NOTEBOOK: Run Defense Dominates Again; Other Notes

Posted Sep 16, 2012

Stout run defense strikes again.

No opposing offense has been able to figure out how to run on the Dolphins now for the equivalent of a full regular season.

By holding Raiders running back Darren McFadden under 100 yards, Miami extended its streak to 16 games accomplishing that feat, just four shy of the franchise record of 20. It’s the longest current streak in the NFL, ahead of the Chicago Bears (14), Houston Texans (11) and the Arizona Cardinals (9) and New Orleans Saints (9).

Ben Tate of the Houston Texans was the last running back to break the century mark almost a year ago in Week 2 at Sun Life Stadium when he rushed for 103 yards on 23 carries against the Dolphins.

Happy Owner

“I feel great. I mean it’s the first home opener since I’ve been around we’ve won so it’s a thrilling thing and I think it’s the first of many with Coach (Philbin). I think we’re really onto something and I’m excited about it.” – Dolphins owner Steve Ross after the game on the victory

Philbin Speaks

“I think it’s great for the entire organization. Everybody, since the day I’ve gotten here, has been 100 percent supportive, behind the program, whatever we’ve tried to do, from the ownership, to the personnel, to the administration, to the equipment, to the grounds…everybody. This is an organizational win. It’s nice. I feel happy for our players that all of their hard work and effort paid off.” – on getting the team’s first victory

“It’s good. I’m very blessed. We’ve got a tremendous staff here. They’ve worked their tail off, the guys, and the men in the locker room there, they’re outstanding. I had my entire family here today, my mom and dad and my five siblings…it was good.” – on getting doused with Gatorade at the end and experiencing his first win as a coach

“Two-hundred-yard afternoons in rushing the ball are hard to come by in this league. They’re infrequent. It says a lot, again, about what the line did, the receivers – I think the receivers did a good job. Ryan does a good job faking, running the outside zone and faking a key pass the other way and that slows the pursuit down a little bit. Like anything else, as we stress to the guys, it’s an eleven man operation, there’s no doubt about it.” – on the play of the offensive line

“It will be interesting to watch the tape on the one he broke on the short yardage play. It looked like he broke three, four, five tackles on his own, which was, obviously, a tremendous individual effort, it appears. In the second one, it was more of a team one, I think. The blocking was good and the scheme was good, and he showed enough speed to finish on the outside. Again, those give juice and energy to the whole ball club.” – on the play of Reggie Bush

“It appears, as I said to the ball club in the locker room, our identity right now is we’ve got to run the ball effectively and stop the run. We’re not a team on offense that’s going to functional really well on third and long. Defensively, we want to make people one dimensional, which we were able to do this afternoon. – on the play of the defense

From The Locker Room

“It was fun. I think that it let us know we’re going to be able to run the ball and if we do things correctly have some throws mixed in. It was a team effort on that first drive for sure. It felt like we were pretty balanced running and I was able to make a play at the end.” – rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill on what scoring a touchdown on that opening drive did for the him and the team overall

“It was a third-and-short play and we ran regular power and I ended up bouncing the ball outside and just tried to get back up the field, really. One of the things they always teach you when running the power play is never bounce the ball outside, so I actually did the opposite in bouncing the ball outside. I just tried to get back upfield as quick as possible to get that first down and I ended up breaking that tackle and I felt that the linebacker and the safety kind of overran me and the only person left was the cornerback so I was able to break his tackle and score a touchdown for us.” – Bush on his first touchdown run from 23 yards

“We did a great job of really communicating and we were able to get out there and see different looks, change plays and that’s all him. I’m not doing anything besides listening him. Again, we converse on the sidelines and talk about certain looks that we want do in a particular series but overall it’s me agreeing with what he’s doing, him agreeing with me and we’re rocking. So he did a phenomenal job.” – wide receiver Brian Hartline on why he and Tannehill were clicking so well

“A lot. We were on the sidelines cheering and screaming. It’s very huge for the offense to come out and play like this, especially in the first home game. Our whole thing is we’ve got to go out here and defend our turf, so to play like this in front of our home fans meant a lot.” – Cornerback Sean Smith on how much the play of the offense inspired the defense

“It felt very good and I was just trying to build off of what Reggie was doing. The offensive line was doing a great job giving us good looks and I had patience just letting the hole develop. On that touchdown they just opened up the hole and I ran behind them and outran everybody.” – Rookie running back Lamar Miller on his NFL debut and first touchdown

