Dolphins vs. Jets: 7 Takeaways from Miami's 23-3 Blowout Victory over New York
The Miami Dolphins needed a win in the worst way in Week 13.
Lucky for them, their opponent was the New York Jets, a team who finally looks like the dysfunctional squad they were expected to be at the start of the season.
The Dolphins would pound the Jets 23-3, thanks in part to a great game from Ryan Tannehill, a very good game running the ball, and a defense that played its best game of the season.
It made up for some obvious flaws that, had the competition had been any stiffer, likely would've made the game hairier than it was.
The Dolphins are now 6-6 and are inching their way back into the driver's seat for the final AFC playoff spot going into a tough road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week.
But before we get to Pittsburgh, let's look at what we took away from Miami's dominating performance in the Meadowlands.
Ryan Tannehill Showed Great Improvement as the Game Went On
I wasn't a fan of Ryan Tannehill's first-half performance.
It was uneven, with plenty of underthrows, overthrows, why-did-you-throws and a couple of why-didn't-you-throws.
The results of that was a lot of yards but also a lot of points left on the board, which is why Miami only had a 6-0 lead going into halftime.
Then in the second half, Tannehill showed us why he still has believers and why his performances can be so frustrating.
He was fantastic in the second half, especially during the third quarter, where he was 6-of-7 and passed for 89 yards, two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 158.3.
Overall, Tannehill finished the game with his second-best performance as a Dolphin (yardage-wise) as he threw for 331 yards and a 94.2 passer rating.
If he duplicates that passer rating the rest of the way out this season, Miami will be a playoff team.
Miami's Running Game Woke Up
I'm more confused than anything by Miami's running game.
I thought this would be a game that saw no running at all. They couldn't run the ball this season, and were facing the best run defense in the NFL.
So how surprising was it to see the Dolphins run for 125 yards as a team?
Lamar Miller had 72 of those yards, while Ryan Tannehill contributed 22 yards on the ground.
Rookie Mike Gillislee also had some fun running the ball, running for 21 yards on six carries of his own.
Overall it was a well balanced game, which is part of the reason why Ryan Tannehill had such a good day. Miami did attempt more passing plays with 44, but they also called 36 run plays.
Those are numbers that mean success for the Dolphins.
Mike Wallace Is Finally Starting to Earn His Money
For the second straight game, Mike Wallace was gold for the Dolphins.
This despite the fact that they didn't try to air it out to him once throughout the game.
Instead he was used in different routes and seemed to be successful in each of them, catching seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Wallace has a reputation as a one-trick pony, which he will be reminded of as he returns to Pittsburgh next week.
On Sunday against the Jets, he was a jack-of-all-trades for the Dolphins, doing exactly what he was brought into Miami to do.
Want proof? Check out Brian Hartline's game: nine catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. Wallace's presence on the field had a lot to do with this, as Hartline was open underneath all game.
Miami's Offensive Line Dominates New York's Fearsome Front
On both sides of the ball, the key to victory is in the trenches.
While we'll talk about the defensive side in a little bit, let's talk about the bang-up job the offensive line did today.
It played its best game of the year.
The only sack allowed was a coverage sack in the first quarter, but after that, Tannehill had time.
With the running game, while the average wasn't great, the results in the end were, especially as the game went on.
Considering the fact that only three starters remain from the start of the season, and the fact that the entire Dolphins blind side was replaced halfway through the season, this unit has come together and improved in every game.
Considering the competition on Sunday (one of the best and most aggressive front sevens in the NFL), that's quite the accomplishment.
Miami's Defensive Line Was Dominant
We just discussed Miami's offensive line dominating in the trenches, but the defensive line did as well.
The Jets did pick up yards running the ball. Some might even say they were effective at it, running for 99 yards on 22 attempts.
But the big plays weren't there, and the Jets could only muster three points on the afternoon.
The reason for that was a poor passing game, which I'll admit would be poor against a Pop Warner League team.
That's not to take away credit from the Dolphins, who were in the pocket throughout the game.
Olivier Vernon was the defensive MVP with 2.5 sacks and 10 total tackles, but he had help from the rest of the line in what was the best game they had played all season.
Mike Sherman Still Can't Get out of His Own Way
This guy Mike Sherman knows exactly what to do to turn me into "That Guy".
Yes, I have to point out Sherman's horrendous play-calling that manged to leave at least 16 points on the board.
First things first: After a three-week absence that seemed so wonderful, the stretch play returned to the Miami Dolphins playbook, giving us failed runs on 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter and 3rd-and-goal from the one-yard line later on in that quarter.
He'd follow up that 3rd-and-goal travesty with by having the fortitude to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the one. However, he chose to go for a fade route to Charles Clay instead of using his 6'4" quarterback to run a quarterback sneak.
Against most teams, this would hurt the Dolphins. That's what we've seen in the first 11 games of the season, so Sherman should consider himself lucky that the Dolphins players executed, because his game plan for the Jets was rather poor.
Miami Is Still Alive, and That's All That Matters
Coach Joe Philbin has every reason to applaud his team against the Jets, for his team is still alive in the playoff hunt.
Miami is now tied for the final playoff spot again, and instead of definitely needing help, they only might need some help.
Other than that, their fate is in their hands.
Meanwhile, they all but eliminated their hated division rivals from the playoff race for 2013.
Considering the year they've had, you have to admit that this is pretty impressive of them.
However, I say that after every win. Next week comes a trip to Pittsburgh and a chance for the Dolphins to eliminate another team from the race while continuing to improve their chances.
Meaningful games in December are something we've wanted from the Dolphins for the last five years, and for at least one more week, we will get that.