The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS

The Dolphins-Bills game was certainly about two teams headed in opposite directions.  The Bills started this season strong, but have since been fading (going from 4-1 to 5-5).  The Fins, of course, started 0-7, but have now won 3 straight after thrashing the Bills. 

The Fins scored touchdowns on their first 3 possessions en route to scoring 4 TDs in the first half, winning impressively, 35-8.  The score was 28-6 at halftime when the game was essentially over.  Matt Moore, just 2 weeks off the award for the AFC’s top offensive player of the week, was 10 of 13 (79.2%) for 147 yards and 3 TDs in that first half.   He finished the day 14 of 20 (70%) for 160 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions.  His QB rating was 133.3 (not far off the 147.5 rating which won him the weekly award in the game against the Chiefs).  

In the second half the Fins merely coasted to the win.  The Fins only managed to get into the end zone twice in the second half.   The first was when Chris Clemons blocked a punt and Lex Hilliard fell on the ball for a TD.  The other time was unfortunately when Daniel Thomas got tackled for a safety, giving the Bills their only 2 points of the second half. 

So who are these Dolphins, sudden owners of a 3-game winning streak?  How can they look so strong after their 0-7 start?  Well, part of the answer lies in the teams they have beaten.  This 3-game winning streak has come at the expense of the Chiefs (tied for last at 4-5), the Redskins (in last place at 3-7) and the Bills (losers of their last 3 by a total of 80 points).  If you are wondering how the Fins will fare when they play a good team, you won’t have to wait long as they travel to Dallas (6-4) to play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving where they have a chance to prove they have truly turned things around.   

Meanwhile, these Dolphins did some things they have not done in a long time.   The punt block/touchdown recovery routine had not been performed since 1990 when they victimized the Patriots.  One would also have to search the books back to 1990 for the last time they held opponents to under 10 points over 3 consecutive games.  And this 3-game winning streak is their first such streak since 2008, the year the Jets jettisoned Chad Pennington in favor of Brett Favre, only to have Favre falter while Pennington took the Dolphins to the Division title. 

The Fins picked up 2 INTs against the Bills, both coming on deflections.  One was nabbed by Nolan Carroll; the other was grabbed by Yeremiah Bell.  And these were not necessarily the 2 best plays made by the secondary which came up with some nice stops and some very big hits.  They also held Bills’ QBs to 21 completions in 44 attempts (47.7%) and a 43.3 passer rating.  The defense did a nice job of controlling league-leading rusher Fred Jackson, holding him to 17 yards on 7 carries (2.4 per attempt) in the first half.  But it was really the Fins’ offense that was responsible for holding Jackson in check in the second half because, having given the Fins a commanding lead in the first half, the Bills turned away from the running game in the second half when Jackson would not have a single carry. 

In some ways the lopsidedness of the final score was not reflected by the Fins’ offensive yardage.  Matt Moore only threw for a total of 160 yards and the rushing attack produce only 95 yards all afternoon.  But 2 of the Fins’ 4 first-half touchdowns came on short fields after interceptions, one drive covering 4 yards and the other only 23 yards.  Their only second half touchdown was a special teams’ play, so 3 of their 5 touchdowns required a grand total of 27 yards of offense to accomplish.  Hopefully, the second half shell the Fins’ offense went into will not hold them back when they take the field in Dallas in 4 days. 

Even with their impressive win on Sunday, the Fins remain in last place in their Division where they still stand 2 games behind the Bills.  If they want to continue heading in the opposite direction from their division-rival Bills, they must beat some better quality teams.  They will have an opportunity to do so shortly as they head for Dallas on Wednesday for their Thanksgiving matchup with the Cowboys.  Let’s just hope they don’t leave Dallas looking like turkeys! 

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