The Miami Dolphins smacked the Pittsburgh Steelers in the mouth on Sunday, and then they kept doing it by calling running back Jay Ajayi’s number. And calling Ajayi’s number. And calling Ajayi’s number.
The presumed starter from the preseason who was benched for Week 1 then worked his way back to the starter’s role when Arian Foster was injured responded on Sunday. He tallied 204 yards on 25 carries, with two touchdowns.
The Dolphins had the services of Foster this week. who finally was active after missing several weeks with hamstring and groin issues. This week was all about Ajayi, however.
“It was funny, the running backs were just pushing me, like, ‘Hey man, you're not done. Keep pushing, keep working,’” Ajayi said after the game. “My boy [Kenyan] Drake kept telling me, ‘Go get 200 if you can; go get it. You’re not done with it.’”
Drake could not have been any more correct. With 1:02 remaining in the game, the Dolphins got the ball back after the Steelers scored a touchdown to close to within eight points at 23-15. The drive lasted one play. Ajayi got the first-down carry, and he took it 62 yards for the touchdown, giving Miami a 30-15 lead, and Ajayi his 200-yard day.
“At the end of the game, I was just thinking we’ll get the first down and that’ll be it, but it opened up and I wasn’t going to let anyone catch me.”
The 62-yard run was the longest run for the Dolphins since Lamar Miller’s 85-yard touchdown run against the Houston Texans last season. Ajayi’s previous highest game-rushing total was 48 yards.
The performance makes Ajayi just the fourth player in Dolphins history to rush for 200 yards, joining Lamar Smith, Ricky Williams, and Reggie Bush. It was the fourth highest total in team history, just ahead of Bush’s 203 yards in 2011 and behind Williams’ 228 yards and 216 yards in 2002 and Smith’s 209 yards in the playoffs in 2000.
Ajayi’s 200-yard game was the first such rushing day in the NFL this season.
Miami as a team rushed for 222 yards and actually won the time of possession battle at 36:30 to 23:30.
Ajayi’s big day was a huge part of Miami being able to upset the favored Steelers and, possibly, turn around a season many had already written off.