The Dolphins played 11-on-18 for much of the first half Thursday night.
The officials proved harder to beat than even the Texans.
Two no-calls particularly incensed Dolphins fans watching at home — and will surely do the same to Miami’s coaches when they watch the film.
The first mistake was a clear trip by a Texans player that brought Jakeem Grant to the ground on a return.
The other basically gift-wrapped a Houston touchdown.
Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler air-mailed Danny Amendola deep in Miami’s end, and Justin Reid picked off the wayward pass.
But there’s a reason why the pass was so inaccurate: Amendola got knocked off his route and held by Texans safety Mike Tyson, an infraction which was not called.
Two plays later, the Texans were in the end zone and had their first lead of the day.
Injuries did something Thursday that President Donald Trump could not:
They ensured no Dolphins would kneel during the playing of the national anthem.
With Albert Wilson out for the season and Kenny Stills inactive with a groin injury, every Dolphins player, coach and staff stood during the national anthem.
It ended a streak of 22 consecutive regular-season games in which at least one Dolphins player knelt to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
Stills began kneeling in 2016, did not in the Dolphins’ 2017 opener but then resumed the following week after Trump called out those who did.
Wilson signed with the Dolphins this offseason and joined Stills in kneeling every game. But Wilson will not play again in 2018 after injuring his hip on Sunday.
One Dolphins player did protest during the anthem: Robert Quinn has raised his fist each week, and did so again Thursday.
Perhaps the best way for a right tackle to neutralize Texans wrecking ball J.J. Watt is to run the wrong play.
It’s how Ja’Wuan James helped spring Kenyan Drake for Miami’s first-quarter touchdown.
James, who got beat for a sack on the game’s first possession, was one-on-one with Watt as the Dolphins faced first-and-10 from the Houston 12. The Dolphins called a run play off right tackle to Drake. James block as if he were in pass protection.
Still, Drake got around Watt — and the rest of the Texans’ defense — for his second rushing touchdown in as many weeks.
Odds and ends
▪ The Dolphins simultaneously found a replacement for Wilson in the Wildcat and a way to get a third running back on the field.
Kalen Ballage, a rookie out of Arizona State, lined up in the shotgun behind center in the first quarter Thursday. He picked up a first down with a 5-yard run on a drive that ended in a Dolphins touchdown.
Ballage, who ran the Wildcat 70 times in his final two seasons with the Sun Devils, has been active for four of the last five games, and both since Kenyan Drake fumbled at the goal line against the Bears.
▪ The following Dolphins were inactive for Thursday’s game: Stills, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, cornerback Torry McTyer, defensive end Cameron Malveaux, tackle Sam Young, tight end A.J. Derby and defensive end Charles Harris.
Derby missed yet another game with a foot injury that has beguiled him for some time. Stills, Tannehill and Harris were all expected scratches. A bit of surprise: cornerback Cordrea Tankersley played and McTyer did not. Grant started for Stills and Mike Gesicki, who had been dealing with a shoulder issue, started for Derby.
▪ Adam Gase does not have much confidence in his short-yardage running game. Facing fourth-and-inches in Texans territory, he called a play-action pass to Frank Gore instead of having Osweiler or Gore fall forward for the first down. The pass fell incomplete, prompting Tony Dungy of all people to take a shot at Gase’s play-call on Twitter.
The Hall of Fame coach wrote: “Dolphins. Really. Can you not hand the ball to Frank Gore and make 6 inches?????!”
▪ Defensive tackle Vincent Taylor was carted off the field with a foot injury in the first half.