Dolphins' defense shines in comeback win over Falcons

Playing their first game in 14 days, the Atlanta Falcons (3-2) looked rusty on Sunday, allowing the Miami Dolphins (3-2) to rip off 20 straight points en route to a much-needed 20-17 victory. Here's what we learned from Miami's comeback win:

  1. When Falcons wideout Marvin Hall -- inked this week off the practice squad -- blew past Dolphins cover man Xavien Howard for a 40-yard, first-quarter touchdown, the Falcons looked ready to explode on offense. It was not to be, however, as Atlanta watched a 17-0 halftime lead fizzle away in spectacular fashion. Credit goes to an edgy Dolphins defense that bottled up Matt Ryan down the stretch and won the game with a final-minute Reshad Jones pick of the Falcons quarterback. It was a performance that raised suspicion about the once-high-flying Atlanta offense. After a quick start, Ryan and company managed zero points over their final five drives. A rash of ugly penalties, shoddy pass protection and a botched snap on a fourth-quarter punt all contributed to Atlanta's swoon.
  1. Miami's offense was unwatchable out of the gate with Jay Cutler at the controls. The air attack, especially, showed zero rhythm during a terrible first half, but the veteran quarterback authored his best two quarters of the season with four second-half scoring drives. The comeback truly took hold in the third quarter after a Cutler interception was wiped out by a devastating roughing the passer call on Atlanta's Grady Jarrett, a penalty that set the table for a Jarvis Landry touchdown catch that cut Atlanta's lead to 17-14. Cutler (19-of-33 passing for 151 yards with two scores and a pick) also strung together a lengthy touchdown drive to open the second half and made a handful of key completions over the final two quarters. None of this erases concerns over Cutler's fit in Miami, but the 'Fins are somehow 3-2 after a drama-filled start to the campaign.
  1. The Dolphins effectively bottled up Devonta Freeman for much of the first half before the Falcons runner blasted his way for a 44-yard gain that set up a short Tevin Coleman touchdown run. Allowing just 75.5 rushing yards per game, Miami's defense gave up 100 yards on the ground, but mostly kept the Falcons versatile backfield duo in check.
  1. Fresh off underwhelming outings of 16, 46 and 77 yards on the ground, Jay Ajayi ran well from wire to wire on Sunday, putting together a string of dominating gallops in the second half en route to 130 yards at 5.0 yards per carry. This offense demands that Ajayi serve as its beating heart for any shot to thrive, and that's what we got from the hard-charging back on Sunday.
  1. Miami's comeback looked even more impressive with Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey missing the entire second half with a potential concussion.
This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content