As I pointed out in my game preview, I was not my usual self in the upcoming days leading to the Dolphins-Raiders game. The Dolphins seemed like they were flat, and falling apart. But boy did they look the exact opposite of the team that played the Chicago Bears a mere 10 days ago.
The Dolphins offense and defense seemed to be rolling on all cylinders today, even with stars Brandon Marshall out, and Karlos Dansby limited with turf toe and a wrist injury.
A Dolphins offense that usually struggles to hit the big plays, finally hit the jackpot, with 7 plays that churned out more than 20 yards on the play. And all of that was without their main offensive weapon this season, Marshall.
It seemed today that when Dan Henning had to get more creative with Marshall out, and inexperienced receivers in Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace active, Henning stepped up to the plate.
So the question is why have we not seen this type of play all season? Why have we not seen the original Wildcat all season, you know, where the quarterback is actually on the field? Today the Dolphins ran plays out of the Wildcat formation a season high 12 times. And for the most part it worked, and was a big part in why the Dolphins got their running game back on track, rushing for a combined total of 186 yards.
Miami nevertheless stepped up their play, and showed me something in todays game. They showed resilience. They showed determination. And most of all they showed grit. The Raiders may be 5-6 now, but they are still no slouch. They came into todays game boasting one of the leagues best rushing attacks, with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. The Dolphins defense held those two to 3 yards on 9 attempts, and the Raiders rushing attack as a whole to only 16 total rushing yards!
The player of the game though was not anyone on the Dolphins defense, but Chad Henne. Yes, the same guy who has been mediocre all season long, and has never single-handidly led the Dolphins to a victory all by himself. Well, today Henne showed us his true potential in throwing for 307 yards, two touchdowns, with only one interception. Henne finished the day on a 17/30 throwing work-day. Not too shabby for someone who was coming off of a displaced knee cap.
But it was not all Henne though that showed that he has something left to say before we write him off. Ricky Williams finished the day with 95 rushing yards on 20 attempts, and a 45 yard touchdown run. Ronnie Brown also had 85 yards on 24 carries. It looked like the Dolphins were re-committing themselves to the run today, finally.
Ball-control wise the Dolphins dominated the time of possession, controlling the ball a grand total of 41:38, compared to the Raiders 18:22. The only other time that I have saw our Dolphins offense control the ball like this was last year during the Colts-Monday Night game, and we all remember how that turned out. This time the Dolphins completely wore down the Raiders defense, and thus dominated the outcome of the game.
After todays showing there is simply no excuse for the Dolphins to go back to their mediocre offensive play. We all know now that we have witnessed an all around thrashing, that the Dolphins have what it takes to put down the teams that are deferior to them. Coming into this game we all were wondering where exactly our team was at in terms of potential and what heights this team could get to. Well after this game we all have our answer. This Dolphins team has some massive potential. When Henne is given the chance to make some plays downfield, he showed he can make them. When the running game is on a role, when we actually emphasize it, we can control the pace of the game, and most importantly, we learned today that our defense is stingy. They shutdown the Raiders run game completely and made Oakland one-dimensional. All around this was one of the Dolphins’ best wins of the season, right up there with the Minnesota win in my mind. Now if they can capitalize off of that, and take their momentum back home to play the Cleveland Browns next week, this week can really be used as a major building block.
- The Dolphins converted only their second 4th down conversion all season with a 4th and short situation today against the Raiders, with a run up the gut to fullback Lousaka Polite.
- Cameron Wake registered his 10.5 sack this season in the second half today. His total leads the AFC in sacks, and Wake only trails the Packers Clay Matthews, who had 11.5 going into todays game.
- The Dolphins defense forced three total turnovers today, with a fumble recovery and interception by Yeremiah Bell, and an interception in the endzone by Chris Clemons. The defense was all over the field making plays all day.
- Davone Bess finished the day with 111 yards on 9 catches, and was the Dolphins leading receiver today.
- Dan Carpenter was unusually inaccurate today, missing 2/6 field goals. He did make four though, so there is no reason to complain.
- In only his second game active, Marlon Moore made an impression, turning a comeback route into a 57 yard touchdown. That’s the big play capability that the coaching staff is looking for. It was only his third career reception in the NFL.
Overall I was very impressed with the win today. Despite what some may say, the Raiders are no pushovers and like the rest of the other teams, have their strengths and weaknesses. It just so happened this week that the Dolphins exploited Oakland’s weaknesses to a “T”. When most were questioning the gameplanning capability of this coaching staff, they showed they shouldn’t be doubted, at least for another week at least, and that they can at least out-think the other team once in awhile. Hopefully this trend continues for the rest of the season. Next week the Cleveland Browns travel to Miami to face the Dolphins, in what will be a tough game nevertheless.