The Dolphins were able to end their three-game losing streak on Sunday, defeating the Seattle Seahawks, 24-21.
By controlling the line of scrimmage for most of the game, the Dolphins had a shot in the fourth quarter. Ryan Tannehill led two 80-yard TD drives and a final 65-yard drive that ended with a 43-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.
Here are my key takeaways from the Dolphins’ 24-21 win over the Seattle Seahawks:
- 4th Quarter Comeback: It was nice to see the Dolphins put together a game-winning drive, culminating with a 43-yard game-winning field goal. The last drive really showed that youth has been served on the Dolphins’ offense. It was the rookie quarterback going to clutch receiver Davone Bess twice, once for 25 yards and another for 19, to kick start things. When the pocket broke down, Ryan Tannehill used his athleticism to pick up a much-needed 15-yard gain to keep the drive alive. The long gains will get more attention, but a couple of big plays to set up Dan Carpenter’s field goal were key. First, Tannehill hit Charles Clay for seven yards; the next play was a 4-yard run by Daniel Thomas to get the ball into Carpenter’s comfort zone. So with the game on the line, it was the rookie Tannehill going to the most reliable player on offense (Bess) and a few productive young players (Clay and Thomas).
- Recharged Running Game and Offensive Line: After some recent struggles, the offensive line played an aggressive, error-free game on the ground. Their play allowed running backs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas to have as much success yesterday as they’ve had in any game this year; it was their best day as a tandem, combining for 147 yards on 23 carries. A unit that had trouble creating a lot consistency, especially in early down situations, was aggressive and opened things up. Both Thomas and Bush were able to average over six yards per carry (Bush: 6.2 ypc; Thomas: 6.7 ypc), and each reeled of a 20-yard run. We even got see a new wrinkle in the running game when center Mike Pouncey pulled after snapping the football and got to the edge to help open a lane up on Bush’s TD run. When Bush went out, Daniel Thomas more-than-capably filled the void when the Dolphins were looking to run the ball in the middle-to-late part of the game.
- Big Plays Were Back: The Dolphins finished with 435 total yards against the league’s no. 3 defense, gutting out a three-point victory on Sunday. A majority of those yards came in the second half (286), as did some of the more explosive plays in the game. Miami’s offense had been looking for a spark; since halftime of the Indianapolis game, the unit had produced just one 20+-yard play, struggling to put up points in the process. But on Sunday, the Dolphins gashed the Seahawks’ defense for seven plays of 20 yards or more, finding the end zone more times (3) than they had the previous 10 quarters.
- Defense Contains Marshawn Lynch: Shutting down Marshawn Lynch was going to be a challenge, even for the Dolphins’ typically strong run defense. The Seahawks’ back came into yesterday’s game already over 1,000 yards, averaging over 100 yards per game. But Miami’s defense was able to stop Lynch before he could ever really get going, holding him to just 46 yards on 19 carries, a 2.4 average yard per carry. As the numbers showed, the difference was clearly the play of the front seven. Remember the Buffalo game when Reshad Jones was the team’s leading tackler–that’s not typically a good sign because it means that running backs are getting to the second level at will. Against Seattle, though, the top-3 tacklers were Karlos Dansby (7) and outside linebackers Koa Misi (6) and Kevin Burnett (6). That means the big guys up front — Randy Starks and Paul Soliai — controlled Seattle’s offensive line, allowing the linebackers to roam free and make run fits against one of the league’s most dangerous runners.