It seems as if the tide is finally rising for the Fins this season.
The Miami Dolphins shut out the New York Jets by a score of 24-0 on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time the Miami defense has pitched a shutout since the 2014 season, a 37-0 thumping of the then-San Diego Chargers.
The Fins will enjoy their first winning streak of the year, victorious in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2019 season.
With this win, and the New England Patriots losing in a stunning upset against the undermanned Denver Broncos, Miami will move to second place in the AFC East heading into their much-deserved bye week.
There’s a lot to unpack from this game, but for now, here are the rapid takeaways from yet another Miami victory!
As always, questions or comments? Ask me on Twitter! @Donny_Diablo7
The Fins carried momentum into this week, getting off to a hot start in scoring three first-half touchdowns.
It was the “Myles Gaskin Show” today, as he had his number called early and often with great results. Gaskin was explosive, finishing the game with 126 all-purpose yards, the most for a Miami running back since 2018 (Kalen Ballage, 123 yards) according to Pro Football Reference.
Gaskin was vital on the Fins’ first scoring drive of the day, with three first-down touches, including a 15-yard scamper that stood as the longest Dolphins carry of the day. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick would take care of the rest, finding TE Adam Shaheen in the end zone to give the Fins a 7-0 lead they would never relinquish. It was Shaheen’s second touchdown in as many weeks for Miami.
Early on, Fitz enjoyed a myriad of success against a poor New York Jets defense, tossing short touchdowns to Shaheen, WR Preston Williams, and TE Durham Smythe. Fitz has done a great job of spreading the ball all year, and it was encouraging to see the production from the sparsely used tight ends behind Mike Gesicki.
Shaheen, in particular, had a good day, catching all three of his targets and accumulating a career-high 51 yards receiving and a TD. Much of Shaheen’s output was on a 43-yard strike in the heart of the Jets defense. It was the longest play of the day for either team, and set up Fitz’s third touchdown to fellow TE Durham Smythe.
Fitzpatrick finished 18-of-27 for 191 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Fitz has a gunslinger’s mentality, and he got greedy trying to force the ball into some tight windows.
The first interception occurred when Jets safety Brian Poole undercut a throw intended for Gesicki inside the Jets 20-yard line. Thankfully, it came with little time left in the first half, so the Jets didn’t have an opportunity to do any real damage.
The interception that followed will forever be known as the “Butt Interception,” as Jets safety Marcus Maye made an incredible play nabbing a deep ball pass intended for Preston Williams, and pinning the ball on his left buttock to keep it from touching the turf. Considering how bad the Jets offense had been to that point, the game was pretty much over, but Fitz has to know when to take chances moving forward.
With how great the offense was to start the game, the Fins had trouble putting their foot on their necks of their opponents in the second half of games in which they hold a big lead. Miami could only muster three second-half points this week, and were out-gained as a whole in team yardage.
Miami can get away with this against bad teams like the Jets, but must develop a killer instinct necessary to close games out against the better teams in the league.
Both teams seemingly forgot how to play football on third down today, as neither team converted until 10 minutes were left in the third quarter. Miami entered the game ranked 15th in third-down efficiency, converting 44% of their attempts, according to Pro Football Reference.
That being said, Miami, while not great in that department this year, certainly are much better then the third down success rate we suffered through on Sunday, suggests (4-of-13). For now, let’s chalk this up as a freak outlier rather a glaring issue.
Since 2008, QB Joe Flacco has tormented the Dolphins organization, holding a 7-0 record all-time, including the 2008 Wild Card round in his rookie year.
Enough was enough for defensive coordinator Josh Boyer and the Miami defense as they limited Flacco to just 186 yards and an interception, as well as just 93 total offensive yards in the first half. It was Flacco’s worst outing ever against Miami, aside from 2017 when he left the game early due to a concussion.
Flacco’s lone interception was ballhawking CB Xavien Howard’s league-leading fourth interception on the year. The pick was Howard’s 16th in the last 28 games he has played. The lockdown duo of Howard and CB Byron Jones has been a boon for the defense over the last two weeks, and will be pivotal for this team to contend down the stretch.
Miami is winning in the trenches on defense, and Ogbah has been at the forefront, week-in and week-out. Ogbah has registered at least one sack over the last three games for the Fins. His second sack of the day ended up being a 28-yard loss for New York, knocking them out of field goal position and preserving the shutout.
With the Jets lacking so much talent at the skill positions, it was evident WR Jamison Crowder was going to be the focal point of the New York offensive attack. Crowder was largely ineffective considering the amount of opportunities he had to touch the ball.
Crowder’s 13 targets were the most any player had for either team, and he parlayed them into just seven receptions for 48 yards, with a large chunk of that yardage coming on a 13-yard reception. Flacco often locked in on Crowder, which made it fairly simple for the defense to key on him in big passing situations.
This was evident when New York had possession inside the Miami five-yard line and were threatening to thwart the shutout late in the fourth quarter. On back-to-back plays on third and fourth down, Crowder was the first option but was smothered in coverage both times, forcing Flacco into two errant incompletions to finalize the shutout.
Another happy Sunday in South Beach.
Not only did the Fins accrue their first win against an AFC East opponent, Dolphins fans also got their first taste of fifth-overall pick QB Tua Tagovailoa. With the Fins controlling the game all afternoon, it would have been nice for “Tua Time,” to happen much earlier, but we’ll take what we can get for now.
Tua completed just 2-of-2 passes for nine yards, but just the sight of the highly-touted left-hander was cause for excitement in the Miami crowd, as well as his biggest cheerleader, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Miami already loves Tua and is starving for their first true franchise quarterback since Dan Marino. With how well Fitz has played to this point, it might be awhile before Tua takes the reigns of this offense full time. Until that point, lets enjoy the ride with “Fitzmagic” leading the charge under center.
(Featured Image Credit: Miami Dolphins)