Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The old adage in the NFL is to win you have to be able to run the football and stop the run. The Miami Dolphins are running Reggie Bush to success and the Fins’ defensive front seven has become the pre-eminent run-stoppers in the NFL this season.
Coming off the win against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Dolphins defense has yet to allow a team to run for more than 100 yards against it in 2012. Overall, the Dolphins defense gives up just 61 yards per game and just 2.7 yards per carry. It’s making Miami opponents one-dimensional, a goal of head coach Joe Philbin.
“To a large degree, we’re getting that done,” Philbin said. “We’re getting the run shut down well and getting favorable down and distance where we can tee it up and go after the quarterback a little bit. That’s only going to help us as we move forward.”
Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland deserves the credit for putting together this defense. He convinced Cameron Wake to join the team a few years ago, along with defensive tackle Randy Starks. Ireland drafted starter Jared Odrick and re-signed mammoth tackle Paul Soliai.
Between those four players, almost no one chooses to run against the Dolphins.
In the Fins’ 17-13 victory over the Bengals, Miami allowed a total of 80 rushing yards and 46 of the Bengals’ 65 offensive plays were passes. The Dolphins defense also pulled down three sacks, two interceptions, and didn’t allow a play longer than 24 yards.
“The game plan every week never changes,” linebacker Kevin Burnett said. “Stop the run, eliminate the big plays, and get two turnovers. If you can do that, you can beat anyone in this league.”
Cincinnati converted two of 14 third-down situations. The Dolphins are allowing a 26-percent conversion rate, second-best in the league, which their offense appreciates.
“When you have a defense that keeps putting you on the field,” receiver Brian Hartline said, “that’s part of the recipe for winning.”
If not for an errant Dan Carpenter kick and a Ryan Tannehill fumble, it’s entirely plausible that the Dolphins defense could have carried the team to a 4-1 record thus far on the season. The Dolphins are currently 2-3 and tied for second place in the AFC East.
The Fins are set to welcome in the St. Louis Rams this Sunday and hope to continue the streak of stifling opponents in the running game. Between Starks, Odrick, and Soliai, the Fins have 964 pounds of man along the defensive line looking for running backs to stuff.
St. Louis brings running back Steven Jackson in tow, but the Rams’ offense has struggled this season and that’s not a good formula when facing the Dolphins’ front line.
The Rams’ defense has improved under first-year coach Jeff Fisher, which will be the first time he’s visited South Florida since spurning the Dolphins to coach the Rams. Needless to say, a Miami victory would be especially sweet for Philbin, Ireland, and team owner Stephen Ross.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)