What a great week. The Miami Dolphins dispatched the Oakland Raiders 35-13 on Sunday night, looking strong in the second half, with the defense, offense, and special teams all starting to click. With the sweet joy of a commanding victory still in the minds and hearts of Miami fans, we also get to look forward to New York Jets week.
Against the Raiders, the Dolphins were able to use the defense to suffocate the Oakland attack. Whenever the Raiders would begin moving the ball, the Miami defense would double down, leading to nine Oakland punts. The Dolphins only gave up one third down conversion in 12 tries by Oakland. While there is still more needed, specifically a pass rush resulting in sacks, not just quarterback hurries or hits, the defense proved to be closer to what they were at the start of the Houston Texans game than what they were by the end of it.
The Miami special teams coverage was great throughout the game. Not only did punter Brandon Fields pin the Raiders insider their 20-yard line four times on six punts, with another punt, and pin, from Dan Carpenter, but Fields averaged 53.2 yards per punt. On the return side of the game, Marcus Thigpen returned five punts for Miami, with a 14.8 yards per return average (Davone Bess added one 11 yard return as well).
However, what may be the most celebration worthy this week was the Miami offense. Whether it was the rushing attack, led by Reggie Bush, or rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill throwing the ball, the Dolphins clicked, at least for one week. Bush ran wild on the Raiders, gaining 172 yards on 26 carries (6.6 yards per carry average) and two touchdowns. Not to be outdone, rookie running back Lamar Miller, in his NFL debut after being inactive in Week 1, ran for 65 yards on 10 carries (6.5 yards per carry) with one touchdown.
The Dolphins passing game, the biggest question mark heading into the season for Miami, came alive as well. Miami rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw with conviction throughout the game, teaming up with wide receiver Brian Hartline for half of Tannehill's 18 completions on 30 attempts. Tannehill finished the game with 200 yards passing with a touchdown, as well as 14 yards rushing, with a two yard touchdown run.
Hartline, who missed all of the preseason with a calf injury, came out and took charge of the Dolphins receiving corps, with his career high, and game high, 9 receptions and 111 yards. Davone Bess caught three passes for 43 yards, while Bush added three grabs and 25 yards. Tight end Anthony Fasano was on the receiving end of two passes from Tannehill, including a 14 yard touchdown catch - Tannehill's first career touchdown pass.
Maybe even a better reason to celebrate this week is actually what happens next week. The Dolphins come off a win, showing what they could be on offense, heading into a matchup with their hated division rivals, the Jets. Not only do fans get to celebrate what the team did on Sunday, Miami fans can use last week to dream about what the team could do to the Jets in Sun Life Stadium this week.
Of course, all of the celebrations have to be kept in check, to some degree. It was on win in one week. The Dolphins are still weak at receiver and have a rookie quarterback, and not every game is going to come together like the second half did on Sunday. But, at least for this week, there's a lot to celebrate as a Dolphins fan.