The Miami Dolphins entered this Week 4 must-win matchup with the Oakland Raiders with swirling questions. Questions as to who would start at quarterback. Questions about decisions of the coaching staff. But the Dolphins were able to pull out a victory in this pivotal game in London.
Here are a few thoughts and notes on the game:
1. Dolphins should have won this game, and did
The Dolphins were up against a winless team in a pivotal game that could have decided the fate of the season. After a week of controversy in the locker room, Miami came out and allowed an opening drive touchdown to the Raiders.
The Dolphins responded with a promising drive that ended in a field goal, a far-too-familiar sight throughout the two-game losing streak that the team was carrying heading into this game. After that, though, the flood gates opened and Miami put up 38 unanswered points on Oakland.
The Dolphins played an excellent team game and executed wonderfully. As a result a victory was earned.
2. Dolphins offense started fast
The Dolphins were up 24-7 by halftime and essentially had the game won. It was the most points scored by halftime for the Dolphins this season. The offense started with a field goal on their first drive but were able to put up touchdowns on their next two drives.
The offense establishing a firm lead allowed the Dolphins defense to play to it's strengths and unleash the stable of excellent pass rushers.
3. Ryan Tannehill had a great game
After three subpar performances to start the season and a week of fielding questions about whether he would remain the starting quarterback, Tannehill completed 23 of 31 passes for 278 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 109.3 passer rating. Tannehill had a streak of 14 straight passes completed at one point in the game, a streak which ended on a Brandon Gibson drop.
Tannehill was decisive on where to throw the ball and accurate with his passes. Tannehill threw several dimes on the day, but a deep
Matt Moore ended up playing (in garbage time) in an ironic twist of fate.
4. Defense was great and opportunistic
The Dolphins defense, aside from the opening drive of the game, was dominant in a situation where they should have been. The most encouraging thing shown, however, was the amount of big plays that the defense was able to deliver.
The defense was able to stop the run effectively and force the Raiders to be one-dimensional. This forced the Raiders to lean on rookie quarterback Derek Carr, which played right into Miami's hand.
The Dolphins finished the game with four forced turnovers and defensive end Derrick Shelby had two sacks in the game. Jimmy Wilson, Walt Aikens and Brent Grimes all pulled down interceptions (one interception for each game that the Dolphins were shut out from getting one) and Cortland Finnegan scooped up a fumble on a bad snap and took it all the way for six points.
5. Dolphins will feel good heading into the bye
Dolphins were able to respond from an adversity-filled week with an extremely impressive performance in front of an international crowd and are now able to head into the bye week with their heads held high and their season back on track.
There will be "lots of smiles and handshakes" (owner Stephen ross) in Miami's locker room following this pivotal win.
- Miami played excellent team football.
- The Dolphins played with great intensity throughout the game.
- Turns out the late trip to London didn't affect the Dolphins.
- The coaches called a great game, but execution was nearly flawless.
- The offensive line was dominant. The line paved the way for 157 rushing yards and allowed zero sacks.
- In fact, the Dolphins dominated the line of scrimmage on both phases of the ball. The defense allowed only 2.9 yards per rush and sacked the Raiders' quarterbacks twice.
- The Dolphins punted for the first time in the fourth quarter.
- "I know I wasn't playing up to standards the last few weeks, so I wanted to come out and personally play better. My teammates demand that from me and they expect that from me, and to finally come out and do that felt good." - Ryan Tannehill
- "Obviously, we did not play well. We turned the ball over; we did not stop them on defense. We gave up too many explosive plays." - Raiders head coach Dennis Allen