The Miami Dolphins spoiled Halloween for Cincinnati Bengals fans by defeating the Bengals 22-20 in overtime last night, winning in fashion with a walk off safety-sack by DE Cameron Wake. Wake’s safety-sack was the third time in NFL history in which a team wins with a walk off safety.
Now, Miami did show great promise last night looking quite dominant during the first half. And, of course, collapsed a bit during the second half, but we will get to that.
If you take a look at the statistics, you would honestly think that Cincinnati blew Miami out of the water (no pun intended). In reality, it was Miami who looked like the dominant team in this one, not the other way around.
Miami, now 4-4 and tied for second place in the AFC East with the New York Jets, ended their 4 game losing streak and will look to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two Monday’s from now in yet another prime time television game.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, falls (HA, falls) to 6-3 and while still atop the AFC North, this team has some adjustments to make especially after losing DT Geno Atkins last night to a torn ACL.
Let’s take a look at some observations from last night’s upset:
—-Of course we start with QB Ryan Tannehill who actually looked pretty damn good on the night. Tannehill completed 20 of his 28 attempts for 208 yards and ran for one touchdown. The biggest thing I drew from his performance was that Tannehill was INDEED turnover free! That’s huge for Tannehill and this offense. When Ryan Tannehill takes care of the football, he is great. But when he struggles, he’s terrible. Tannehill was on target for the majority of the night, but still holds on to the ball a bit too long in the pocket. But, rejoice because he is getting better. Definitely great signs from Miami’s young signal caller.
—-If two defenders hadn’t played extraordinary, I would have given the game ball to RB Lamar Miller here. I know, I know, “Cut to the left LAMAR, GO LEFT!!!”. Click Here. I was screaming at him also, but the guy has really looked great the past few weeks carrying the football. One thing I want to see from Miller more, however, is running angry. Miller was running angry to open the game and after his inexcusable fumble, the kid simply ran with fear. Run angry, Lamar. Run angry. Miller and Daniel Thomas combined for 143 of Miami’s 157 yards on the ground, averaging 5.1 yards per carry as a duo. Very, very effective, huh Mike Sherman?
—-It’s time to give WR Mike Wallace a break from scrutiny, the guy played a very effective game last night, in my opinion. I was very happy with his 6 reception 82 yard performance, which could have been even bigger if CB Terrence Newman hadn’t tackled Wallace on a beautifully thrown deep BOMB from Tannehill which looked to be right in stride – would have been six easily. Wallace ran a beautiful route on a 40-yard pass from Tannehill in which Wallace grabbed the ball crossing the middle and used his speed to hit the edge and gain some yardage after the catch. Solid.
—-WR’s Brian Hartline and Rishard Matthews did their jobs perfectly. I was impressed with Matthew’s 16-yard reception that showed great body control and concentration to snag the ball out of the air. And Hartline, who finished the night with 3 receptions for 39 yards…what can you say about this catch other than C-L-U-T-C-H. One of the league’s best at body control and field awareness. Can’t teach this stuff that he does.
—-I’m still hankering for the tight ends to be a bit more involved, but it was nice to see Wallace finally make some plays without whining about not getting the ball. TE Chares Clay snagged 3 balls for 22 yards, but it was his 3rd and one conversion that really stole the show. Clay took the hand-off and completely ran over CB Dre’ Kirkpatrick gaining 13 yards in the process. Maybe Clay should be your short yardage guy? I’m just sayin’. TE Michael Egnew also had a nice catch that went for 13 yards. I want to see this kid more involved moving forward. He’s impressing me. And to all of the Egnew haters out there, as WWE’s DX used to say, “We’ve got two words for ya….!!” You can fill in the blank.
—-How ironic is it that Miami is without RT Jonathan Martin and Tyson Clabo comes in to start in his place AND LG Richie Incognito leaves the game early in the second quarter with a neck injury and G Nate Garner, who was owned last Sunday by DE Chandler Jones on a field goal attempt to block Sturgis’ attempt, yet the unit has one of their most dominant games? That’s some Halloween voodoo-crap right there. All kidding aside, LT Bryant McKinnie has made a huge difference at left tackle – I can’t believe what I just wrote. This unit needs to continue to move the line of scrimmage. Oh, and shout out to T Will Yeatman. Yeatman has been a project moving from TE to T and played quite well last night as Miami’s 6th offensive lineman. Expect to see more of that moving forward.
–On a side note, hopefully Jonathan Martin gets everything figured out and returns to the team. I think this is a bit eye opening for everyone, including those involved. Time to kiss and make-up, fellas.
