This afternoon at Sun Life Stadium, the Miami Dolphins in front of a sparse home crowd of nearly 50,000 beat a San Diego Chargers team seeking a chance at the playoffs. Given that the Dolphins had been embattled over the weekend after learning that their offensive line would lose center Mike Pouncey to gall bladder and kidney issues, the Dolphins found a way to win.
In the closing seconds with only 7 seconds to go, inside the Dolphins 30 yard line, Phillip Rivers lofted a high spiraling pass only for cornerback Brent Grimes to get up and knock the ball away thus ending the game and sealing the win for Miami.
One of the things that stood out for Miami, that despite a makeshift line of Sam Brenner (undrafted rookie from Utah) at left guard, Nate Garner at Center (first start at this position in the NFL ever), the Dolphins looked quicker inside, helped provide second level blocking on big runs by Daniel Thomas. For some reason, with Brenner in there, who was starting his first NFL game, the Dolphins looked solid upfront, disciplined, and like an offensive line that had been playing more than just one game together.
No matter the rotations that the offensive line have had of new players the past few weeks, the right mix might have been found today at left guard and at center. Despite Mike Pouncey's impromptu illness, the Dolphins persevered and showed resiliency getting a critical win to vault upward to 5-5 on the season.
The big plays that had to be made in the closing seconds didn't come offensively. In fact, Ryan Tannehill had the ball in his hands trying to kill to clock right before the two minute drill and appeared to have found something with Brian Hartline and Charles Clay today. However, as the Dolphins called for a roll out to the left with blockers in front, Tannehill chose to take a cheap sack and run out of bounds instead of staying in bounds to force the Chargers to use there last and final time out.
Surely, the move proved risky at the time because it gave Phillip Rivers 2:08 with a timeout to lead the Chargers back. However, Tannehill might have made a wise decision instead of turning the ball over and making the safe play, a scramble out of bounds. Truly, Tannehill made a play that most fans were angry about until the Dolphins got one last play from their defense with Brett Grimes, thus vindicating Tannehill and giving the home crowd something to sing about.
Looking at the stats today, Tannehill was 22-35, 1 TD, and 1 INT and 268 yards passing with a 84.0 rating. As an offense, the Dolphins amassed 36 first downs passing and rushing which allowed for running 58 plays on a time of possession of 28:36.
An improvement compared to last week was the running game showed some productivity with team rushing at 104 yards. Daniel Thomas led the way with 57 yards rushing, a long run of 11 yards, and a goal line touchdown, his third of the year.
In addition, the Dolphins defense lead by Olivier Vernon in tackles (6) and a sack helped get Phillip Rivers out of his element. Vernon got considerable pressure on Rivers even though it was almost a big play for a touchdown. Vernon, although statistically he's been inconsistent, has shown he play and start in the NFL and the former third round pick saved today for his best performance.
All in all, the Dolphins got the win they desperately neeeded. Next week, they will face the Carolina Panthers and once again will be facing another great and talented QB in Cam Newton and a defense that is one of the best in the NFL. Since the Dolphins are back in the playoff picture at 5-5, it should be noted that Dolphins fans in and around the area will be more noticeably cheery this week and that's not a bad thing especially after losing to a bad Bucs team last week.