The Miami Dolphins: A Tale of Two Halves

The Miami Dolphins spotted the Atlanta Falcons 17 points in a lackluster first half that looked like the Dolphins were ready to implode. Mike Pouncey ominously headed toward the tunnel just before intermission with a concussion. Jay Cutler refused to set his feet, dancing around imaginary rushers before unloading short or off-target. These Dolphins were the first team in 13 years not to score a touchdown in the first quarter of 5 consecutive games to start the season.

The chants of, “we want Moore,” could be heard all the way from Miami. Subjected all week to every cocaine snorting meme imaginable, the only people who still believed were in that locker room at halftime. A 15-play, 75-yard, 8 minute drive to start the third quarter sparked the comeback. Jay Cutler finally found his legs, maneuvering up and out of the pocket, then firing to Kenny Stills in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. The Dolphins had scored! The Dolphins had a pulse and it seemed that’s all they needed.

The defense, which had played well despite giving up 17 first half points, smelled blood in the water and promptly forced a three an out. Then divine invention set the stage…

Atlanta punter Matt Bosher shanked a 26-yard kick giving the Dolphins possession on their own 49. Two Falcons penalties: a 26-yard pass interference penalty on a deep pass to Jakeem Grant and a late hit on Jay Cutler, that negated a Deion Jones interception, changed the momentum of the game. Cutler floated a pass to Jarvis Landry for an easy seven-yard touchdown. “I was wide open,” Landry said. “No one can guard me. Great play design from coach.” The score was 17-14 Atlanta, but the magic was with Miami.

On Atlanta’s next possession, a Falcons holding penalty followed by a Cam Wake sack brought punter Matt Bosher back on the field. The snap seemed to bounce off the up man or perhaps it was a mishandled fake, but either way, Bosher never got the punt off and Miami took over on its own 48. Gase seized the moment, calling for a nine-yard pass to Landry on 4th and 2 before Cody Parkey nailed a 49-yard field goal with 8:39 left, to tie the game.

Newly acquired William Hayes dropped Tevin Coleman for two yards, and then a loss of eight on consecutive runs. Matty Ice had that far away “how did we give up a 28-3 lead” look in his eyes as Dolphin defenders pummeled him on nearly every play. After a Falcons punt, Jay Ajayi ripped off two 18-yard runs, Cutler hit Landry for 10 yards on a third and nine, and Parkey hit a 38-yard field goal with 2:30 to go for a 20-17 Miami lead. After 20 unanswered second half points the Dolphins would not be denied!

The Falcons drove from their own 13 to the Dolphins 26, it looked like the game was heading for overtime or a last minute Atlanta victory when Rashad Jones did his thing. Rookie Cordrea Tankersley had great coverage on tight end Austin Hooper, when he reached in, deflecting a well thrown pass. Jones “kind of cheated a little bit backside and I kept my eyes on the ball” grabbing it at the Dolphins 6 for an interception to win the game.

The victory was one to savoir for the Miami Dolphins. Postponing their first game and giving up their bye week to Hurricane Irma, going in consecutive weeks to LA, NY and London, then dealing with a coach’s snorting fiasco, brought out the true character of this team. These guys don’t quit, they don’t make excuses and they should never be counted out of a ballgame.

Jay Ajayi rushed for 130 yards on 26 carries. Jay Cutler, threw for just 151 yards but was victimized by five more drops (three by Landry, two by Ajayi). Cutler looked gun shy and confused in the first half, but something clicked after intermission and he orchestrated four scoring drives in the final 28 minutes. His 76.7 rating was not as bad as the numbers would imply, but it was a tale of two halves.

The Miami defense dominated the second half, allowing just 106 yards.

With the Jets coming to town, Miami, left for dead several weeks ago, is 3-2. The second half performance against Atlanta is the type of comeback that changes a season. Jay Cutler is streaky, but clearly we have not seen him reach his peak and that bodes well for Miami. The loss of Pouncey somehow focused the offensive line and perhaps the off practice days for Pouncey are hindering, more than helping

This Miami defense is going to lose the Dolphins another defensive coordinator, after the season, if this performance continues. The DL is the best collection of players for the Dolphins in many years and perhaps one of the best in the NFL. Maualuga and Timmons have solidified a weak linebacker corps and the two young corners are playing lights out. The thought of TJ McDonald returning at safety in a few weeks may be giving OC’s nightmares.

As Miami finds its offensive stride, this team has nowhere to go but up!

Miami Dolphins at Falcons Week 6 Game Chat

It is game time in Atlanta. Find streams of the game here.

Miami Dolphins Defense Takes W Versus Titans

The Football Gods, and leagues referees must have coagulated to agree this past week that Miami's Dolphins were due some benefit of a doubt. Miami is behind schedule as they had played one fewer game than the league has. In one fewer games (4) than the rest of the league, the Dolphins have already traveled 16,000 miles which eclipses more miles than 14 other NFL teams will travel over the seasons entirety.

After losing their week one home opening opportunity to hurricane Irma. Miami played their first home game of the season at Hard Rock Stadium today and left the building with a 2 - 2 record.

