By Abraham GutierrezREAD MORE: More Than 1,300 Hospitalized In Florida For COVID-19
Coming in as 14-point favorites, the Atlanta Falcons found themselves on the losing end of a shocking 20-17 decision against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. In a tale of two halves, the Fins went into the break down, 17-0, before coming back and scoring 20 unanswered points in the second half to get the W.
“We finished drives, that was really our biggest thing,” said Adam Gase during his post-game press conference. “[In the] first half we felt good as far as what we were doing moving the ball. The personal foul hurt us and set us back. The interception just kind of surprised me on the call they played. Jay [Cutler] stepped up in the pocket and missed the throw a little bit. It really just isn’t one of my favorite calls based on what they did.”
Offensively, Miami got off to yet another dreadful start before turning things around in the third and fourth quarters. As a team, the Fins offense tallied 20 first downs (10 passes, 7 rushes, 3 penalties) and 289 yards of total offense (138 rushing yards, 151 passing yards).
In a shocking turn of events, Miami dominated the time-of-possession battle over the Dirty Birds to the tune of 34 minutes and 17 seconds to Atlanta’s 25 minutes and 43 seconds. One of the focal points of the offense was running back Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 130 yards on 26 rushes, as well as Miami’s conversions on third down (5-for-12) and fourth downs (2-for-3).
Following another forgettable start, Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler closed out the game by completing 19-of-33 passes for 151 yards, 2 TDs, INT, 76.6 QBR). One of the most telling stats from this game was the way Miami’s offensive line protected things, failing to allow a single sack all game long.
Other offensive standouts for Miami included wide receivers Jarvis Landry (8 catches, 62 yards, TD) and Kenny Stills (4 catches, 18 yards, TD). In addition, tight end Julius Thomas (3 catches, 22 yards) also got on the board, while running back Damien Williams (3 catches, 14 yards) made the most of his opportunities.
For a second straight week, the Dolphins defense did its part to secure a victory. Last week, this unit stepped up and took care of business against the Tennessee Titans. This week, they went up against one of the most prolific offenses in all of football and passed with flying colors.
As a unit, the Fins defense contained the Falcons offense to 18 first downs (13 passes, 4 rushes, 1 penalty) and 343 yards of total offense (104 rushing, 239 passing yards). There were times in the game when Gase rolled the dice and went for it on fourth down, solidifying the trust he has in this unit to step up when it mattered most.READ MORE: Miami Weather: Another Cool Morning, Slight Warm Up Over The Weekend
“I guess I just have a lot of faith in our defense,” Gase said, “so once we crossed the 50 or are anywhere near it we will probably go for it.”
Some of Miami’s defensive standouts included defensive and Cameron Wake (2 tackles, 1.0 sacks) and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (3 tackles, 1.0 sacks). For a second week in a row, safety Reshad Jones (7 tackles, pass defended, INT) sealed the victory.
Special Teams: A+
Much like Miami’s previous two victories of the season, special teams played a crucial role. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey continued to show he has ice running through his veins, finishing the game with 8 points on a perfect 2-for-2 on extra points and field goals, including a 49-yarder that proved to be the game-winner.
The field position battle was also a strong point for Miami’s special teams, as punter Matt Haack closed out the festivities with 2 punts for an average of 40 yards per boot, a long of 42 yards and one placed inside the Falcons 20-yard line.
There’s no question that Gase is really rolling the dice when it comes to sticking with Cutler as his starting quarterback. Nevertheless, the Fins head coach is staying with the seasoned veteran in spite of all the chatter among fans and the media.
“I don’t care what anyone says,” he explained. “I’m going to do what I want to do, and what is best for the team. That is how we operate. That is how we did it last year. I know the direction we are headed. I watch them in practice every day. I go through these steps with these guys.
“We are practicing well. Why are we not doing that well in a game? I feel like he is doing a lot of good things. We just got him in August, and we are a little bit behind from where I thought we would be. Hopefully, this is the first step. We put together two good drives in the Tennessee game. We had some good things going on today. We didn’t finish the drives in the first half, but in the second half, we did. The longer we keep going, the better we are going to get, and that is the goal.”
Gase and his staff did a tremendous job of making the necessary adjustments to succeed after the break and complete the rally. The Fins also did a good job of avoiding unforced errors, limiting their penalties to just 4 flags for 42 yards compared to Atlanta’s 6 violations, which cost them 73 negative total yards.
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Following a crucial victory, the (3-2) Miami Dolphins return to South Florida to close out the season-series against the (3-3) New York Jets. The Fins will be looking to enact revenge on Gang Green after dropping a 6-20 decision against New York in Week 3.