All season long the Dolphins were a team that had issues coming up with key turnovers. Sunday, the team finally got them, getting two huge turnovers in Sunday’s 20-9 victory against the Washington Redskins.
Linebacker Karlos Dansby had a big fourth quarter interception. The play was key in helping Miami win its second straight game after losing the first seven.
“This is two games in a row here where we didn’t all them to score (a touchdown),” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. “Kind of bent, didn’t break, came up with some big plays ? Karlos’ play was a huge play down there.”
Reggie Bush scored two TDs and the Dolphins used the two picks to earn their first home victory in nearly a year. The Dolphins (2-7) ended a franchise-record streak of seven consecutive losses in Miami since last Nov. 14. They won for the second week in a row after starting 0-7.
The Redskins (3-6) dropped their fifth consecutive game, the longest losing streak of Mike Shanahan’s career as a head coach. They haven’t held a lead since Oct. 2, when they beat St. Louis.
“It’s frustrating being 3-6,” starting QB Rex Grossman said. “We’re better than that.”
Grossman threw for 215 yards but was sacked three times and had a passer rating of 58.7, lower than his NFC-worst season figure.
Possessions by Washington reached the Miami 20, 26, 5 and 10-yard lines, but those threats produced only three field goals.
Grossman was a surprise starter, replacing John Beck four weeks after being benched. Shanahan said he decided to go with the more experienced quarterback because of a wave of injuries to the Redskins’ offense.
“I thought Rex gave us a chance to win,” Shanahan said. “If you have this many guys go down, I didn’t want to go with the inexperienced guy and throw him to the wolves.”
The Dolphins led 10-6 at halftime, then mounted scoring drives of 70 and 81 yards to seal the win. After blowing fourth-quarter leads in three earlier losses, this time they held on.
“The first seven games we were kind of in disarray,” Bush said. “We were trying to find our identity. The difference now is we’re playing 60 minutes and finishing at the end of games.”
Miami was clinging to a 13-9 lead when Grossman drove his team 49 yards to a first down at the 10 early in the fourth quarter. He then threw a pass directly to linebacker Karlos Dansby, whose interception ended the threat.
“I have to be more careful in a crucial point in the game,” Grossman said.
Vontae Davis also had an interception for the Dolphins, who doubled their season total.
After Dansby’s takeaway, Miami drove 81 yards and scored the clinching TD on Bush’s 18-yard run. He crossed the goal line standing up and heaved the ball into the stands in jubilation.
“We made plays that winners make at the end,” Sparano said.
The Redskins’ three scoring drives totaled only 48 yards. They twice took over deep in Miami territory thanks to an interception and a fumble recovery, but each time settled for a field goal by Graham Gano.
He also missed from 50 and 49 yards, and Washington netted only 61 yards rushing.
Miami’s Matt Moore, the AFC offensive player of the week last week, threw an ugly interception and lost a fumble but completed 20 of 29 passes for 209 yards. The Dolphins, who came into the game last in the NFL in third-down conversions, went 8 for 14 in those situations.
They started the game in the wildcat — the first time they’ve used the package this season. Running back Daniel Thomas took the snap and pitched to Moore, who threw deep and incomplete to Brandon Marshall.
Miami tried another trick play later in the drive, with Thomas throwing incomplete. More conventional was the final play of the series, a 1-yard touchdown run by Bush.
After that, Sparano went conservative. The Dolphins drew boos when they ran out the clock at the end of the first half rather than trying to score.
But nursing the early lead paid off because the Redskins couldn’t cash in on their chances.
Kevin Barnes’ interception in the first half gave the Redskins the ball at the Miami 5, but three plays lost 3 yards and they kicked a field goal. Washington started at the Miami 24 after Ryan Kerrigan’s sack forced a fumble by Moore, and again the Redskins came away with only three points.
“You get into the red zone three times, you’ve got to make plays to win the game,” Shanahan said.
Dansby, Jason Taylor and Jared Odrick had the Dolphins’ sacks. Taylor increased his career total to 135½, most among active players.