A Big Win
The Miami Dolphins have improved to 5-7 on the season with a win over the hapless Denver Broncos in Week 12. With a final score of 35-9, this one felt like a statement win for Miami.
A win like this is just what the Dolphins needed, as many had felt as though they had given up on the season after a five-game skid. So, what does this win mean for the Dolphins going forward?
At 5-7, the playoffs would seem to be out of the picture, until a second look. That is, until the records of other AFC teams are observed. Miami is still technically in the hunt. After suffering five losses in a row, dealing with many injuries to key players, a hurricane, etc that is quite the accomplishment.
This team has shown some fight time and time again. At one point in recent memory Miami was 12-0 in one score games. They started off 4-2 despite many setbacks. This is all a testament to Miami’s coaching staff and the fight within the players. They just don’t know when to quit.
The Game Itself: Defense
So just how did Miami come up with such a big win you ask? Well, it came down to quarterback play for the most part. Miami’s defense was able to feast on poor play by Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian.
Without the threat of a vertical passing attack, Miami’s defense was able to be more aggressive against the intermediate passing game. This resulted in three interceptions for the Dolphins. Two of which belonged to second-year corner Xavien Howard. Meanwhile, the other was collected by T.J. McDonald Jr.
The aggressiveness was certainly great to see. The Dolphins were able to tip passes down the field and at the line of scrimmage. They were also able to make plays in the backfield. This sort of play was expected from Miami in the pre-season, as their defensive line was certainly encouraging on paper.
Now, not everything was perfect. There were a few coverage breakdowns at times. This resulted in receivers running wide open in the middle of the field. Miami’s fans have grown accustom to this, as it has been a recurring issue.
Thankfully the problems were resolved quickly, as the explosive plays by the Broncos were few and far in between.
The Dolphins defense was actually able to break a record today. This is the first time in franchise history that two safeties were recorded in one game. The Dolphins feasted on the Broncos today, as they consistently had them pinned deep in their own territory.
The Game Itself: Offense
The Miami Dolphins took advantage of excellent field position all day long. This was the first time in a while that Miami’s fans have gotten to witness a complete game. One where the offense, defense and special teams all showed up from start to finish.
With that said, Miami was able to keep things balanced. While running back Kenyan Drake received a career-high number of touches at 23, Cutler also attempted 31 passes. Cutler ultimately completed 18 of those passes for 235 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
One of the interceptions was a 50/50 ball that receiver Kenny Stills was not able to win. The other was a case of Cutler forcing a pass into heavy coverage to receiver DeVante Parker. Parker has been heavily criticized in recent memory for his inability to win 50/50 balls despite his size, as well as his accused lack of effort.
Cutler did an outstanding job of working the pocket against the Broncos. Denver’s pass rushing and run stopping ability is no secret. The good news is that Cutler adjusted to the fearsome front seven and was able to avoid big hits or forced, errant throws.
Cutler climbed the pocket on multiple occasions and was able to find his receivers downfield for huge gains. One of which was a double move by Stills, who really poured it on in the end. The other was a picture perfect back-shoulder fade throw from Cutler to tight end Julius Thomas for a touchdown.
Thomas has certainly come alive in the past few weeks as his involvement on offense has steadily grown. Again, things were balanced in today’s game. There was not an over-reliance on any one receiver or back.
With that said, Drake had an outstanding day. He was able to run for 120 yards on the aforementioned 23 carries. He also ripped off a 42-yard scamper for a touchdown. That touchdown was Miami’s second rushing touchdown of the season and the second for Drake this year.
Drake is known for being well-rounded and on that touchdown carry it showed. He showed excellent vision, elusiveness, power and speed on that run. He was able to see tiny windows, make the right cuts at the right time, break through two tackles and burn the rest of the defenders on his way toward the endzone. Check out his awesome run that showcases his limitless potential here.
That emphatic play by Drake pretty much sums up what kind of day it was for Miami. It was truly a party in Miami as many players contributed with standout plays and noteworthy efforts. It was a total team effort and the fight in this team showed.
Look for the Miami Dolphins (5-7) to lace ‘em up against the division rival New England Patriots (10-2) in Week 13. This will be a home game for Miami on Monday Night Football. The Dolphins have done poorly this season during primetime outings, but this could be a chance for them to make some noise in the AFC playoff race.
- Isaih Battiste is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Dolphins. He covers the Miami Dolphins 365 days a year. Be sure to follow @FPC_Dolphins on Twitter and Full Press Dolphins on Facebook!