“That was amazing, man. Reggie went out there and played a great game. I think we started the slogan, ‘Run Reggie Run.’ I think we played real well up front. Reggie Bush had a great, phenomenal game. I think Ryan Tannehill stayed composed the whole game.” – center Mike Pouncey on Bush and Tannehill’s performance and the offense overall

“I was actually designed to be in the route there but I just got held up and I kind of felt that it was going to be a run early on in the play so I turned into a blocker.” – tight end Anthony Fasano on throwing the key block in the end zone to help Tannehill score

Turning Point

Reggie Bush’s 23-yard touchdown run with 7:57 left in the third quarter gave Miami the lead for good at 14-10 and swung the momentum back in the Dolphins’ favor. The way Bush bounced it into another hole and kept his balance after being hit just outside the 10 to finish off the run. It was also a precursor of things to come for Bush as he took over the game on offense.

Statistical Milestones

Bush’s 65-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter was the second longest of his career behind his 76-yarde touchdown run at Buffalo last season on December 18th, 2011. He joined Mercury Morris as the only Dolphins running backs to have two runs of 65 or more yards in his career but became the only one to score touchdowns on both of those runs. … With that run, Bush exceeded 100 yards from scrimmage for the sixth consecutive game and he established a career-high in carries with his 26th carry late in the game. … Tannehill’s 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the first rushing touchdown by a Dolphins rookie quarterback since John Beck on December 30th, 2007 against the Cincinnati Bengals on a 2-yard run. It also marked the second consecutive year Miami scored on a rushing touchdown by a quarterback on the opening drive of the home opener, with Chad Henne scoring from 9 yards out on a Monday night against New England on September 12th. … Rookie running back Lamar Miller’s 15-yard touchdown run with 5:06 left in the game was the first of his career. … Wide receiver Brian Hartline surpassed his career high for single-game receptions with his sixth catch in the third quarter. He had caught five passes five previous times, all in 2010. … Early in the fourth quarter he reached 100 receiving yards for the first time in his career with his 13-yard catch. … Punter Brandon Fields and kicker Dan Carpenter combined to allow the Dolphins to win the field position battle in the first half by forcing the Raiders to start inside their 20 on six consecutive drives. … Kicker Dan Carpenter’s 29-yard pooch punt late in the first quarter was the first punt of his career. The last time a non-punter punted for the Dolphins was kicker Olindo Mare on October 16th, 2005 at Tampa and it was an 8-yarder.

Eye in the Sky

Much like in the Week 1 game at Houston, the left side of the offensive line established an early dominance in the running game by opening holes for Reggie Bush. Center Mike Pouncey, left guard Richie Incognito and left tackle Jake Long kept it going for rookie Lamar Miller, who gained 25 yards on his first four carries. … Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle made a nice adjustment at halftime in order to put more pressure on Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer by disguising his blitzes and finding ways to create more pressure from the interior. Defensive tackle Randy Starks got to Palmer a few times just as he released the ball and safety Reshad Jones also disrupted his rhythm on occasion. … Safety Jimmy Wilson took over at cornerback for the injured Richard Marshall in the second half and held his own, breaking up a potential touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey on a fade pass from Palmer in the right corner of the end zone. … Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman freed up Tannehill in the second half to counter Oakland’s pass rush by calling designed rollouts for him and it proved to be effective.

Fantastic Fins

Running back Reggie Bush: With fresh legs throughout the game courtesy of timely substitutions with Miller, Bush looked unstoppable as he ran away from defenders on both if his long touchdown runs of 23 and 65 yards.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill: He bounced back with flying colors after throwing three interceptions in his NFL debut last week at Houston by not turning the ball over at all and engineering a potent offense.

Wide Receiver Brian Hartline: Hartline established himself early as Tannehill’s go-to receiver and finished with career highs in receptions with nine and receiving yards with nine.

Punter Brandon Fields: In a battle of field position the Dolphins won hands down thanks to Fields’ four punts inside the 20 and his lengthy kicks chasing the Raiders’ Phillip Adms back all afternoon

Dolphins offensive line: Not only did the front five give Tannehill time to throw the ball most of the afternoon, but it was behind them that Miami rolled for 259 yards on the ground


Miami hosts the AFC East rival New York Jets next Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.
Game Pass: Miami Dolphins