The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

A TALE OF TWO HALVES

The Dolphins’ season opening game against the Patriots was truly a tale of two halves.  In the first half the Fins committed 3 turnovers which resulted in them heading into the locker room with a 20-10 deficit.  But the second half was a totally different story as the Fins’ defense shut out Tom Brady & Company while the Fins’ offense put up 23 unanswered points to defeat the Pats 33-20.

The two big stories of the day were the success of the running game and the tremendous defensive effort in the second half which the Fins played without their starting linebackers.

The running game was simply awesome.  Knowshon Moreno was unstoppable, gaining 134 yards on 24 carries (5.6 yard average) with 1 TD.  He ran hard, hit the holes quickly, broke tackles and put the team on his shoulders in his first regular season game as a Dolphin.  It was an impressive performance that was almost dumbfounding behind the Fins’ rebuilt offensive line.  It was truly amazing to see the Fins have such success in the running game.  After all, Dolfans remember the totally inept running ”attack” last season.  Not only did Knowshon gain 134 yards, but Lamar Miller added 59 yards on 11 carries (5.4 yard average), with the team totaling 191 yards on the ground against the Patriots.

Meanwhile, the defense stuffed the Patriots in the second half, holding them to 67 net yards and no points.  Amazingly, this was done by a decimated defense playing without linebackers Koa Misi, Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe.  Patriot runners were held to a total of 89 net yards for the day (less than half the total amassed by the Fins).  Tom Brady was held to a passer rating of 69.7 which means that he was outplayed by Ryan Tannehill whose own performance was once again unfortunately mediocre.  Brady was hit a number of times, he was sacked 4 times and he even fumbled twice.  Over the years the Fins have learned that the way to beat Brady is to get to him often.

Ryan Tannehill was simply not impressive in the season opener.  Even when he completed passes they were frequently off target, causing his receivers to get hit unnecessarily, slow up or fall to the ground without contact.   His accuracy was suspect all day.  Once he missed an open Mike Wallace streaking to the end zone by so much that the ball was intercepted by the defensive back Wallace had beaten.  His numbers for the day were 18 of 32 for 178 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.  He completed only 8 of 17 passes in the second half when Knowshon Moreno carried the team. Tannehill’s rather pedestrian passer rating was 79.9, which was in line with last year’s disappointing performance.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about the Fins’ rushing performance (other than it happened) was that the Patriots did not try stacking the box to stop it in the second half.  That was indeed puzzling since it is unlikely that they held back doing so because they feared Ryan Tannehill’s arm.

Mike Wallace managed 7 receptions for 81 yards and 1 TD as he frequently battled Darrelle Revis.  But he should have brought in another TD pass.  His feet were out of the side of the end zone when he caught a Ryan Tannehill pass over his left shoulder.   Had he made the proper adjustment to the ball and caught it over his right shoulder he would have had no trouble keeping his feet in bounds.  He also stood flatfooted on another pass, enabling Revis to break up the attempt when he should have simply taken a step or two toward the ball to make the reception.  For all his speed and ability to get open, Wallace still has much to learn about adjusting to the ball and positioning himself to make the catch.

The Fins displayed some real heart in turning this game around.  Although things were not pretty in the first half when they turned the ball over on 3 consecutive possessions leading to 17 Patriot points, they stuck together and pulled out the game in the second half with impressive performances by the ground game and the defense.  And that is why this tale of two halves had such a very happy ending.

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