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Dolphins come back to beat Raiders, move to 3-0 on season

Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins could not get into a rhythm against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The Raiders seemed to bottle up everything Miami’s offense was trying to do, especially in the running game, and the Dolphins had no answer for Jordy Nelson who had 139 receiving yards with a touchdown in the first eight minutes of the contest. Miami was outclassed and looked to be in trouble.

Except, they won the game.

They scored 21 straight points in the second half to take control of the game and, once they blew past the Raiders, high fiving along the way, they did not look back. The Dolphins won a game in which things did not work, and they did it by staying within themselves, clawing and fighting for every yard, and eventually finding enough space to break it open. The Dolphins won 28-20.

The box score looks impressive: Ryan Tannehill 17-for-23 for 289 yards with three touchdowns along with three carries for 26 yards; Albert Wilson two receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown along with 1-for-1 passing for 52 yards and a touchdown; Jakeem Grant two receptions for 70 yards and two touchdowns; Kenny Stills three receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown; Danny Amendola three receptions for 42 yards; DeVante Parker two receptions for 40 yards; Mike Gesicki three receptions for 31 yards; Kiko Alonso 15 tackles; Minkah Fitzpatrick 10 tackles; Jerome Baker nine tackles; Bobby McCain nine tackles and a pass defense; Vincent Taylor seven tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss; Cameron Wake three tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits; Xavien Howard one tackle, three passes defensed, two interceptions. The box score was not the story of the game.

The trick play where Ryan Tannehill handed the ball to Frank Gore who flipped it to Albert Wilson who threw the ball to Jakeem Grant who scored on the 52-yard catch-and-run was not the story of the game. Wilson’s 74-yard touchdown on a shovel pass from Tannehill was not the story of the game.

The story of this game was the first half, where Miami struggled. It was four punts in five possessions, two of which were three-and-outs. It was a defense that allowed a touchdown, a 95 yard drive that ended in a turnover on downs when the Raiders went for it on 4th-and-Goal from the one-yard line, and it was an 8:37, 16-play drive the Raiders put together. It was Miami looking lost, confused, and not sure of themselves.

And Miami won the game.

It was a running game that, on the day, picked up 41 yards, 26 of which were Tannehill. Frank Gore carried the ball six times for 12 yards, while Kenyan Drake had the ball five times for three yards.

And Miami won the game.

It was an Akeem Spence ejection and injuries to William Hayes and Andre Branch killing any sort of rotation the Dolphins’ defensive line could have had. Not to mention the Week 2 injury to Reshad Jones that forced the Pro Bowl safety to miss the game.

And Miami won the game.

It was referees that repeatedly made calls that stalled the Dolphins, even when it was a blatantly wrong flag.

And Miami won the game.

It was Xavien Howard recording two interceptions. It was Jakeem Grant flying all over the field. It was Ryan Tannehill looking poised and confident even after the offense lost the ability to play-action with no run game threat. It was Matt Haack booming the ball (mostly) to change field possession. It was Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker getting involved in the offense.

And, that is how Miami won.

It was not pretty. It was not easy. And it was not how the game plan was designed. But head coach Adam Gase kept his offense working and made some impressive play calls when they were needed. Ryan Tannehill worked to find his rhythm, thereby finding the offense’s rhythm. And the defense dug deep to overcome missing players and exhaustion in the heat.

This is a game the Dolphins would not have won in the past. It felt like the game was one where a 6-10 team starts their slide. Instead, this team clawed their way to the win, finding something that worked and then building off that.

Now the team sits at 3-0 on the season and in first place in the AFC East by two games. They can build off that.