The Miami Dolphins approached their game in London against the Oakland Raiders like a business trip. There were no thoughts of a vacation; no sightseeing tours to take or group outings on the schedule. The Dolphins traveled to the U.K. with only one goal in mind: to return to South Florida with a win.
They did just that, dominating the lowly Raiders for the majority of the game and coming away with a convincing 38-14 victory. Miami now heads into its bye week with an even 2-2 record and gets an extra week to rest and prepare for their game against the Green Bay Packers in a couple weeks.
Following such a resounding win, there are several positives to be taken away from the game. Here are a few of the top performances from Sunday:
Nobody on the Dolphins had a tougher week than quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The media attention swirled around him when head coach Joe Philbin refused to name a starting QB in the days leading up to the game against the Raiders, a situation that Tannehill admitted caused a distraction. Come Sunday, all the third-year quarterback did was put on his best performance of the young season, passing for 278 yards and two touchdowns which was good for a QB rating of 109.3 (coming into the game, his rating was 74.1 ranking him 29th in the NFL).
Tannehill also spread the ball around, completing passes to nine different Dolphins. What’s very impressive about that is with eight of those receivers their longest catches ranged from 16 to 35 yards, showing that there was an emphasis put on completing passes down the field as well as Tannehill setting his pass catchers up with good ball location so they could be hit in stride and run after the catch. At one point of the game Tannehill made 14 straight completions, a streak that was only broken after a dropped pass by Brandon Gibson.
Once again the Dolphins showed that they can move the ball on the ground without any issue. Lamar Miller led the way with 64 yards on just 12 carries (5.3 average) and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Daniel Thomas was productive in limited action for the second straight game, running for 35 yards on five carries and adding a 25-yard reception as well. Even Tannehill got in on the action, matching Thomas with 35 rushing yards on five carries.
As a team, Miami ran for 157 yards on 35 attempts, good for a solid 4.48 average yards per carry. Lamar Miller would’ve had a third touchdown but he fumbled literally inches from the goal line, and Thomas had a receiving touchdown called back on an offensive pass interference penalty on Dion Sims. The Dolphins rushing attack should only get better as the team will welcome back the injured Mike Pouncey and Knowshon Moreno sometime in the very near future.
Through three games the Dolphins had yet to record an interception but that changed in a big way on Sunday. Brent Grimes, Jimmy Wilson and rookie Walk Aikens all came away with picks during Miami’s win over the Raiders while Cortland Finnegan recovered a fumble and returned it for a 50-yard touchdown. The Dolphins secondary also combined to make 21 tackles including five apiece for Grimes and Will Davis and another four for Finnegan. Like the run game, this unit will also get a boost after the bye week when starting safety Reshad Jones returns to the lineup following his four-game suspension.
There is no area of the team that has been scrutinized more in the past year than the offensive line. So far this season they’ve played better than most expected, consistently opening up holes for the running game and doing a good job of protecting Tannehill as well. Most of the sacks they’ve given up have been interior sacks when Tannehill either held the ball too long or stepped into the sack instead of moving to the outside. Still, after giving up four sacks in back to back games (both coincidentally were losses), the Fins o-line put up a big fat goose egg against a Raiders front that sacked Tom Brady twice the week before.
New general manager Dennis Hickey has done a good job building up the line. Tackles Brandon Albert and Ja’Wuan James have been solid and should be a long-standing duo for years to come. The interior line hasn’t been as steady, especially the right guard position, but getting Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey back in the lineup should greatly improve things. Overall, the comparison is night and day between the 2014 offensive line and the one from last season that gave up a franchise record 58 sacks.
[display-posts category=”dolphins” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]