The 2017 version of the Miami Dolphins have been an aberration. A team unable to convincingly win a game, while also being a team you can’t count out regardless of fourth quarter deficit.
After rallying back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit, the Dolphins extended their winning streak in one possession games to 12 on the back of a heroic performance by Matt Moore and the defense. While some may view this stat as an anomaly, the consistency in which the ‘Fins have been able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat proves otherwise. Although the roster isn’t the most talented, it’s hard to argue the Dolphins aren’t one of the clutchest teams in the league.
One of the main takeaways from the game was the encouraging play from Matt Moore, who came in to relieve Jay Cutler midway through the third quarter. Moore finished the night 13 of 21 for 188 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. While his stats were solid, they weren’t truly indicative of how well he performed.
His lone pick came on his first drive of the game, before he knocked off the rust that comes with not having played a meaningful snap all season. Once he settled in he was able to consistently push the ball down the field, something the Dolphins offense has been lacking all season.
With Cutler, who had a solid game before the injury, expected to miss 2-3 weeks with cracked ribs, Moore will have the opportunity to impress head coach Adam Gase and win the starting job for the remainder of the season. If Moore performs well against the Ravens on Thursday, and the Dolphins win, Gase will be hard-pressed to give the reins back to Cutler.
One negative aspect for the Dolphins offense on Sunday, and the majority of the season, was the offensive lines play. Despite the insistence on running the ball, Jay Ajayi was held to 2.2 yards per attempt on 23 carries. The offensive lines putrid performance also affected the passing game as they allowed 3 sacks and 16 quarterback pressures throughout the game. Clearly the Jets were committed to keeping Ajayi bottled up, as the Dolphins are at their best when he gets going.
On the defensive side of the ball the team put together one of it’s worst performances of the season. After shutting out Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the second half, Josh McCown and the typically uninspiring Jets offense had its way with the Dolphins defense for much of the game.
Matt Forte looked like he turned back the clock five years, consistently gaining chunk yardage seemingly every time he touched the ball. Jermaine Kearse and the Jets receivers continually found openings in the secondary, allowing McCown to complete 17 of 27 passes for 209 yards, three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground.
When it mattered most, however, the Dolphins defense tightened. Cornerback Bobby McCain made the play of the game when undercut Jermaine Kearse’s route and intercepted McCown deep in Jets territory with less than a minute left in the fourth.
Throughout the game Lawrence Timmons’ play stood out. He swarmed the ball constantly and proved that he is by far the best linebacker of the group. Cameron Wake recorded 2.5 sacks and continues to prove that his game is like a fine red wine; it just gets better with age.
Overall, the Dolphins’ issues have remained the same throughout the season and will most likely continue to. The offensive line is what it is; a mediocre group. The secondary has a chance to get better, with T.J. McDonald returning in Week 10.
Thursday’s bout against the Ravens carries playoff implications for the Dolphins, despite it being relatively early in the season. With one of the toughest schedule in the league, if the team could extend its record to 5-2 they would have some leeway throughout the remainder of the season.