It seems like we’ve been in this situation before, playing well enough to win football games, but falling just short late in the fourth quarter! The Miami Dolphins haven’t put together an effort for 60 minutes and that is what’s holding them back from winning a football game. The facts are that the Dolphins are 0-7, and need to keep giving the effort that they displayed inside of MetLife Stadium on Sunday to get there first win of the season. Here are some of the things that I learned from a tightly contested battle against the New York Giants.
1) No Quit In The Dolphins – This group of men displayed the effort it takes to win a football game against a team that sits at the top of the NFC East division. This is the second week in a row that the Dolphins had a victory directly in their sights and had it taken away from them. In the NFL, the only thing that matters is winning and no one questions how you get there! This team is finding it difficult to execute late when the game is in the balance, but no one can question the effort that is being put forth by this group.
2) Reggie Looked Sharp – Running back Reggie Bush looked like the player that all Dolphin fans have been waiting to emerge. Bush had the quickness to elude on the edge outside, and the toughness and vision to make explosive plays in-between the tackles. He finally looked healthy enough to break a game open with this speed and it showed by running for 103 yards! Big plays were also on the menu with him going for 35 yards that led to a Miami 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Bush also added a run for 28 yards later in the third quarter that resulted in a Dan Carpenter 40-yard field goal. I really liked the way offensive coordinator Brian Daboll used multiple formations to spread the Giants defense out and allowing quarterback Matt Moore to identify coverage and blitz keys.
3) Still Need To Finish – The saying goes it doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish and that couldn’t be more true the day after another devastating loss! Eventually you need to make the type of plays that determine the outcome of a game! The Dolphins held the lead for 53 minutes against the Giants, but couldn’t get a first down when they needed to stay on the field, or get a third down stop to prevent a big play. Miami’s offense started fast and improved in areas that have created problems in earlier games. Converting on third down has been an issue, but Miami started fast in this area, converting on five of seven opportunities in the first half. That number went down drastically in the second half (0 of 6), and that gave Giants quarterback Eli Manning more chances with the game on the line!
4) Special Teams Staying Solid – The one area of this team that has shown consistency all season has been the kicking of Dan Carpenter and the punting of Brandon Fields. It was a good sign that Carpenter’s right leg was only used once early in the game, and that was due to the efficiency of the offense in the red zone. Two for two in the plus-20 area of the field in the first half allowed Carpenter to watch from the sidelines until the third quarter, when he converted from 40 yards out in his only attempt. Fields had another outstanding day punting the football, averaging 49.4 yards which kept the Giants with a long field to manage most of the afternoon. Also newly acquired running back Steve Slaton made a significant contribution returning a fourth quarter kick-off return 42 yards to give Miami excellent field position late in the game.
5) Matt Moore Looking More Comfortable – The numbers on Matt Moore’s stat line don’t jump off of the page (13 for 22 138 yards one interception), but Moore played well enough to lead Miami to victory against the New York Giants on Sunday. I realize that Eli Manning threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns, but Moore’s ability to keep plays alive (5 rushes for 31 yards and a touchdown) and throw the football with accuracy in the first half helped the Dolphins to a 14-10 lead to start the third quarter. Moore was five for five on the first touchdown drive in the first quarter, and scrambled twice (once for 11 and once for a career-high 16 yards) to extend plays for this offense. I believe his performance is something Matt will learn from and hopefully build upon next week at Kansas City.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.