strong behind Alfred Morris, but special teams and other issues from the past ruined the day.

LANDOVER -- The Washington Redskins were poised for a season opening victory. That is until they reverted back to various bad habits over the final 32 minutes. 

The Miami Dolphins rallied from a 10-point deficit and Jarvis Landry's 69-yard punt return touchdown with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter put the AFC East contenders ahead for good as the Redskins fell 17-10 on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. 

Making his first-ever Week 1 start, Kirk Cousins finished 21 of 31 for 196 yards with one touchdown pass. He also threw two interceptions in the second half, including one on third-and-long with the Redskins in field goal range. Washington did not score after Jordan Reed's short touchdown catch deep into the second quarter.

The Redskins defensive line, led by Jason Hatcher, shutdown the Dolphins running game in the first half. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill picked up the slack, finishing 22 of 34 for 226 yards with one touchdown pass. 

Alfred Morris rushed 25 times for 121 yards.

What happened

With a blend of effecient offense and stout defense, the Redskins largely controlled the first half and led 10-0 following Jordan Reed's touchdown reception with 1:54 remaining. Miami closed the half with a Tannehill touchdown pass. Whether that score truly shifted momentum, the game looked different in the second half and yet all too familiar. Penalties, dropped passes and special teams woes played a factor. Landry, Miami's top wide receiver, and tight end Jordan Cameron repeatedly found room against Washington's pass defense. 

Key stats

  • Penalties became unwanted visitors in the second half. Washington faced 2nd-and-four at the Miami 22-yard line in the third quarter. Three straight penalties - delay of game, pass interference, holding -  knocked them back to the the 47.
  • Both sides of the ball had a bad case of the drops. Andre Roberts, filling in for the injured DeSean Jackson, dropped two passes in the second half, continuing an unwanted trend from last season. Cornerback Chris Culliver and linebacker Keenan Robinson each dropped potental interceptions. 
  • The Redskins largely stuck with a run-heavy, quick pass game plan to offset Miami's defensive front-7. That worked early as Morris gained 82 yards on 17 carries in the first half, but he only received eight carries after halftime.

Bumps and bruises

The injuries piled up in the first half, starting with wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who exited with a hamstring injury in hs first game action since suffering a sprained shoulder early in training camp. Jackson left in the first quarter and was ruled out, taking out the Redskins' lone proven deep threat.

Strong safety Duke Ihenacho also left for good in the first half with a left wrist injury. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall went to the sideline with a rib injury during Miami's final drive of the first half, but he returned to start the second half.

Right tackle Morgan Moses (eye) took a seat during the third quarter. His injury occurred during a one-on-one battle with Dolphns Pro Bowl DT Ndamukong Suh.

Cornerback Justin Rogers left in the second half with a foot injury and did not return.

Backed into a corner

The Redskins opened the game with three cornerbacks on the field: Chris Culliver, Hall and Justin Rogers. In other words, not David Amerson. That changed when Hall left the field with 1:42 left in the second quarter -- and Miami took advantage. Tannehill dropped back to throw on the next eight plays: 11 yards, sack, incomplete, 12, incomplete, 13, incomplete before capping the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews.

Every single one of those passes were at Amerson. The third-year corner labored during training camp, to the point that Rogers apparently jumped him on the CB depth chart. He'll drop another spot when Bashaud Breeland (suspension) returns next week and possibly all the way to the inactive list consdering the Redskins will have 10 defensive backs at that point. 

Reed and react

The primary critique for tight end Jordan Reed involves durability, not talent. On the field for the opener, Reed once again showed he can be a difference maker. He finished with a team-high seven receptions for 63 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown off a perfectly throw fade route from Cousins. 

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