NOTEBOOK: Defense Regains Identity As Playmakers; Other Notes

Posted Oct 31, 2013

From strip sacks to interceptions to safeties, Coyle’s crew delivered.

The Cincinnati Bengals were coming off of a 49-9 thrashing of the New York Jets and quarterback Andy Dalton was polishing his AFC Offensive Player of the Month award when they ran into a Miami Dolphins defense determined to prove their worth.

By game’s end, Dalton had turned the ball over four times – three through the air in the form of interceptions by cornerbacks Dimitri Patterson and Brent Grimes and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. His fourth turnover was created by two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake in the first quarter when he powered his way around the edge, swatted the ball out of Dalton’s hand and fell on it for a fumble recovery at the Cincinnati 25.

That was a sign of things to come, with Grimes seemingly breaking the game open in the third quarter when he jumped the route run by Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones, picked off the pass at his own 6 and sped the other way 94 yards for his first career touchdown. It was his biggest play for Miami since intercepting an Andrew Luck pass in the end zone late in a 24-20 win in Week 2 and his defensive teammates were thrilled to see the entire unit pick up its level of play.

“The turnovers, that was our main thing was getting turnovers and try to stop their offense,” said defensive tackle Paul Soliai, who had three tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit and one pass breakup. “They were coming off of a big win against the Jets where they scored a lot and we thought if we just played physical up front we’d win the game. The way we played tonight was just something. We were all shocked. All the way into the overtime we still worked hard and we didn’t give up on one play. That was one of the toughest games I ever played.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin definitely appreciated the play of the defense and specifically the turnovers that were created. Miami finished with a plus-3 turnover ratio and of course converted one of them into seven points in a game where every point mattered.

After seeing opposing defenses come up with those plays against his offense in recent weeks during the four-game losing streak, Philbin was more than happy to see it go the other way.

“Takeaways are a huge part of what we do on defense,” Philbin said. “As I tell the players all the time, the things that you invest your time in on the practice field have to show up on the game tape. Today, it was great to see that we took the ball away and I believe we only had one on offense, that one fumble. But that was positive.”

Miami now has 11 interceptions through eight games, one more than the defense recorded all of last season in 16 games.

Turning Point

As many twists and turns as this game had, there can only be one defining moment and that clearly was Wake’s sack for a safety on Dalton. It was after midnight and everyone’s legs were tired – except Wake’s on that third-and-10 when he stunted inside and took advantage of the push created by defensive tackle Jared Odrick to blast Dalton at the goal line and plant him in the end zone.

Of course the celebration was delayed by a replay review to confirm that it indeed was a safety and that the ball wasn’t down at the 1. It didn’t take the referee long to declare the game over, as well as Miami’s four-game losing streak and Cincinnati’s four-game winning streak.

Statistical Milestones

Grimes’ 94-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter was not only the first of his career but it also was the fourth longest in team history behind Louis Oliver’s 103-yarder at Buffalo on October 4th, 1992, Brock Marion’s 100-yarder against Buffalo on January 6th, 2002 and Dick Anderson’s 95-yarder at Boston on November 24th, 1968. … Wake’s second sack of Dalton in the second quarter gave him 11 multi-sack games in his career and two this season. … Ellerbe’s interception was the second of his career in the regular season. … Patterson’s fourth interception of the season tied his career high for a single season set back in 2010 when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. … Running back Lamar Miller tied his career-high in rushing yards for a game in the first half with 89 and went on to break it with 16 more rushing yards in the second half. … Quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s 1-yard touchdown run in the first half was the third rushing touchdown of his career. … This was only the third time in league history that a game in overtime ended on a safety. The other two times this happened was when the Minnesota Vikings defeated the St. Louis Rams, 23-21, on November 5th, 1989 and when the Chicago Bears defeated the Tennessee Titans, 19-17, on November 14th, 1994.


The Dolphins travel upstate to Tampa in 10 days to take on the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football on November 11th.

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