The Miami Dolphins responded to the adversity of the past two weeks in emphatic fashion today, as the team posted a 38-14 rout of the Oakland Raiders at Wembley Stadium. If the Dolphins are going to have a successful season, they needed to take advantage of a winless Raider team the way they did, and multipleDolphins players responded to that challenge. Notably, quarterback Ryan Tannehill not only responded to the Raiders on the field, but answered many questions about the type of player he could be.
Miami now moves to 2-2 on the year entering their bye week, providing a fresh boost entering the second quarter of the season.
Here’s what stood out during the Dolphins’ dominant performance in London:
1. Start Fast, Stay Fast
Even though the Raiders started out with a 7-0 lead, the Miami Dolphins matched a score with a score early in a game through a Caleb Sturgis 41-yard field goal, starting what would be a 38-0 scoring run. Today, quarterback Ryan Tannehill executed the offense with ease and efficiency. Tannehill’s accuracy and his decisiveness in the passing game clearly improved from the previous three weeks. Tannehill hit nine different receivers and strung together 14 straight completions at one point in the first half, three away from a franchise record. In the three previous first halves, the Dolphins were outscored 43-13, but today, turned their first four possessions into 24 points, getting a result on every possession, erasing the memories of slow starts in Weeks 1-3.
2. Extra Benefits
A direct benefit of the Dolphins controlling the tempo on offense is that the defense saw less snaps in the first half. In the opening half, the Dolphins had scoring drives of eight, eight, seven, and nine plays that assisted in resting the defensive unit, which helped make them fresher and better through four quarters. Another result of that is that the defense was aggressive playing the football, turning three errant throws and a botched shotgun snap into 14 points off turnovers in the Cortland Finnegan fumble recovery and Lamar Miller‘s second touchdown. Also, playing against a rookie quarterback and a receiving corps without any star power, the Dolphins were allowed to dial up more pressures, because they were less fearful of getting beat over the top. That led to sacks, fumbles, negative plays, and interceptions, a recipe for defensive success.
3. Game Changing Plays
By my count, the Dolphins had at least 13 plays of over 15 yards of more. I really think that it’s easier to call a game as a coordinator when you execute the plan on the offensive side of the football, and that amount of big plays is definitely part of the plan. They made it much easier on offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to apply multiple sets and motions to formations to confuse the Raiders defense. It’s easier to have tempo when you’re executing at the level that the Dolphins were executing at.
Two examples of this included when Tannehill hit Hartline down the seam in the 3rd quarter. That play had been called originally for Charles Clay to get open across the middle. Usually Charles flashes quickly and Ryan dumps it off. But with Tannehill executing so well, he was able to and feel confident enough to make a bigger play downfield. It was the willingness the coordinator to call a play with those options, and then Tannehill’s able to take it to the next level and take it to the second read for a bigger gain.
The other example was on Mike Wallace’s touchdown, the Dolphins utilized a three man bunch set out wide, and the Raiders only sent two defenders to cover three people. Tannehill noticed the mismatch, and quickly faked the ball to Lamar MIller and got the football out to the Wallace, where his second effort and good blocking got him into the end zone.
News & Notes
- Through the first three games of the season, the Dolphins couldn’t muster an interception. This week that all changed, as the Dolphins secondary made life brutal for Derek Carr and Matt McGloin, with Brent Grimes, Jimmy Wilson and Walt Aikens recording interceptions as part of a four turnover day for the defense.
- While the Dolphins dominated in most phases of the game, it was especially evident at the line of scrimmage. Miami rushed for 153 yards on the day, while holding Oakland to just 53 yards on the ground.
- It seems like every week, another player on the Dolphins defensive line steps up in terms of rushing the passer. This week it was Derrick Shelby, who recorded two sacks on the day.
- Today was the first multi-touchdown game of Lamar Miller’s career.
- With the victory, the Dolphins are now 1-1 at Wembley, avenging a 2007 loss to the New York Giants.
RELATED: POSTGAME NOTES: Dolphins Vs. Raiders