Sept. 11, 2005) -- The Dolphins
sure didn't look like teams that combined to go 6-26 in 2004.
In Miami, up was down, in was out, green meant stop, red meant go -- and Chris Chambers
led all rushers in the game with 61 yards. One rushing attempt, 61 yards. That's a heck of a per-carry average for a wide receiver.
The offense had all the right calls, including some tricky plays like the one that sprung Chambers on a double reverse. The unit kept the Broncos defense on the field a lot longer than it wanted to be, and at one point in the second half, the Dolphins had run 20 more offensive plays than Denver. And that Miami defense. It kept the opposing runners in check, as Tatum Bell
and Mike Anderson
were held to 52 yards on 15 carries. Jake Plummer
was forced to throw the ball 48 times with minimal success down the stretch.
Most importantly, that toughness head coach Nick Saban wanted to instill hit the Broncos right in the face. The final score was 34-10
, but it might not have even been that close.
"He came in and did things his way," tight end Randy McMichael
said. "And his way works."
Miami has had a solid, if not pretty good, defense for a while now. Even last year, the unit was ranked eighth in the league in yards allowed per game and kept the team in most contests before the offense sputtered. And against the Broncos, the defense came up biggest when it was needed. Three second-half takeaways killed any momentum Denver seemed to get. The biggest statement of them all was on the last play of the game. With Denver about to go in from the 6-yard line, Jason Taylor
sacks Plummer, knocks the ball loose, scoops it up and runs 85 yards unscathed for the final points.
Maybe the Dolphins just played dead in the preseason, maybe they didn't want to give anything away too early, maybe they underachieved, or maybe Saban got his team together at the right time. Any way you look at it, Miami was disciplined and balanced for the most part. Thirty-six passes and 33 rushes, 32:18 in time of possession, and 8 for 15 on third-down conversions. The only exceptions were 11 penalties for 69 yards and three turnovers.
But Saban will fix that, no doubt.