57. 86. 72. 66. 61. 171. 11. 68. Those are the rushing totals allowed by the New York Jets in their first eight games of the season. That averaged to 74 yards per game allowed, the best per-game average allowed in the league over the first eight weeks of the year. New York allowed just 3.3 yards-per-attempt heading into their game with the Miami Dolphins.
And the Dolphins simply did not care about those stats.
The Dolphins gained 137 yards on the ground on Sunday, with Jay Ajayi picking up 111 of those. The team picked up 4.3 yards-per-attempt, with Ajayi gaining 4.6 yards whenever he ran with the ball.
In other words, the Dolphins looked at the New York Jets, knew the strength of their defense, and took it straight into them anyway. And it worked.
And it was beautiful.
It was a dog-fight all day, but it was beautiful.
“They showcased why they’re the number one rush defense today,” Ajayi said after the game. ”(They) did a lot of good things and kind of getting good penetration here and there. But what we did on the sideline and talking with the o-line, we just kept it steady. We knew we were going against a good challenge today. All credit to what they were able to do – not letting us get to 200 (yards) and all that, but I still think we had a good game on the ground, still tried to create creases. The o-line still did a good job of pushing penetration, and we were able to finish the game strong with a good four minute and seal the game.”
The Dolphins offensive line allowed more pressure on Sunday in pass protection, but they were able to open up lanes against the top ranked run defense in the league and reach another 100 yards for Ajayi. Ajayi was stopped early, but had the patience to wait for his opportunities as the game progressed. Head coach Adam Gase stuck to the run even when it did not seem to be working, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill did not change the play calling to try to go more pass heavy.
Miami committed to the run, and it led them to a third straight win. Now, the team will take their new-found running prowess across the country to face the San Diego Chargers in Week 10, a team that, prior to this weekend’s games, was ranked sixth in the league with an 86.0 allowed yards average.
And, they will probably look straight at the Chargers, and run it right at them as well.
And it will be beautiful.