Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has learned to trust in wide receiver DeVante Parker’s ability to make tough catches.
But during their 1-3 start, the Dolphins’ No. 1 receiver has only found the end zone once.
On Sunday, Parker caught 10 passes from Fitzpatrick — more receptions than he has had in a game so far in his six-year NFL career — for 110 yards.
Parker did not score, however, as the Dolphins saw five promising drives stall and settled for field goals, which proved not enough in a 31-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Dolphins had a scare in the first quarter when Parker left the game after three plays with an ankle injury.
After missing Miami’s next two drives, Parker returned and posted his career catch day along with the sixth-highest yardage output in a game of his career.
“DeVante is a great player for us, one that I’m always going to rely on especially in tough situations,” Fitzpatrick said. “And try to get him the ball and rely on him to win one-on-one.”
But Parker never got the chance to do that Sunday near the goal line.
Parker, who was targeted 12 times, was not thrown to once on a play that began in the red zone.
The Seahawks, who entered the game with the NFL’s worst passing defense in terms of yards allowed (1,292) and yards per attempt (8.1), employed a lot of zone coverage on Sunday. Parker found space underneath and turned up the field for solid gains.
The closest Parker got to the end zone was two catch-and-runs that he took to the Seahawks’ 18-yard line.
The first time he caught a short pass over the middle and gained 17 yards on the third play of the second quarter, and the second was when he caught another short pass and picked up 18 yards during the Dolphins’ only touchdown drive with 1:50 left in the game.
Parker was only targeted once during the Dolphins’ longest drive of the game (17 plays, 73 yards, 7:59) that ended with Sanders’ fifth field goal with 8:31 left in the game.
“I thought that was the story of the day, being able to move the ball effectively and not being able to do anything in the red zone,” Fitzpatrick said. “And whether it was a penalty or poor execution or just a bad read by me, it just seemed like every time we got down there, something popped up.”
Parker, who is coming off a career season (72 catches, 1,202 yards, nine touchdowns) has 24 catches for 279 yards, but only one touchdown on a red-zone score in Week 2 against Buffalo.
And Parker, who was forced to leave a game in Week 1 against the Patriots due to a nagging hamstring injury, hasn’t had an easy time so far creating separation from defenders this season. According to NextGen Stats, Parker’s 1.9 yards of separation was fewer than only four other receivers in the league, including teammate Preston Williams coming into Sunday’s game.
“[Parker] did some good things versus zone coverage today, just finding the spot and running after the catch,” Fitzpatrick said. “But he’s a big part of what we do. And it was good to get him back in the game today.”
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