The Miami Dolphins defense had a player meeting five weeks ago and they changed the way the were going to play defense. Since then, Miami has held every opponent below 20 points and today, held the hapless Panthers to 10 points.
Today was impressive on a lot of levels. Cam Newton was held to just five completions through three quarters before he was replaced. He threw 20 passes for a 6.7 quarterback rating. The defense intercepted him twice.
Miami’s defense got into the act early with a blocked punt for a touchdown on the first Panthers series that set a physical tone for the rest of the game. Miami stacked the line and begged the Panthers to throw deep. Once through the game Newton completed a deep pass when Miami blitzed that eventually resulted in their only touchdown.
Miami held Christian McCaffrey to 10 carries for 36 yards and no receptions. While D.J. Moore caught 4 passes for 103 yards, many of those came on the long pass early in the game and in the cleanup minutes at the end of the game.
Xavien Howard finally got his 25th career interception and Nik Needham and Jevon Holland both got interceptions as well.
Looking at the stat line is crazy today. 10 players on defense were credited with a pass defensed, 7 tackles were made for losses. Rookie Jaelan Phillips was credited with three sacks and could have two more easily. Emmanuel Ogbah had a sack as did Christian Wilkins.
Miami held Newton to just 92 yards and back up P.J. Walker to 87 yards late in the game. They held the entire Panther rushing offense to 64 total yards on the ground.
It was a complete team effort on both sides of the ball and has left many fans wondering why the hell the Dolphins coaching staff waited so long to make the necessary changes on defense. Had they been playing like this earlier in the season, their record would be a heckuva lot different.