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DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — Things looked a little different when the Miami Dolphins had the ball on Sunday.
The Dolphins are now running the ball more than they’re throwing it, which can happen when a former Nebraska Cornhusker calls the plays.
Newfound devotion to the ground game has yet to invigorate Miami’s anemic offense, however.
Ex-Husker quarterback Zac Taylor took over last week as play-caller pledging to run the ball, and on Sunday the Dolphins did. They had more yards rushing than passing for the first time since the 2014 season opener, and the run-pass ratio was 26 plays to 20.
Better balance produced only eight first downs and one touchdown, however. Ryan Tannehill threw for a season-low 86 yards, and the Dolphins (5-7) needed dominating defense to beat injury-riddled Baltimore 15-13.
“The game plan might be different next week,” center Mike Pouncey said. “We may let Ryan throw the ball 58 times like we did last week.”
Throwing will be tempting next Monday night against the New York Giants (5-7), who rank last in the NFL in pass defense. But Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell believes more running plays provides a path to salvaging something from this disappointing season — and might earn him a chance to lead the team again next year.
“I’m a big believer that you do need more balance,” Campbell said Monday. “We did what we needed to do to win that game. We ran it well, and the defense played really good football. It’s a good formula.”
The Dolphins came into the game with the most lopsided pass-run ratio in the league, but ran the ball effectively against the Ravens’ stout front.
Lamar Miller netted 113 yards, topping 100 for only the third time this year, and averaged 5.7 per carry. The Dolphins even brought the read option out of mothballs, and Tannehill kept for 11 yards and a first down.
The tone was set early, when the Dolphins ran for a first down on third and 5.
“We committed to the run,” Campbell said. “We didn’t go off the game plan just because they shut down a couple of runs. And it helped us.”
But Tannehill had his lowest completion total since 2012. He went 9 for 19, and Miami was held under 21 points for the 10th time in 12 games.
“We weren’t efficient enough in the passing game,” Tannehill said. “A lot of that is on me. We should have made enough plays when we had the opportunities.
“The run game was great, so we were able to stick with the run game and keep grinding it out on the ground. But it has to be cleaner in the pass game and complete more passes when we do throw it.”
Campbell fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor a week ago after Miami had a 61-9 pass-run ratio in a loss to the Jets. Campbell assigned play-calling to quarterbacks coach Taylor, and gave Tannehill more input into the game plan and more latitude with audibles.
Taylor called plays from the sideline, and Tannehill said they had good communication.
“We made a few plays when it counted, and that has to be a credit to him for putting us in the right play,” Tannehill said.
Other offensive players praised Taylor’s commitment to the ground game, even if Miami’s point total showed no improvement.
“Everybody benefits,” left tackle Branden Albert said. “The defense is not on the field as long. We don’t put Ryan in bad situations. And we weren’t out there having to pass block for long periods of time.”
So why didn’t the Dolphins run more earlier in the season?
“I don’t know,” Albert said. “I’m just a left tackle.”
Notes: Reserve DT Robert Thomas dislocated his elbow Sunday, Campbell said, which could end his season. The coach said starting DT Earl Mitchell might return this week from a calf injury.
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