Will the real Miami Dolphins please stand up? After almost everybody in the football world had written the Miami Dolphins off, they managed to win a close one at home against the Seattle Seahawks 24-21 this past Sunday. The impressive victory for Miami has many wondering what type of team they really are. Are they the non-shalant Dolphins who get dump-trucked at home by the sub-par Tennessee Titans? Or are they the resilient, run-stopping Dolphins we saw this Sunday against Seattle?
No matter what the answer is to that question, division leader New England is heading to town as the Dolphins will need to be more like the team that showed up against Seattle or Tom Brady and the high powered Patriots offense could make it ugly.
More specifically, the Dolphins will need to play with that same chip on their shoulder that they possessed against the Seahawks. They held Marshawn Lynch to his lowest yardage output in 20 games. Their pass defense was decent but much improved from their performances during the three game losing streak. The Miami secondary will need to play one of their best games this Sunday if the Dolphins have any hope of slowing down Tom Brady.
Ryan Tannehill will have to attack the Patriots woeful 29th ranked pass defense as he did against a much better Seattle secondary. Tannehill was a solid 18-26 with 256 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He engineered three long drives in the fourth quarter with the last drive resulting in a game winning field goal for Dan Carpenter. Yes, DC finally made a field goal in a crucial situation.
The special teams for Miami was not up to par against Seattle though as they gave up a 4th quarter kick-off return to give the Seahawks a 7 point lead. If Tannehill wasn’t throwing lasers and extending drives with his legs, Miami would have lost another close one and seemingly would have been out of the playoff hunt. Instead though, Miami rallied behind their stingy defensive line(Starks and Solai) and linebackers (Burnett, Misi, Dansby) as well as their rookie leader Tannehill to pull out the crucial win.
They will need to bring this same type intensity to have a chance to beat their division rival Patriots at home. Miami will most definitely need a win over New England to remain relevant in the AFC Wild Card hunt. Miami (5-6) is one game back of a wild card spot. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are both 6-5 and just ahead of Miami for the last AFC playoff slot.
The 2012 season still has five games remaining and much is left to be sorted out, but a question of the Dolphin’s real identity is still left unanswered. What team will we see against New England this weekend? The team that believed all the hype and lost 3 games in a row, or the team that has something to prove each week? If the latter of the two shows up, I sure like the Miami Dolphin’s chances.