Dolphins 38 - Patriots 13
I don't think it would be possible for me to type that score too much over the next 2 weeks.
And on September 23, what do the Dolphins have in common with the Colts, Chargers, and Jaguars (all teams who were "expected" to be among the top teams in the NFL)? They all have the same record. Who would have thought?
Now let's talk a little bit more about Sunday's big win up in Foxborough.
AN IMPRESSIVE DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
We talked a lot yesterday about the performance put forth by this offense and, in particular, Ronnie Brown. But I think that one thing that was overshadowed a bit was the terrific performance by this Dolphins defense.
And sure, they weren't the "Tom Brady Patriots." But even still, the Dolphins found ways to contain Randy Moss and avoid giving up the big play. And I think a lot of that has to do with the return of Renaldo Hill to Miami's starting lineup.
Hill was really the "QB of the secondary." He's the guy who makes sure everybody is in the right spot and he's the guy who will make the coverage audibles at the line of scrimmage, if necessary. So it's probably not a coincidence that the secondary looked much more cohesive out there on Sunday than they previously had looked. And Tony Sparano agreed, stating that "the communication was a lot cleaner out there."
Interestingly enough, the Dolphins actually won the coin toss on Sunday and elected to defer until the 2nd half. They wanted the defense so get onto the field and set the tone. Says Yeremiah Bell about that decision:
"We wanted the defense out there first, to get some confidence and start the game on the right note. The first two games, we gave up plays we shouldn't give up. If they were going to beat us, we were going to make them beat us."
A bit of a risk? Sure. But it paid off, as the Patriots went three and out on their first possession.
But I don't think enough was made of how the Dolphins stepped up on New England's second possession. The Dolphins, too, went three and out on their first possession. The Pats them marched down the field, only having to convert one 3rd down to get inside Miami's 10 yard line.
But that's when this defense stood its ground. Joey Porter picked up his first sack of the game. That was followed by Phillip Merling's first sack of his career (though it was a little bit of a "gift" from the referee who blew the play dead). And then the most overlooked play of the game occured when Randy Starks intercepted Matt Cassel on a pass he probably should have never thrown.
It was that interception which prevented the Dolphins from falling behind early and gave Miami the momentum. On the ensuing drive, the "Wildcat" would makes its debut, Ronnie would go in for the TD, and the rest would be history. A huge turn of events thanks to a defense that made plays inside their own 10 yard line.
And, quickly, I can't forget to mention the solid run defense by the Fins, holding Patriot running backs to just 55 yards on 16 carries (3.4 ypc).
So let's hear it for the defense - which is now in the middle 3rd of the league in total defense and 11th in the league in rush defense. Oh, and how's this for improvement? Last season, the Dolphins were ranked 29th in yards-per-carry allowed. This season? Miami is ranked 5th in the league, allowing just 3.3 yards-per-carry.
Not too shabby.