MIAMI GARDENS—It took the Dolphins a long time to finally bury Cleveland today, but they got there. After trailing by three early in the third quarter, Miami came back for a 30-24 overtime win at Hard Rock Stadium.
Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for the Dolphins this afternoon:
1. The Dolphins’ secondary is making a lot of receivers look good.
Terrelle Pryor had two catches his entire career before this season, but seemed like Randy Moss against Miami. He had four catches for 62 yards, including a 25-yarder, in the first half and finished with eight for 144. Last week there were four Patriots with at least four catches and 48 yards.
2. How much more convincing do you need that this team isn’t close to the playoffs?
The big comeback against New England last week was a mirage. The revealing part was the 24-0 deficit in less than two quarters, and the Dolphins proved that with a weak performance against Cleveland. The Browns were the de facto worst team in the NFL, playing with their third-string quarterback and missing key players at several other positions. Good teams demolish opponents like that, especially at home. Instead, the Dolphins needed overtime to survive on a day in which Cleveland missed three field goals.
3. Kenyan Drake is Miami’s best running back after Arian Foster.
The Dolphins took Drake thinking he’d be their future at running back, and they confirmed that thought by making him the starter over Jay Ajayi today. With Foster out, Drake ran nine times for 37 yards. When Foster returns from his groin injury, look for Drake to continue with a solid role in the offense. The Dolphins went with Ajayi on their final drive, though, and he rewarded them with an 11-yard touchdown run to win the game.
4. The Dolphins need Mike Pouncey back.
Miami’s offensive line has been fine so far, especially in pass protection, but the team is down to its third option at center after losing Anthony Steen in the fourth quarter today. Kraig Urbik filled in for him. Pouncey has been out with a hip injury since August and has yet to practice, but coach Adam Gase said he’s been telling the staff he’s ready to play.
5. Cameron Wake still has it.
Even with the understanding that the Dolphins are playing it safe with Wake coming off his Achilles injury, there’s no way this team can afford to play him just 16 snaps like it did last week. Physically, he appears to be in great shape. He looked strong late in the preseason and showed up big this afternoon. In the first quarter, he barreled through Cleveland right tackle Austin Pasztor for a strip-sack of Cody Kessler.
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