MIAMI (CBSMiami) – To say the Miami Dolphins thrilling comeback victory in Atlanta on Sunday was a surprise is a bit of an understatement.
Miami came in as 13-point underdogs, which really didn’t feel like much of a stretch considering the Falcons were last season’s NFC representative at the Super Bowl.
Atlanta’s previous game was an embarrassing home loss to Buffalo so aside from some extra motivation from that outing, the Falcons were also coming off their bye week so they had ample time to prepare for Miami.
The Dolphins meanwhile had scored three offensive touchdowns all season and had to deal with some in-house drama when former offensive line coach Chris Foerster resigned following the now infamous video he took of himself snorting a white powder.
“Who cares what people say about us?” Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake asked. “We believe in us. We are going to go out there and fight regardless of the situation, back against the wall or not. I think that is just how we are built.”
The Dolphins certainly didn’t make things easy on themselves as the game seemed like it was over by halftime after Atlanta took a 17-0 lead into the break.
That’s when Miami woke up.
After receiving the second half kickoff the Dolphins marched 75 yards in 15 plays on a drive that took 8:43 off the clock, capped off by a Jay Cutler touchdown pass to Kenny Stills.
“I think it made a spark,” Stills said of Miami’s opening score. “We had a couple of good drives in the first half, so to be able to just put some points on the board you could see how the momentum shifted and we were able to take over the game from there.”
Fueled by another strong effort by the defense, and finally some consistency from the offense, Miami did just that.
The Falcons were held to just five second half first downs, three of which came on their final drive while trying to tie the game with a field goal.
To hold Atlanta’s top 5 offense in check is the latest statement made by Miami’s emerging defense.
“We always try to prove ourselves,” Wake said. “Last week we knew we had some things to fix and coming into this game we made it about us. Outside of the locker room, we did not care about what everyone was saying. We were saying we had to believe in one another and go out there and do your job. The rest would take care of itself.”
The way Miami has been able to pull out close games is a testament to the team’s mental toughness, which is something that starts at the top.
Since head coach Adam Gase took over, the Dolphins have won 11 straight games that were decided by one score.
“These guys are different cats,” Gase said. “They have something in them where it doesn’t matter what the score is. They will battle. Today was the first time the offense kind of gave our defense a little hope. Once we came out and scored and our defense saw us get in the end zone, the sideline came alive quick.”
Miami now one of just six teams in the AFC with an above .500 record.
With some well-deserved confidence, the Dolphins will look to win their third straight game next week when they host the New York Jets.
“Anytime you fight your way out of a hole and come out successful, especially against a good team, it definitely is going to be one that makes you feel good for a little while,” said Wake.