With the Miami Dolphins‘ offense not able to have much success outside of running the ball, it was critical that the defense try and create turnovers and if at all possible, turn those turnovers into defensive points. Last night, the Dolphins’ defense did exactly that — they put the game on their shoulders and did everything they could do to take the game out of the hands of the offense and win it themselves.
The player of the game award should certainly go to Cameron Wake. Early in the first quarter, he was able to sack, force a fumble and recover it to send the message that the Dolphins came to play. All game long, the defensive line was able to apply pressure to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and forced him into many third-and-long situations.
What almost killed the Dolphins tonight was the fact that despite coming up with stops and limiting the Bengals’ rushing attack, the Bengals converted on 10-of-22 third downs — and half of them were in situations of 10 yards or more. To the credit of the Dolphins’ defense though, they were able to come up with interceptions when their backs were up against the wall, and did a tremendous job of keeping a high-powered Bengals offense out of the end zone.
The second-most important play of the game for the Dolphins came on Brent Grimes’s 94-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Dolphins’ offense was forced to punt repeatedly despite how well Lamar Miller was running the ball.
Though Ryan Tannehill did not turn the ball over tonight, the Bengals’ defense did a really good job of preventing the big play and just seemed to absorb whatever damage was done on the ground by the Miami running attack of Miller and Daniel Thomas. Because the offense was ineffective, the Grimes interception turned out to be the only Dolphins touchdown outside of Tannehill’s one-yard rush in the second quarter.
No play was bigger than the Wake walk-off sack in overtime. With the Bengals’ offense pinned back deep and the clock running out of time, Dalton looked to convert once again to keep the drive alive. Wake was able to explode off the edge and sack Dalton into the end zone just before he was able to tuck the ball back in front of it. It led to the Miami Dolphins bouncing back with a victory despite blowing another 17-3 second-half lead in consecutive games.