You know it's a fun season when each week the "first time since…" category gets updated. This time around, the Dolphins achieved a 9-3 start for the first time since 2001. The 30-point margin of victory was the largest for Miami in a road game since 1978.
The Dolphins are now 2-0 post-Thanksgiving with a cumulative score of 79-28. If the goal was to hit peak stride in the calendar's final month, Miami is well on its way. Here are three takeaways from Miami 45, Washington 15.
1. Bombs away
Last week at MetLife Stadium, the Dolphins punctuated a runaway victory with a nine-minute drive. That march highlighted Miami's ability to out-physical a team known for its brand of tough ball. At FedExField on Sunday, Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense showed you why they lead the league in so many categories.
Tagovailoa uncorked two long balls to Tyreek Hill on a pair of third downs that produced two touchdowns and re-wrote some of the Dolphins record book. For Hill, he's the only player to have two receptions of 60-plus yards in a game in an NFL game this season. And he's done it twice. He's the only NFL player since at least 1978 to accomplish that feat.
It was Hill's eighth game with 100 receiving yards this season, tying Mark Duper's franchise record set back in 1986. With 100 yards next week against the Titans, Hill would break that franchise record and tie another one, with Irving Fryar for the most consecutive 100-yard games (four).
It takes two to tango, and Tagovailoa had his dancing shoes on. He averaged 1.18 expected points added per play, the most by a quarterback in a game this season. His ability to navigate the pocket (no sacks and two QB hits despite another week of shuffling offensive lineman), helped Miami produce 38 offensive points on just nine possessions.
Nobody has produced more on throws of 20-plus air yards. He leads the NFL with 901 yards and nine touchdowns on deep passes.
"The depth perception that Tua has down the field is pretty rare, so he can really feel when a post-safety is not at the depth they need to be," Head Coach Mike McDaniel said. "For him to be able to do that under a hair of duress is why he's doing some special stuff on the football field."
2. Van Ginkel leads smothering defensive effort
The last time the Miami defense surrendered more than 17 points was October 22 in Philadelphia (Kansas City's defensive score game them 21 total). The red-hot streak has seen the Dolphins climb to the top of the leaderboards in several categories, specifically with their pass rush.
Three more sacks on Sunday gives Miami 41 on the season, tied for third in the league. The 90 quarterback hits trail only the San Francisco 49ers. Andrew Van Ginkel was in a starring role once again with one of those sacks, but it was his interception returned for a touchdown that flipped the game on its head.
Van Ginkel has three touchdowns in his NFL career, and he's changed the route each time. He's scored on a punt block recovery, a fumble recovery, and now the first pick-six of his career.
The Dolphins are now sixth in total defense and are allowing just 22.2 points per game.
3. Clean operation
The Dolphins' three losses this season have shared a common theme. Each have occurred against some of the NFL's best teams, and away from Hard Rock Stadium. In those games, Miami amassed 24 penalties for 213 yards and turned the ball over four times. With six giveaways in the last two games, both victories, it was fair to wonder if Miami could clean it up.
That question was answered in resounding fashion. Miami was penalized only two times for 15 yards and did not commit a turnover. We've seen how capable this Miami team is when the self-inflicted wounds aren't hindering the NFL's most exciting offense. They scored 38 points on nine possessions in this game.
It's the second time this season Miami didn't turn the ball over. They are averaging 57.5 points per game in which they don't turn the ball over.
For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.