The Miami Dolphins beat the Washington Redskins behind a strong second-half performance, shaking off some early game mistakes to come back in Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season. Trailing by 10 in the first half, Miami shut out the Redskins the rest of the way in route to a 1-0 record on the season.
The Dolphins won the opening coin toss, choosing to defer to the second half. After receiving the kickoff, the Redskins began moving the ball seemingly at will against the Dolphins defense. Cut blocks, double teams, and designed plays away from Ndamukong Suh neutralized the Dolphins' big offseason addition and the defense could not stop Alfred Morris early. After 12 plays covering 53 yards, however, the Redskins stalled and had to settle for a 45-yard field goal from Kai Forbath and a 3-0 lead.
Miami would go three-and-out on their first possession, with the Redskins again moving the ball against the Dolphins defense after the punt. Once again, though, the drive would stall, this time after 10 plays for 50 yards. Forbath would attempt a 46 yard field goal, but would kick it wide, leaving the score 3-0.
Miami's next drive would double the number of plays from their first drive, but would again end in a punt, with the Dolphins gaining 14 yards in six plays as the game mvoed into the second quarter. Three plays later, Brent Grimes would get the ball back for Miami, picking off a Kirk Cousins pass.
With the ball at the Redskins' 12-yard line, Miami would face a 4th-and-1 on the first set of downs after the interception, and would choose to go for it. Running back Damien Williams appeared to have the hole to run through for the first down, but was caught from behind and tackled for no gain, giving the ball back to Washington.
The Redskins would make the most of the possession, driving 74 yards on 16 plays, 22 of which came on a Cousins to Pierre Garcon pass. On a 3rd-and-goal from the Miami two-yard line, Cousins found Jordan Reed in the endzoen for a touchdown, and a 10-0 lead for Washington.
Getting the ball back inside of 2 minutes in the half, Miami finally found some rhythm on offense and took it to the Redskins. Starting with a 27-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to tight end Jordan Cameron, Tannehill suddenly found the accuracy and decision making he demonstrated in the Preseason, connecting with Greg Jennings for 11 yards on the next play, then had 15-yard more added to the play because of a roughing the passer penalty on Chris Baker. After a sack, Tannehill missed Kenny Stills on a pass on the sideline, then came back to him on a 12 yard gain to the Washington 16-yard line. Another pass to Cameron moved Miami to 1st-and-goal at the Redskins' two-yard line, which Tannehill capped on second down with a pass to Rishard Matthews.
Washington led 10-7 at the half.
The Dolphins opened the second 30-minute period with a solid drive, where Tannehill found Matthews for 15 yards, Cameron for 27 yards, and Landry for 6 yards. Tannehill also ran for three yards on the drive, but it all came apart on the seventh play of the drive, when Tannehill was sacked at the Washington 34-yard line, but fumbled and the ball bounced around and was eventually recovered by the Redskins at the Miami 40-yard line.
Miami's defense stepped up, however, and forced a three-and-out from Washington, who lost two yards on the possession. Miami would punt after five plays on their next possession, coming up just short on a Greg Jennings third-down reception, a pass that went through the hands of the Redskins' defender and into Jennings' chest.
Washington approached the line of scrimmage 11 times in their next possession, though the box score will only show a six-play drive. Three offensive penalties in a row on third down killed any chance Washington had of extending their lead, with Cousins called for a delay of game, Jordan Reed called for offensive pass interference, and everyone on the offensive line appeared to hold on the third attempt at the 3rd down play. After a 10 yard run on 3rd-and-29, Washington punted the ball to Miami.
The Dolphins would tie the score on the possession, driving 76 yards on 10 plays before Andrew Franks connected on his first field goal attempt in the NFL.
Washington would again punt, this time on a three-and-out drive that lost five yards. Landry would field the punt with no Redskins within 20 yards of him, and return it 69 yards for the score, giving Miami their first lead of the game at 17-10.
The Redskins would again look to get a drive put together, but would again come up short. This time, they would move the ball, going 36 yards on 7 plays, including an 18 yards pass from Cousins to Andre Roberts, a 3 yarder to Jordan Reed, and a 15 yard pass to Ryan Grant. On 3rd and 13 from the Miami 29 yard line, Cousins went for a deep pass down the sideline, only to have Miami cornerback Brice McCain make a great play, intercepting the pass as he fell out of bounds.
The Dolphins would start trying to chew up some clock, with Lamar Miller getting some early down carries, but would only pick up 20 yards on 6 plays before having to punt the ball to Washington. The Redskins would move the ball again on their next possession, picking up 49 yards on nine plays. After avoiding a near interception from Jamar Taylor, Cousins would gain 14 yards on a pass to Roberts and 12 yards to Garcons, then give the ball three straight times to Morris. After failing to pick up the first down on 3rd-and-7 attempt, Washington would go for it on fourth down, put Cousins would throw incomplete to Reed.
Miami would kill the clock on the next drive, ending the contest with the 17-10 score.
The game was not without injuries, however, as Washington lost wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a hamstring injury and Miami lost defensive end Olivier Vernon to an ankle problem and tight end Dion Sims to an apparent concussion all in the first half. The Dolphins saw starting left tackle Branden Albert, leave the game in the second half briefly to be checked for a concussion, but he passed the tests from the team and the NFL's medical providers and was allowed to re-enter the contest.