The Miami Dolphins were just a few plays away from taking down the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, running out of gas late in the 39-36 loss. The Broncos hold the NFL’s best record at home in the last three seasons (20-2), and Miami put up a valiant fight to try to blemish that record. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the losing effort continued his steller run of play, leading the Dolphins to their 3rd highest scoring output of the year.
Here’s a few observations from this week’s game against the Broncos:
1. Chain Reaction
For the Dolphins to come away with a victory, not only did they have to score likely in the high 30s, but defensively they had to limit Peyton Manning and all of his offensive weaponry. Unfortunately, it was not Peyton Manning’s right arm that did the most damage, but it was the legs of C.J. Anderson – making his second career start- rushing for 167 yards and one touchdown. For as much bad press has been coming out of Denver’s offensive line, they sure seemed to rally and play a great game, being able to create cracks in a normally stout Dolphins run defense, which hasn’t been exposed for over 200 yards on the ground all year. The lack of sure tackling and injuries played a role in the inconsistent performance of the Dolphins defense. Those missed tackles led to both Anderson and Juwan Thompson always falling forward, and giving Manning passing situations in his favor, which he was then able to take advantage of. Multiple players on the defense were in and out on defense due to injury, including Jared Odrick, Jamar Taylor and Koa Misi. Taylor once injured, did not return, while the other two did.
2. Tannehill Continues To Impress
The way Tannehill has been playing over the past month and a half gives you the confidence that the Miami Dolphins will be able to be productive in the coming weeks on offense. His percentage is up, his touchdowns are up, and again against the Broncos, he strung together 12 straight completions. He’s been able to do something like that multiple times this season, and he threw for three scores. He also used his legs in the red zone for a score for the first time all year. Red zone scoring had been a hot topic for the offense, but they answered questions about that as well, going five for five in terms of scoring TDs inside the 20 on Sunday. There’s also definitely a rapport and chemistry building between Tannehill and rookie Jarvis Landry, who led the team in receiving. And even though Tannehill threw a tipped pass for an interception late in the game, his play gives the Dolphins a chance to beat anybody in the month of December.
3. Setting The Scene
It would have been a great victory if the Dolphins capitilzed today in Denver, but now there’s no doubt that the Dolphins need victories in four out of the next five games to have a chance at reaching the playoffs. Divisional battles with the New Jets -two of them- and New England Patriots, along with home games against the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens loom large now. It’s much easier said than done in sweeping the rival Jets, and all we have to do is look back to last season, when the Dolphins fell short against New York in Week 17 last year. Coaches and players’ mentality is that the next game is the most important game, and that sentiment really rings true going on the road to Metlife Stadium, and grabbing a victory to create momentum in the month of December to reach their desired destination come January.
News & Notes
- Wide receiver Jarvis Landry put up the best performance of his young career in several categories today. Landry scored two touchdowns and seven catches, both career high numbers in that category.
- Quarterback Ryan Tannehill tied a season-high in terms of passing touchdowns against Denver. He threw for three scores, matching his effort in Week 9 against the Chargers.
- Long snapper John Denney recovered a fumble today, making it the second straight year that the team’s longest tenured player has done so. Denney recovered a fumble against the Patriots in Week 15 of last season.
- Linebacker Jelani Jenkins led Miami in tackles against the Broncos with 11. He was the lone defensive player with double-digit tackles.
- The Dolphins had seven offensive lineman active for this game, and all did get game action.
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