Sprinkled in among an otherwise listless year for the Dolphins, they got some exceptional individual performances.
Some of the great games came from the usual stars, but others were less expected. Here’s a look at the top 10 one-man shows from this season:
10. DE Cameron Wake vs. New York Jets
Wake was nasty in this one, and the Dolphins needed it. Jets quarterback Josh McCown was generally shredding them, but Wake came through with 2.5 sacks for his most productive game since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2015. Only 15 players in the league had a game of at least 2.5 this year. Wake sacked McCown on third down twice in the fourth quarter as Miami rallied from a late 14-point deficit to win 31-28.
9. WR Jarvis Landry vs. New England
There weren’t many “monster” games from Jarvis Landry this season; his value was more about reliability and consistency. His 46 yards on eight catches against the Patriots doesn’t jump off the box score—it’s not even in his top 10 of the season yardage-wise—but he had two critical touchdowns in the biggest win of the year. Right after the Patriots pulled within 7-6 early in the game, Landry scored on a 5-yarder from Jay Cutler. With New England still threatening in the third quarter, he struck again from 4 yards. Considering how badly Miami needed a red zone threat, those were incredibly important plays.
8. S Reshad Jones vs. Tennessee
This might be the game that got him in the Pro Bowl, and Miami probably wouldn’t have won without him. On a day when the offense was dreadful, Jones came up with a defensive touchdown when he was the only one with the wherewithal to realize there was a live ball bouncing on the field. Kiko Alonso popped it loose from Matt Cassel, and the Titans stood idly as Jones ran it back 38 yards for the score in a game the Dolphins went on to win 16-10. He also teamed up with Cameron Wake on a sack and had seven tackles.
7. WR Kenny Stills vs. Tampa Bay
There’s an undercurrent of disappointment in some of these great performances because they ultimately weren’t enough for the Dolphins to win. Much like Cutler’s big night against the Raiders, Kenny Stills’ seven catches for a career-best 180 yards in the loss to Tampa Bay are fairly forgettable. That’s not his fault, though. He was productive no matter who was playing quarterback and beat two defenders to catch a 61-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore that tied the game with three minutes left.
6. QB Jay Cutler at Atlanta Falcons
Smokin’ Jay and the Dolphins looked dead against Atlanta, which led 17-0 at the halftime and had limited them to 140 total yards in the first half. But Jay Cutler came alive in the third quarter and led Miami on four straight scoring drives. It was the first time since 1994 that the Dolphins pulled off that kind of comeback on the road. In the second half, Cutler went 11 of 19 for 87 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers for a 104.5 passer rating.
5. RB Kenyan Drake vs. New England
Funny how so many Dolphins had great games on that Monday night clash with the Patriots. The only way Miami would’ve had a chance in that one was if they got such big contributions. Just a few games into being not just the featured back, but essentially the Dolphins’ only running back left standing, he ran for 114 yards on 25 carries to help them put away New England. He also chipped in a career-high 79 receiving yards on five catches. That kind of performance was exactly what Adam Gase had in mind when he put Drake in a starring role.
4. K Cody Parkey at Los Angeles Chargers
The Jupiter Juggernaut had been on the roster two weeks, and few of his teammates knew his name (or nickname, for that matter) until he single-footedly won the season opener for them. In his Miami debut, Parkey hit from 30 and 28 early in the game, then made a 35-yarder in the fourth quarter to pull the team within one. Trailing 17-16, he came through again with a 54-yard game-winner with 1:05 remaining.
3. QB Jay Cutler vs. Oakland
What a waste. The Dolphins got only a handful of really good games from Jay Cutler this season and did nothing with his gem against the Raiders. He completed his first 16 passes and finished 34 of 42 for 311 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and no fumbles. His 81 percent completions marked a career high, and the 121.3 passer rating was his best with Miami. That probably goes down as one of the top 10 games of his career.
2. QB Matt Moore vs. New York Jets
The Dolphins were teetering at that point in the season after some ugly offensive showings in September followed by a resurgent victory at defending NFC champion Atlanta. They were on their way to another embarrassing loss to the Jets when Matt Moore took over for Jay Cutler, who broke two ribs. Moore came in and rallied Miami from down 28-14 early in the fourth quarter to set up a game-winning field goal by Cody Parkey with 22 seconds left. Overall, he completed 13 of 21 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. Six of Miami’s eight longest plays that afternoon came on throws by Moore.
1. CB Xavien Howard vs. New England
Who’s had a better day at work than this guy? Xavien Howard picked a Monday Night Football game against the Patriots to play the best game of his life, and he did it despite spending all day vomiting from the flu. He intercepted Tom Brady twice, including on a deep ball at the start of the second half in which he inexplicably made up several yards in a split-second to pluck the ball out of the air in stride. Brady threw eight picks all year, and Howard had two of them in one night. He also completely shut down Brandin Cooks, who had a 1,000-yard season but managed just one catch on seven targets in that game.
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