They were fortunate in that the Titans were without their all-around, highly skilled franchise quarterback Marcus Mariotta. Was it fate, or a gift from the higher powers? Those with the black & white stripes also appeared to be offering up some aqua & orange transfusions to the beached mammals.

Whatever the reasons why Miami's Dolphins got a few breaks this week?
They surely were overdue! They lost their quarterback just before the season's start, and have had plenty of flags and/or errant/missed calls go against them thus far in 2017. Let-alone what has become the rearranged schedule with the most (by far) frequent flier miles and having a wound licking bye week erased from the season's hour glass.

It is what it is, and the Dolphins must overcome. Today they did.

The Defense that now sports a line backing trio of Lawrence Timmons, Rey Maualuga, and Kiko Alonso shut down the Titans for 188 total yards with 19 tackles on 58 plays, along with a Kiko forced fumble and a sack. They held the visitors highly productive running back duo (DeMarco Murry & Derrick Henry) to 69 rush yards on 20 attempts. 188 - 69 is what Tennessee accrued through the air (119 yards).

Miami's Defense of Aqua & Orange blood sacked Matt Cassell 6 times via (Branch x two, Suh, Alonso, Wake/RJones .5, and rookie first round pick Charles Harris logged his first career NFL sack). The D also forced two fumbles that Rashad Jones recovered with one of them being returned for a touchdown and 10 - 0 first quarter home team lead.

Rookie DT Davon Godchaux forced the first fumble on the Titans third possession that #20 recovered at the visitors 42. Miami's O (cough, cough excuse me) drove the ball 19 yards for a 40 yard field goal and 3 - 0 advantage.

This is where things get sticky.
The Titans first play from their 25 goes for 11 rushing yards with another 5 being added due to defensive holding. The next play is a 59 yard touchdown bomb to the tight end. Fortunately the second tight end is ticky-tacked for offensive pass interference which nullifies the go ahead visitors score.

Two plays later on 2nd & 20 from the Titans own 31. Those of black & white stripes must have been playing Marco-Polo or been distracted by the ghost of Joe Robbie as they never (blew a whistle), ruled the play incomplete, or a fumble, or a recovery, or a defensive touchdown. They themselves had no idea of what took place until watching the mandatory (on a potential score) review. ""They never ruled a touchdown"", but upon review they gave Miami/Rashad Jones the touchdown.

It was an odd bang, bang play that seemed like Jones didn't pick up the stationary ball until 10 seconds after Alonso sacked and or caused the ball to be fumbled (nearly 10 yards forward) as Cassell's hand was simultaneously attempting to move forward from the cocked to firing position. The whistle never being blown was key, and likely the only reason Miami was awarded the score rather than just possession of the ball. It was odd, because the Dolphins are rarely offered oxygen and 14 point swings from those in black & white stripes. But Hey, we'll take it, the defense deserved this W, and that play resulting in a 10 - 0 first quarter lead didn't hurt!!

Tennessee scored 3 first half points, and tied the game at ten with their initial third quarter possession. The Titans were penalized 11 times for 77 yards and won the time of possession battle by 30 seconds. The Dolphins committed 5 penalties for 23 yards. Both teams had two turnovers.

DeVante Parker left the game early, wanted to return, but staff decided to live for another day.

Miami's only offensive possession that led to a touchdown came from the Dolphins 42 yard line with 29 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and ended 1:18 into the fourth quarter when Jay Cutler hit Jarvis Landry from six yards out. 16 - 10 Miami as the missed extra point turned the games remainder into a series of rectal exercise reps.

The Dolphins D was Da'Chit!
The Dolphins O was Da'Stench!
The Dolphins D held the Titans to 188 total yards.
The Dolphins O (cough, cough excuse me) accumulated 178 total yards with 100 coming via the ground games 31 attempts.

And it's not the quarterback who was relentlessly harassed the entire game and or all season every bit as much as Miami harassed today's opposing quarterback Matt Cassell with six sacks. Cutler avoided all but one sack.

Miami's offensive line has been horrible this season if not the last 15 years. Ajayi's getting hit upon the hand-off. Cutler at the snap is being forced into water bug mode sliding from one ripple to the next wave, and into the tsunami before managing to thankfully rid himself of that for which others playfully try to kill.

BA where are you, are you in shape, wanna come out of retirement and play the seasons remainder? We won 9 of our last 11 last year with you Tunsil, Pouncey, Bushrod, & James!

This past Thursday Defensive coordinator Matt Burke was asked if he'd agree that the defense played well enough to win the previous two games.

He adamantly replied ""no, we lost. The defense missed plenty of advantageous opportunities to flip the field and help out the offense. We aren't gonna play that game in my room, we win and lose as a team""!!

Today the Dolphins defense made the game changing play's that won if not helped the offense and team to win.

Miami is 2 - 2, and the defense will need to continue to play their best ball.
The offensive line needs to figure things out quick, or the Dolphins are gonna need the higher powers to continue to be of aqua & orange plasma.

In the batters circle stands what should be the defending World Champion Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons were 3 - 0 before suffering a home loss last week. They (conveniently) had their bye (what's that) this week and will have been sleeping in their own beds for three weeks by the time the struggling Dolphin offense comes to town.