Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dolphins flip switch in second half to upset Patriots


One game won't prove that the Miami Dolphins are ready to displace the New England Patriots atop the AFC East division.

But as far as statements go, Sunday's season opener was as bold as it gets for the upstart Dolphins.

When the Patriots built a 20-10 halftime lead, it seemed business-as-usual in the traditionally lopsided rivalry. But a dominant defensive performance and a steady second half effort from quarterback Ryan Tannehill fueled a Dolphins rally, and Miami registered an impressive 33-20 victory.

Miami defensive end Cameron Wake forced two Tom Brady fumbles as a part of a terrorizing, four-sack performance by the Dolphins defense that held New England to just 67 second half yards.

"I thought we really controlled the tempo in the second half," head coach Joe Philbin said after the game, according to the team website. "Our defense stepped up, our line stepped up and we made some plays."

After three turnovers of their own in the first half, the Dolphins offense also found its stride in the back half of the game, compiling 223 yards and racking up 23 points to close out the game.

Leading the way was newly acquired tailback Knowshon Moreno, exploding for 134 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Miami's 191 total rushing yards was more than they had in any game in 2013.

“Once you get that running game going they’re going to wear down," Dolphins center Samson Satele said, via Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post. "It happened. We could’ve had 200 yards.”

The balance helped Ryan Tannehill, who, after a few shaky first half throws that included a brutal interception, calmly led the offense's second half turnaround.

The early struggles were more attributable to execution, rather than gameplan or talent, according to Joe Philbin.

"What I said to the offense [at halftime] was that I felt we had some plays we didn't make in the first half," he said. "I just told them that the plays were there and we had to make them when they presented themselves. I feel like we did that."

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