The Miami Dolphins hopes of continuing the 2013 season undefeated were thwarted by an elite quarterback and a raucous crowd in the Superdome Monday night. Drew Brees using his patented pump fakes left the Miami defense guessing wrong all night. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill could not match Brees, faltering with 4 turnovers leading to two New Orleans scores.
Poor play calling early led to a Miami field goal when a stretch run was upended for a 2-yard loss on 3rd and inches inside the 20. Miami also punted on a 4th and 1 in the second quarter but was still only 4 points down when a Tannehill fumble broke the game open and the Dolphins could not recover.
The Dolphins are now 3-1 after the 1st quarter of the season, a record that most thought would be much worse. After beating the Browns, Colts and Falcons to start the season, the early stretch of difficult games caught up to Miami Monday night in New Orleans. Playing without injured star Cameron Wake, the Dolphins were unable to mount the pressure needed to slow down Brees and the New Orleans Offense.
Twice Rashad Jones tried to jump routes to Darren Sproles only to find himself a victim of a Brees pump fake leading to scores. Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham lived up to the billing making a brilliant TD catch in traffic for one score and running past the Miami defense for another. The Dolphins did shut down the Saints rushing attack but Brees and his receivers were too much for the Miami secondary.
Miami’s free agent Mike Wallace played poorly in his home coming, dropping a would-be touchdown and looking tentative on slant routes across the middle. Lamar Miller averaged nearly 6-yards a carry, but with the Dolphins trailing the entire game, his touches were limited.
In the end, Ryan Tannehill mistakes stopped 4 Miami drives and gave the Saints field position and momentum. Once the score became lopsided, the New Orleans defense was able to unleash a constant barrage of blitzes, sacking Tannehill 4 times. The 38-17 final score was not indicative of the beating Miami took in the Superdome.
The 3-1 Dolphins must regroup for another difficult contest against the Baltimore Ravens before heading into the bye week. There was not much for Miami fans to be happy about on Monday night except perhaps the emergence of Lamar Miller. Baltimore does not look as formidable as they have in the past and Miami has a good opportunity to enter the bye with a 4-1 record.
On any given Sunday (Monday) one team can fire with every cylinder perfectly tuned. The Saints were that team. Miami got a taste of what an elite team plays like and now know where they need to go to join the upper echelon of the NFL.