MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins picked up a much-needed win on Sunday and will continue to play meaningful games for at least another week.
The Dolphins (5-7) remained two games back in the AFC Playoff hunt with four games to go after defeating the lowly Denver Broncos 35-9 at Hard Rock Stadium.
The game began as a defensive struggle, with Miami scoring the only points of the first quarter on a safety.
The Dolphins put up two quick touchdowns on consecutive plays during the second after, re-taking a lead they would not relinquish.
A 9-play, 75-yard drive was capped off by a Jay Cutler touchdown pass to Julius Thomas, putting Miami ahead 9-3.
Following a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian threw an interception that second-year cornerback Xavien Hoaward returned for a Dolphins touchdown.
A Cutler pick-six to Justin Simmons late in the third quarter cut Miami’s lead down to ten, but that would be as close as Denver would get.
Just 2:02 later, Kenyan Drake capped off his big day with a 42-yard touchdown run.
BIG GAME FOR DRAKE
It was a career day for Drake, who finished with 120 rushing yards and the touchdown on 23 carries.
He added 3 catches for 21 yards and was on the field almost exclusively for Miami when the game was in question.
Drake also looked good as a blocker, which is a big step in the right direction for the second-year back.
Miami’s defense had a big day, forcing three turnovers and scoring a touchdown while adding a pair of safeties.
They also had three sacks, six tackles for loss and held Denver to just 1-of-13 on third down.
The Broncos only scored three points on Miami’s defense. Denver’s only touchdown came on Simmons’ interception of Cutler.
It was also a good day for the secondary, something needed badly as the Dolphins came into Sunday with only four interceptions on the season.
Miami certainly turned things around, picking up two interceptions in the first half and three for the game as Xavien Howard finished with a pair and T.J. McDonald added an easy one that bounced off the hands of Denver wideout Emmanuel Sanders.
Howard’s first half pick-six was his first career regular season interception in his 18th NFL game.
He previously had an interception in Miami’s playoff loss to Pittsburgh back in January.
Howard added another interception during the fourth quarter for good measure.
His pick-six was the first by a Dolphins cornerback since Brent Grimes intercepted Blake Bortles and took it to the house during Week 8 of the 2014 season.
Additionally, Howard’s five passes defended tied for the most in an NFL game this season, joining Los Angeles Chargers corner Casey Hayward.
Sunday marked the first time in franchise history that Miami has scored two safeties in one game.
- Cutler’s pick-six was on a pass intended for DeVante Parker. Five of Miami’s last six interceptions have come on passes intended for Parker, as have five of the last nine passes thrown his way.
- Parker finished with one catch for five yards, the same exact stat line he had last week against New England.
- Kenny Stills moved into a tie with Jarvis Landry for the team lead in touchdowns with his sixth of the season. Stills finished with five catches for 98 yards and the score.
- Cutler completed four passes of 20-yards or more, hitting Stills twice (including his touchdown), Landry and tight end Anthony Fasano.
- Miami held Siemian to a 30.5 quarterback rating. He completed just 19-of-41 passes for 200 yards and three interceptions.
The Dolphins welcome the powerhouse New England Patriots to South Florida for an AFC East matchup on Monday Night Football.
It’s Miami’s fourth game on national television this year. They’ve been outscored 112-45 while going 0-3 in the previous ‘big stage’ outings.