Defense Leads The Charge In Dolphins' 23-10 Opening Day Win

Posted Sep 8, 2013

Six sacks and three turnovers key impressive road win for Miami at the Browns.

It was no secret that the defense for the Miami Dolphins was a strength coming into the 2013 season and that unit held up its end today in a season-opening 23-10 win at the Cleveland Browns.

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake picked up where he left off last season with 2.5 sacks of Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, almost half of Miami’s six sacks on the day. He is coming off a season when he dropped the opposing quarterback 15 times and that was after going without a sack for the first three games, so he didn’t waste any time this year.

“We probably had the longest preseason in the NFL and we had this game kind of marked off on our calendar for a very long time,” said Wake, who now has 30.5 sacks on the road in his career. “Our game plan was real simple, obviously to get after the run so that you can get teams in those third-and-long situations and then you’ve got to get after it. Those guys on the back end were doing their job making the quarterback hold the ball and we just had to do our part up front and get after the quarterback.”

Wake’s fellow defensive teammates came up with three interceptions – two by cornerback Dimitri Patterson and one by cornerback Nolan Carroll. There were other tipped balls and chances for even more turnovers, including when defensive end Derrick Shelby recorded his first career sack and stripped the ball of Weeden only to see Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas recover it for the Browns.

“I thought our guys did a good job and we were able to win the turnover margin, which is something we’ve been preaching and talking about for a long time,” Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “It’s going to be important for the way we are as a football team and it’s got to be a constant.”

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his crew found their rhythm in the second half as the second-year starter finished the day completing 24-of-38 passes for 272 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Brian Hartline caught the 34-yard scoring pass and was his leading receiver with nine catches for 114 yards.

But with Browns cornerback Joe Haden locking down speedster Mike Wallace and holding him to one catch for 15 yards, Hartline and the other key pieces to the passing game needed to step up. Brandon Gibson, who came over from the St. Louis Rams, caught seven passes for 77 yards, including a 24-yarder on the second touchdown drive, and tight end Charles Clay added five catches for 54 yards.

“They came out and played a little differently than we expected them to,” said Tannehill, who enjoyed the third best passing day of his career. “The first game of the year we didn’t know exactly how they were going to play us. We knew their coordinator from last year but they kept base on the field and that was the change-up we really weren’t expecting coming into the game.

“So it took us just a little bit to get adjusted to that and I feel like once we did the offensive line did a good job in the second half of picking up their pressures and handling the rush and we were able to get the ball outside and move the ball down the field. By them taking (Wallace) away it really opened up Gibson, Hartline and even Clay, so it was frustrating for Mike but at the same time others stepped up.”

Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis had a nice debut going 3-for-3 on field goals with kicks of 36, 45 and 49 yards and booming his kickoffs into the end zone all afternoon. Punter Brandon Fields, who led the league last year with a net 50.2 average, had a 66-yarder and averaged 47.6 yards on five punts with two landing inside the 20.

Now the Dolphins head back out on the road next Sunday to Indianapolis to face the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in an attempt to win their first two games on the road for the first time since 2009.

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