The most important number for Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill against the St. Louis Rams was zero. For the third time this season -- all wins -- the rookie didn’t commit a turnover. The result of the increased attention to ball security was a 17-14 win over the Rams at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.
It was the second-straight win for the Dolphins (3-3, 0-1 AFC East) as they head into their bye week. The victory should have veterans continuing to buy into first-year coach Joe Philbin’s system as Tannehill continues to show growth and gives the team hope of a playoff berth in a muddled AFC. Meantime, the Rams (3-3, 2-0 NFC West) are headed back to St. Louis in a dog-fight for their division and a potential spot in the postseason.
Tannehill improved his accuracy for a second-straight week as he was 21 of 29 for 185 yards, two touchdowns and took only two sacks. But Tannehill didn’t take many deep shots, and his reliance on passes into the flat and check-downs often stifled the attack. The running game was non-existent as RB Reggie Bush had 17 yards on 12 carries. Overall, the offensive line paved the way for a mere 19 yards on 18 attempts and blocked for a unit that had just 192 total yards. Previous game's grade: C
DE Cameron Wake continued his hot play with a sack against the Rams to give him 6.5 the past three weeks. CB Sean Smith also had a strong game with five solo tackles, including a crucial stop late in the fourth quarter along the goal line. But the unit struggled to stuff the run and was lucky the Rams missed three field goals as they totaled a staggering 462 yards. Only shanked kicks kept them from paying the price for poor tackling. Previous game's grade: B
Special teams: B
Much better than the previous two weeks. The punt-coverage unit forced a fumble the Dolphins nearly recovered, and RB Marcus Thigpen jumped on a loose ball as part of the kickoff coverage group. The turnover eventually led to a field goal. K Dan Carpenter also was solid, making his only attempt from 42 yards, and P Brandon Fields averaged more than 53 yards per kick. The group also converted a short fourth down on a fake punt late in the fourth quarter when DB Chris Clemons rushed for 3 yards. Previous game's grade: D
The offensive game plan was again bland and failed to attack an aggressive St. Louis defense that routinely left its defensive backs in one-on-one matchups. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman did make some halftime adjustments by calling a few screens, but it wasn’t enough and should have been part of the initial scheme. Defensively, the unit routinely bent but didn’t break. The plan to force a limited Rams receiving corps to make plays in the red zone worked. A surprising call for a fake punt late in the fourth quarter also was big to help eat clock and secure the win. Previous game's grade: C+
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