The Miami Dolphins dominated both sides of the ball on Sunday as they beat the Tennessee Titans 38-10. On offense, the team one again found their running game, giving the ball to Lamar Miller 19 times as he ran for 113 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw 29 times, completing 22 of them, for 266 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, earning him a 97.8 passer rating on the day. The offense looked more comfortable on Sunday than they had at any other point this season. It was the defense, however, that was the story of the game.
Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell last week told TheMMQB's Peter King, "We’re about to wake the sleeping giant." After the game, Campbell in his first post-game speech to the team, immediately came back to that point, stating that the giant is now awake, but that they cannot take a nap. The defense definitely woke up this weekend, and it led the way to victory.
Cameron Wake, the Pro Bowl and All-Pro defensive end who entered the game with just one tackle on the season, dominated his way to a four sack, two forced fumbles, day. He was explosive and he was constantly getting after Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Wake's four sacks was the fourth most sacks in a game in team history, just one sack behind Bill Stanfill (1973) and Vern Den Herder (1973) who each recorded five sacks in a game. Wake's Week 6 performance moved him from not being on the NFL leader board for sacks before the game to 10th overall, 2.5 sacks behind the league lead.
Most sacks for the Dolphins in a single game:
1. Bill Stanfill (1973), Vern Den Herder (1973) - 5.0
3. Cameron Wake (2012) - 4.5
4. Vern Den Herder (1974), Vern Den Herder (1979), Doug Betters (1983), E.J. Junior (1991), Joey Porter (2008), Cameron Wake (2015) - 4.0
Wake was not the only player in on the sack-fest Sunday. Olivier Vernon and Jordan Kovacs each were able to get to the quarterback as well, with Kovacs taking down Zach Mettenberger on the last play of the game.
Reshad Jones and Brent Grimes both got in on the defense's fun as well, coming down with an interception each. Jones returned his interception for a touchdown in the third quarter, giving Miami a 24-3 lead. After a punt, then Tennessee's lone touchdown of the day, the Titans got the ball back for a one play, seven second possession with Grimes picking off a pass intended for former Miami tight end Anthony Fasano.
Jelani Jenkins and Jamar Taylor each recovered one of the fumbles forced by Wake. Jenkins recovered the first just after the start of the second quarter, a play that Miami challenged after it was initially ruled an incomplete pass. The next possession again saw Wake get to Mariota, with the ball bouncing into Taylor's arms who raced down field for 31 yards before being tackled.
The performance from the Dolphins defense was exactly the performance that had been expected all year. Wake was a monster, Ndamukong Suh was clogging the middle of the line of scrimmage, the linebackers were making plays all around the field, the secondary was ball-hawking and stopping drives. This defense, which had been thoroughly disappointing through the first four games, suddenly looked like a defense capable of being among the game's elite. Was it a one-off type of performance? Was it something they can continue to do each and every week from here on out? The Miami offense made adjustments this week that could help get the team moving in the right direction, but the Dolphins need a defense capable of picking up the team and carrying them to victory. On Sunday, that's exactly the type of defense we saw.