By Abraham Gutierrez
It was historic day for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins, as Miami stringed together its first win streak of the season, in a game that had the feel of a home opener. With hard-nose defense and a balanced offensive attack, the Fins improved to 3-3 on the year, putting the Houston Texans in their rear-view mirror with a 44-26 rout in front of a sold-out crowd at Sun Life Stadium.
“Obviously, we got off to a fast start, played well in the first half,” Dolphins’ head coach, Dan Campbell said after the game. “When you jump on people that way that early, good things are going to happen. We can’t allow some of the things that happened on the second half go on as they did, those can bite you in the [expletive].”
With a balanced attack, Miami tallied 21 first downs and 503 yards or total offense, out of which, 248 were gained on the ground and 255 through the air. The Dolphins held on to the ball for 32 minutes and five seconds, rushing the rock 35 times and throwing it on only 20 occasions.
One of the reasons why the Fins offense was so effective was due to the play of second-year quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Setting a new NFL record for consecutive completions (25), the former Texas A&M standout had a game to remember.
With great protection from the offensive line, Tannehill connected on 95 percent of his pass attempts, going 18-for-19 for 282 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interception for a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3.
“You have to give credit to Dan and the rest if the coaching staff, they’ve kind of turned it around, got us in the mindset, playing confident and it all starts with our preparation here in the week,” Tannehill said during his post-game presser. “We were able to transfer that over on Sundays and we’ve had good results.”
Fourth-year pro out of “The U,” Lamar Miller continued his much-improved play, as he recorded his second 100-plus rushing game of the season. Last week against Tennessee, the 24-year-old from Miami, Florida, racked up 113 yards on 19 carries. He shattered that mark against J.J. Watt and the Texans defense, rushing for 175 yards on 14 carries, along with three receptions for 61 yards and a score. Standout receivers on the afternoon consisted of Jarvis Landry (5 catches, 83 yards, 2 TDs) and Rishard Matthews (3 catches, 75 yards, TD).
With six three-and-outs and a pick-six in the first half, the Dolphins defense set the tone for what would be a very long afternoon for the Texans. The visitors were shutout during the first two quarters of the game, as were finally able to break into the scoreboard in the third quarter. However, the game was well in hand at that point, as Miami was on cruise control.
The Texans recorded 24 first downs, but only 322 yards of total offense, 71 rushing and 251 yards passing. Two of the keys to a Miami victory consisted of limiting running back Arian Foster (18 rushes, 59 yards, TD) – who left the game with an ankle injury – and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (6 receptions, 50 yards).
“It was fun getting out there, getting after it,” said Cameron Wake, who recorded two sacks, a pair of tackles and a pass defended. “We had another week of hard work that we put in the last few days and we just wanted to come out there and show what we’ve been doing.”
Other defensive standouts for the Miami Dolphins in Week 7 include safety Reshad Jones – who for a second game in a row recorded a pick-six – (8 tackles, 2 pass defended, INT), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (6 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 pass defended) and cornerback Jamar Taylor (7 tackles, pass defended).
Special Teams: B-
A kicker’s job is rather simple – convert field goals, extra-points and execute kickoffs – but when the simplest of tasks aren’t satisfied, the little things become that much more important. Luckily, the Dolphins put this game out of each prior to the break, making Andrew Franks’ missed point-after a non-factor.
When his name was called, punter Matt Darr answered the call with 5 punts for an average of 49.2 yards per boot, a long of 55 yards, and two punts that were accurately placed inside Houston’s 20-yard line.
It was another terrific effort by the Miami Dolphins coaching staff. Since Joe Philbin’s firing, Campbell has gotten this bunch to play to the level of their talent, and a two-game win streak is proof of that. The play-calling this afternoon was great, on both sides of the football, and judging by the way they came out, this week’s preparation and gameplan was executed to perfection.
Looking Ahead To Dolphins Week 8 Matchup
With no time to celebrate, the Fins will have a short week to prepare for their biggest test of the season. Scheduled for Thursday night in primetime, Miami travels to Foxborough with a golden opportunity to hand the New England Patriots their first loss of the season. This game is scheduled for 8:25 p.m. ET and it will be broadcast live on CBS Sports and NFL Network.
“Big game, Thursday night, everybody’s watching,” Wake said. “You want to put your best foot forward, hopefully put that in the bank for maybe whatever’s to come down the line, but we gotta play like it’s any other game – go out there and have fun, be competitive, win your one-on-one, same things we’ve been working on. It’s a short week, we just gotta get out there and start fast and let the chips fall where they may.”
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, aExaminer.com and other online publications.