By Dylan Ashcraft Editor
Well, that certainly was not how we expected it to happen.
The Miami Dolphins absolutely dismantled the visiting Los Angeles Rams at Hard Rock Stadium 28-17 in week 8, successfully advancing to 4-3 in a tight AFC race. Much like the 26-0 victory over the New York Jets two weeks prior, the score does not quite indicate how decisive of a win this was for the aqua and orange. Out to a big lead early, Miami was able to pin their ears back and attack Jared Goff with a multitude of pressure while leaving the Rams receivers man-on-man.
Coming off the bye week the Dolphin defense looked fresh, promptly getting off the field after forcing Goff to start his long day with three incompletions. Fins fans everywhere thought they were in for a long day, however, when newly implemented quarterback Tua Tagovailoa fumbled the ball away on his first dropback after getting his arm swatted by the infamous Aaron Donald. Three consecutive runs later, and it was 7-0 Rams. Miami’s next two offensive possessions ended in punts, garnering valid concern from fans everywhere.
Thank God for the aforementioned fresh defense.
Dolphins 2019 first round selection and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins showed off his unhuman athleticism by dropping back into coverage and intercepting Goff on the fourth play of the Rams next drive, giving Tua and the offense a short field to work with. The offense did not let the opportunity go to waste, tying the ballgame 7-7 as the first quarter expired. Still, the offense did little to inspire confidence as Myles Gaskin fumbled on the next Miami possession, giving LA the ball back at the Dolphins’ seven yard line. Poised to punch in a perceived easy six points, the Rams offense failed to account for one critical defender: Emanuel Ogbah.
All said and done, the Miami defense turned over Goff and the Rams four times; twice via interceptions by way of Wilkins and Rowe, and two sacks resulting in forced fumbles by Ogbah and Shaq Lawson respectively. Giving the offense a short field resulted in two offensive touchdowns to pair with Van Ginkel’s 78-yard fumble recovery scoop-and-score and Jakeem Grant’s subsequent 88-yard punt return score. The fast start would wind up being critical to the win, as the Dolphins wouldn’t sniff the endzone after halftime.
Contrary to how spry the defense looked, the Dolphins offense looked like they had a new quarterback or something…
Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami offense were extra thankful for the defensive and special teams in this first game of November. Running a mere 48 plays to the opponent’s 92, 11 of the Fin’s 13 offensive possessions ended in punts or turnovers. With a big lead early, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey called a very conservative gameplan for the rookie signal caller with his first professional start coming against the stout Rams defense. Tua would finish the day a modest 12-22 passing for 93 yards and a one touchdown-an absolute laser to Devante Parker in the first quarter.
Los Angeles was the most formidable defense Miami has faced to date, and it showed in the offense’s inability to consistently move the ball. With the 2020 squad showing they can play complimentary football, however, it wound up being a mute point. Still, expect Tua and the offense to dissect this film and improve moving forward. If both sides of the ball can click cohesively and consistently, The NFL better watch out. This team isn’t just improved from 2019; that was a low bar to hurdle. This Dolphins squad is actually a good football team.
Up next on Miami’s docket: a road trip to visit the 5-2 Arizona Cardinals fresh off a bye of their own; a very different opponent to that of the Rams. Let’s see how the boys in aqua and orange can adapt and continue their hot streak. Fins up!
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