MIAMI GARDENS—The Dolphins unloaded weeks’ worth of frustration on the Broncos to break out of their five-game funk with a 35-9 victory at Hard Rock Stadium.
The 35 points were the most Miami has scored this year and they came every imaginable way. The Dolphins got two safeties for the first time in franchise history, they threw for a touchdown, ran for a touchdown and came up with a pick-six.
Here are five quick takeaways from a feel-good afternoon in South Florida:
1. The Broncos are so, so bad.
Finally, the Dolphins got a true gimme. The Jets turned out to be tougher than anyone thought, and the Buccaneers were surprisingly decent, but the Broncos were as advertised. They looked every part of a team that had lost seven straight, has no quarterback and has committed the second-most turnovers in the NFL. This was a franchise that was in the Super Bowl two years ago and still managed to go 9-7 last season. Denver is a total wreck and might very well go winless the rest of the year, so keep some perspective when celebrating this victory.
2. Kenyan Drake wanted this and he better be ready for it.
Without Damien Williams, Drake is the only proven option for the Dolphins at running back. He got the ball six times out of 11 plays on the opening drive and totaled 23 carries and three catches for a combined yardage of 141. Williams has a significant shoulder injury, and there’s no timetable for his return at this point, so Drake will likely have to manage this type of workload for another week or so. That’s good news for him as he tries to prove himself as premiere NFL running back.
3. The more Jay Cutler and Matt Moore play, the more everyone misses Ryan Tannehill.
The best thing to be said about Miami’s quarterback situation right now is that it’s better than Denver’s. When Cutler plays, everyone wants Moore. When Moore plays, everyone wants Cutler back. The real answer is Tannehill, who can’t get back from his knee injury soon enough. Cutler completed 18 of 31 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, which wasn’t great but also wasn’t terrible. That’s what he is: a middling, old quarterback who’s just OK. The Dolphins need better than that if they want to compete next year, and a healthy Tannehill can deliver it.
4. Funny how the defense looks a lot better against Denver than New England.
Interceptions, safeties, sacks—the Dolphins can do it all when they’re facing a team as bad as the Broncos. They came in as one of the worst offenses in the league, and Miami cashed in with three takeaways, including a pick-six and another interception by Xavien Howard. The Dolphins held Denver to 274total yards and destroyed confused looking quarterback Trevor Siemian. They stuck him with a final line of 20-for-42 passing, 219 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions and a 33.7 passer rating. Miami also stopped the Broncos on their first 11 third-down conversion tries and 14 of 15 overall.
5. Adam Gase still has this team thinking playoffs.
It might sound absurd to everyone outside the Dolphins’ facility, but this team hasn’t given up on a return trip to the playoffs. The win over Denver keeps them two games behind sixth-place Baltimore with four games to play (keep him mind that the Ravens have the head-to-head edge by virtue of their 40-0 win in October) and gives them a chance to go 9-7 if they run the table. Winning out is far-fetched considering New England comes to town next, but even if this team can scrape its way to 8-8 that would be a good accomplishment considering everything that’s gone against Miami this year.
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