Fourth quarter surge leads Miami Dolphins to victory

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 23: Jakeem Grant #19 of the Miami Dolphins runs for yardage during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 23: Jakeem Grant #19 of the Miami Dolphins runs for yardage during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) /

14 points in the fourth quarter leads to a 28-20 Miami Dolphins win over the Oakland Raiders Sunday inside Hard Rock Stadium. Miami is now 3-0 for the first time since 2013.

The Dolphins were trailing 17-7 with less than three minutes left in the third quarter, then the offense started firing on all cylinders. 21 unanswered points followed, including a 52-yard TD pass from Albert Wilson to Jakeem Grant on a trick play. Here are my week three takeaways.

1)  Xavien Howard = lockdown corner

Howard saved the game Sunday. Who knows how the Dolphins offense would have responded if Oakland would have scored to take the lead with less than three minutes left in the game.

Luckily, no one will ever know and no one cares because of Howard. The third-year cornerback from Baylor came down with two interceptions Sunday, the second one in the end zone with under three minutes left and Miami clinging to a 21-17 lead.

That’s now seven INT’s in the last eight games for Howard. And the Dolphins are tied for first in the NFL with five interceptions this season.

2) Miami’s offense has an abundance of weapons … and Gase knows how to use them

Jakeem Grant, Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills can all flat out fly. Kenyan Drake flashes out of the backfield. Danny Amendola and Frank Gore are veterans that can still make plays. DeVante Parker stretches the field and Mike Gesicki showed promise in the passing game as well Sunday.

I can’t recall another year in my lifetime (20 years) when Miami had that many options offensively. Just look at the box score from all three of Miami’s games this season; no one has had more than five receptions in one game. Grant had five catches week one, that’s it.

When a team has that many weapons on offense, it makes game planning so much harder for the opposition. Sunday’s game is a perfect example. Drake only touched the ball seven times and Gore only ran it six; it did not matter because of the way Gase used his playmakers.

After Howard’s interception, the game was capped off on this toss to Wilson.


The 52-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Grant was a thing of beauty.

Gase could not have used this at a better time. Forget saving this for later in the season. Trailing by 3 with less than 8 minutes left in the game, he pulled out one of his best plays and it led to a victory.

4) Miami started slow … again

Slow starts will come back and haunt this team at some point. It didn’t cost the Dolphins a win against Tennessee or Oakland, but against a team such as New England, it will.

It seems like Miami can never put together a complete game and it’s easily the most frustrating thing about Adam Gase’s teams. Even when the Dolphins did put up 20 points in the first half against the Jets, they were then blanked in the last two quarters of play.

In the 2016 playoff season, Miami only scored 8.7 points per game in the first half. In the second half, the Dolphins scored 12.8 points per game which ranked 10th in the NFL.

This season Miami only had seven points at halftime against Tennessee and Oakland before rattling off 20 and 21 points respectively in the second half.

In order for Miami to beat a top tier team, they must play a complete game. They will face their toughest test of the season next week at New England.

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5)  Give the ball to Jakeem Grant more

Grant is easily the most dangerous receiver Miami has because of his ability to simply out run everyone. He needs more touches than he’s gotten the first three weeks.

I am not trying to contradict what I said in my second point and limit anyone else, but look at what Grant did with the ball in his hands Sunday: 2 receptions, 70 yards and 2 touchdowns.

He doesn’t need to get 8-10 receptions per game, but I firmly believe the offense would benefit if Grant had the ball in his hands five or six times every week.

One last point… 

The will to win and the ability this team has to keep fighting through adversity continues to amaze me. It’s something we have not seen in recent years, 2016 being the exception.

However, the slow starts are a concern and I still have not seen enough to make me believe Miami can win against New England on the road.

Injuries could play a major factor in next week’s game. Will Reshad Jones, Bobby McCain, William Hayes and Andre Branch be healthy? If not, Tom Brady will have a field day.

Last, Sunday was a team win. Both sides of the ball stepped up when needed and everyone contributed. The defense did not carry the offense for all 60 minutes and the offense got scores when the defense needed a boost.

Miami hasn’t beaten New England inside Gillette Stadium since 2008 (the wildcat game). They’ll need the entire team if they want to walk away victorious in week 4.