NOTEBOOK: Lots Of Positives To Celebrate; Other Notes

Posted Oct 28, 2012

Plenty of notes and milestones for Miami in big division win

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – This was one game chock full of positives for the Dolphins as they improved to 4-3 on the season.

Statistical Milestones

Rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon scored his first career touchdown with just under four minutes left in the first quarter when he recovered Jimmy Wilson’s blocked punt in the end zone. It was the first touchdown scored off a blocked punt by Miami since last November 20th, when Lex Hilliard recovered Chris Clemons’ blocked punt against the Buffalo Bills in the end zone and it was the fourth touchdown by a defensive rookie in five seasons. Koa Misi recorded his first career touchdown when he recovered a forced fumble by Cameron Wake in the end zone at Minnesota on September 19, 2010. Then rookie Vontae Davis returned an interception 23-yards for a score against Trent Edwards and the Buffalo Bills on October 4, 2009. In 2008, then rookie Phillip Merling returned picked off a Brett Favre pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown at the New York Jets on December 28, 2008. The last defensive touchdown for Miami on a fumble recovery was November 1, 2009, when Jason Taylor returned a touchdown for 48-yards at the New York Jets. … The blocked punt by Wilson was the second of his career, with his first coming on December 11th, 2011 against the Philadelphia Eagle. He is now tied for second behind Tim Foley (1970-80) for the most career blocked punts in franchise history, … Paul Soliai’s fumble recovery after Nolan Carroll’s sack and strip was the second recovery of his career. The other one came at New England on January 2nd, 2011. … Running back Daniel Thomas scored his third rushing touchdown of the season and of his career in the second quarter. The second-year running back from Kansas State has scored in each of the last two games (today and at Cincinnati on October 7th) in which he has appeared. … Veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney caught his first pass as a Dolphin, a 30-yarder early in the second half to set up another touchdown. This was Gaffney’s first game action since being signed after the Week 3 game at Arizona. … Defensive end Cameron Wake passed Manny Fernandez on the all-time sacks list in franchise history with his sack of Sanchez in the first half and moved into 10th place with 35.5.

Turning Point

Second-year safety Jimmy Wilson followed up his sack of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez with his second career blocked punt. He timed his jump perfectly and the ball bounced right into the arms of rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon in the end zone for a touchdown that gave Miami a 10-0 lead with 3:59 left in the first quarter.

Eye In The Sky

Being as the defense pitched a shutout in the first half, it’s difficult to ignore the dominance that was created up front by the defensive line. Defensive tackles Randy Starks and Paul Soliai continuously pushed their blockers back into the pocket and forced quarterback Mark Sanchez to hurry his throws and take sacks. These two players, along with defensive ends Cameron Wake, Jared Odrick, Olivier Vernon, Tony McDaniel, Derrick Shelby and Kheeston Randall completely shut down the running game as well with constant interior pressure and covering the edges. … On the other side of the ball, Miami’s offensive line kept the pressure off of backup quarterback Matt Moore after he entered the game in place of rookie Ryan Tannehill, who was injured on New York’s lone sack of the day. They also opened holes for Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas in the ground game on some of the key scoring drives, with center Mike Pouncey setting the tone in the middle with some powerful first-level and second-level blocks. … Miami’s secondary confused Sanchez all afternoon with coverages and unconventional blitzes, leading to turnovers and failed third-down conversions.

Fantastic Fins

Safety Jimmy Wilson – The second-year safety single-handedly infused momentum into the Dolphins on back-to-back plays in the first quarter, first with a sack of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez coming clean on the blitz, and then with a blocked punt. Olivier Vernon recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown that broke the game open.

Cornerback Nolan Carroll – In his third consecutive start in place of Richard Marshall, Carroll had solid pass coverage all day and came free on a blitz to sack Sanchez late in the first quarter and knocked the ball loose. It landed in the arms of Paul Soliai at the Jets’ 32 and led to the second touchdown of the game. He also led the team with eight tackles (seven solo).

Quarterback Matt Moore – Pressed into his first action of the season after Tannehill’s leg injury in the first quarter, Moore kept the rhythm going on offense and was efficient with his passes. He completed long passes to Marlon Moore and Jabar Gaffney and also found tight end Anthony Fasano for a touchdown and finished 11-of-19 for 131 yards and a passer rating of 96.6.

Tight end Anthony Fasano – The cagey veteran had one touchdown catch and almost another one but was ruled out of bounds. He also helped out in pass protection and run blocking.

Defensive end Olivier Vernon – The rookie followed up his breakout performance against the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago with two more game-changing plays on special teams. He recovered Wilson’s blocked punt in the end zone for the first touchdown and later blocked a field goal attempt while also doing a stellar job on defense.

Punter Brandon Fields He seems to like the Meadowlands as he boomed long punt after punt to help Miami easily win the field position battle. Fields averaged 53.3 gross yards per punt and launched one 60 yards early in the fourth quarter. He also had another long one barely hit the goal line before going sideways out of bounds.

The entire coaching staff – This was the first taste of a road division game for Head Coach Joe Philbin and his staff and across the board they called an impeccable game. It started with a successful onsides kick early in the game called by special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi that helped send a message and continued with a creative defensive game plan by defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. He mixed in his blitzes well and kept the Jets guessing, and then Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman made a nice adjustment for the switch to Moore from Tannehill.

From The Locker Room

Coach Philbin on special teams…
You have to give a lot of credit to Darren Rizzi and Dave Fipp, (they had) an excellent game plan number one. Number two, the players, they obviously studied the plan, practiced the plan hard, executed it well. It was impressive to watch. There were some impressive things, no question about it. (I was) really delighted with what they did, I thought our plan was good and the execution was good.

Coach Philbin on the status of Ryan Tannehill….
I haven’t even thought (about it). I’m sure there will be some follow up but, I’m not really sure right now.

Coach Philbin on Matt Moore’s performance…
I think my comments have been consistent about Matt (Moore) since April. He’s a good football player. The guy’s a football player. (He) loves the game and (an) excellent teammate. He’s worked his tail off since the day I’ve been here. He’s impressive, I’m happy for him. I’m glad he played well. Not surprised, but happy.

QB Matt Moore on n the majority of his wins as a Dolphin being blowouts
Hey, you said it. We had unbelievable special teams play today and the defense - if you give up nine points, that’s pretty good. Our field position was unbelievable all day. It’s easy when you have it like that. I credit those guys. Obviously, the guys on the offense made a bunch of plays and put up some points. A blowout or a one-point victory, it’s the same. A win is a win.

QB Matt Moore on what the two deep catches did for his confidence…
(That was) a big time catch by Marlon (Moore). I didn’t see the end of it, but I heard it was pretty nice. I think both were on third down, so those are big plays. You keep drives alive there and I’m just happy to see guys making plays. I felt good. We put some drives together, and with those plays, we end up with points. If we don’t have those, we turn the ball over, so those are big plays in a game.


Miami plays its second straight road game at the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday at 1 p.m., at the RCA Dome.
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