—-I thought the pass rush was there early, and it clearly was. DE Cameron Wake deserves the game ball and then some for his performance tonight. Wake finished the night with 3, yes 3, sacks a forced fumbled and a fumbled recovery to go with 5 tackles. Joining Wake on the stat sheet with a sack was Paul Soliai with one and Jared Odrick and Derrick Shelby with a half a sack each. The unsung hero here would be DT Randy Starks who didn’t grab any sacks on the night, but Starks was applying pressure quite often.
—-This was perhaps one of the worst second halves of football I have seen Miami play defensively in terms of tackling. I’ll single players out in a second but this whole allowing opposing offenses to pick up third and longs has GOT to stop. Last night it was on the corners for not breaking down and tackling their assignment. The Gio Bernard run, I give the defense some benefit of doubt as they had been on the field for the majority of the third quarter, that being said Bernard broke 6 tackles AND Miami had the kid stuffed in the back field. Come on now.
—-I had mixed emotions for the linebackers on the night. LB Philip Wheeler probably played his worst game as a Dolphin. Wheeler struggled in coverage, consistently missed tackles and was being blown off the ball. He is, however, Miami’s best blitzing linebacker. LB Koa Misi played Koa Misi-like yet again making very little impact plays. But I was intrigued by the play of LB Dannell Ellerbe. Obviously Ellerbe did not play lights out, but he played one of his better games as a Dolphin. We’re making progress, Mr. Ellerbe.
—-Don’t let Andy Dalton’s 338 yards passing fool you, I thought the secondary played a good game. Obviously the spotty tackling on third and long added to Dalton’s total and takes away from having a spectacular game, but the secondary played well. I was very impressed early with the way that the corners were challenging routes. CB Dimitri Patterson clearly makes a huge difference defensively for Miami and made a great play to jump in front of the receiver to grab an interception and set Miami back up in good position to add to the lead before half. CB Brent Grimes struggled early on to keep his footing against WR AJ Green but made a great play to jump a Marvin Jones intended pass and return the interception 94-yards for a touchdown. HUGE PLAY. I told you in my keys to a victory article I loved the way Miami’s corners matched up in this one. They did not let me down.
—-We received another good game from S Chris Clemons and another roller-coaster game from S Reshad Jones. I’m waiting for Jones to have one of those dominant games like he did a season ago, but it has yet to happen. Maybe a big game against a beat up Tampa offense will help him out???
—-I thought this game was officiated well in spurts but there were some questionable calls. I’m not so sure that was holding on TE Jermaine Gresham when WR Marvin Jones scampered into the end zone. And you cannot tell me that CB Adam “Pacman” Jones was not draped all over Hartline here? Other than that, I thought it was officiated fairly.
—-PK Caleb Sturgis shanked a 34-yard field goal on his first attempt of the game but sent the game into overtime but nailing a 44-yard field goal. He also nailed a 36-yard field goal. Hopefully this kid has regained his confidence. Kickers are very, very important. Every point counts.
—-P Brandon Fields, you amaze me.
—-K/PR Marcus Thigpen really needs to get himself going via the return game. I was hoping the kid would help spark Miami’s offense by giving them a big return a few times last night, and he let me down. Thigpen was one of the better returners last season, but has really dropped the ball this season. Come on guy.
—-Miami really had no business winning this game if we look at their third down efficiency. The team converted 3 of 14 third downs (21%). That’s not going to win you many football games, guys. Clearly this is something that the team must work on.
—-I was surprised with OC Mike Sherman’s game plan. I was actually happy with it for the most part. The only thing I can complain about is….we’re in overtime….we have struggled to pick up 3rd and short all year…the run game is working…it’s right after we get a huge play from CB Terrence Newman being a jackass tackling Wallace…3rd and short….so we run off tackle? What? Come on. I know, we punt. And then DE Cameron Wake kills the game with a safety-sack. But still, run a fricken QB sneak. You needed inches!
All in all this was a very exciting game, hell I had trouble getting myself to sleep last night. My heart was pounding so hard! But it’s time to move on, get healthy with a nice lengthy layoff and focus on the upcoming match up with the in-state Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are still win-less.
Miami, now at 4-4, has a real chance at regaining some ground in the race for an AFC Wild-card spot with games against Tampa (0-7), San Diego (4-3), Carolina (4-3), New York Jets (4-4), and Pittsburgh (2-5) over the next 5 weeks. If Miami can come out of that stretch winning 4 of those games they’ll be in a good spot.
And I leave you with this….