It certainly wasn’t pretty, but they all count. After a 1-7 start, the Miami Dolphins have managed to claw themselves back to 6-7, after a convincing 20-9 victory over the New York Giants.
Here are 3 reasons why Miami was able to knock off New York:
Reason #1: No Free Plays On Defense, Positive Plays On Offense
The easiest way to win football games? Let your opponents make the mistakes, not you. You don’t have to win games if your opponent will lose them for you, and the Dolphins did exactly that against the Giants.
Miami only committed 3 penalties all game (1 of which was in garbage-time), well below the league average of 6.3 penalties per game.
On defense, the Dolphins didn’t allow a single play over 25 yards, which severely limited New York’s offense. The Giants weren’t able to stretch the field at all, and if they wanted to score, they’d have to methodically drive the field to do it. Simply put, the Dolphins didn’t give up any “free plays”, and made the Giants work for every single yard. To put it kindly, playing that type of football isn’t exactly Mike Glennon’s specialty, and it showed on Sunday.
On a crucial Giants drive near the end of the 3rd quarter, Miami was able to grab back-to-back sacks, forcing New York to burn a timeout AND take a delay-of-game penalty on the following play. As a result, the Giants faced a whopping 3rd-and-33 on their own 10-yard-line. This led to a punt, and Miami received the ball with great field position. Force your opposition into mistakes, then pounce on your advantage. It’s just war folks, just war.
Meanwhile, on offense, Miami started almost every single drive with a positive play. Sure, it’s only a 3-yard run here and 4-yard catch there, but those yards mean absolutely everything on 2nd-down. 2nd-and-short essentially opens up the entire playbook, as the threat 3rd-and-long is almost completely out of the picture. It sounds simple, but that’s because it is. As complex as football can be, you’ll win games if you can consistently make positive plays to start drives, end of story.
Reason #2: Won The Battle On The Defensive Line
Another reason why Miami won the game, was the stellar work done by the defensive line. The Dolphins’ defense completely stuffed the Giants in the trenches. By my count, they racked up 4 tackles for a loss on Saquon Barkley alone. In total, the Dolphins' defensive line also managed 15 pressures and 3 sacks, 2 of which came courtesy of rookie Jaelen Phillips. Miami’s secondary didn’t play exceptionally well (outside Xavien Howard doing Xavien Howard things), but it effectively didn’t matter with such great play up front. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the extra pressure generated from Miami’s linebacking unit. Brian Flores drew up a number of aggressive blitz packages and Cover-0 schemes for the Giants, and while it wasn’t as flashy as previous weeks, it was highly effective and got the job done in the trenches.
Reason #3: Ball Security
Miami’s offense has certainly had better days, but they did one thing exceptionally well on Sunday—they didn’t turn the ball over. The drops were definitely a concern, but they didn’t lead to interceptions, and that’s what’s important. Tua Tagovailoa protected the ball well through the air, as did Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed on the ground.
It’s easy to ask for more production out of this offense, and I think it’s perfectly valid criticism (at times). But, you can’t win football games if you’re giving the opposing team the ball every other drive. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather protect the football than rack up meaningless yards to pad the stat sheets.
The Dolphins are on a bye next week, but they return in Week 15 to host the 3-9 Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. If Miami continues playing like they’ve done in the past few weeks, we might be heading into Monday Night Football looking at a 7-7 football team. Keep the positive plays going, minimize your mistakes, and continue being aggressive on defense, and this team is primed to fight for their spot in the NFL Playoffs.
Editor’s note: Please welcome Sumeet to the team here on The Phinsider. He is coming on board and looking forward to becoming a big part of what we do here on the site.