The Miami Dolphins did on Sunday what any NFL team hopes to do when playing a game on the road. They won. It may not have been as pretty as some had hoped but the season is a long one and it often takes teams, even the good ones, a few weeks to really hit their stride.
The Dolphins did not start the game very well, falling behind 10-0 before eventually scoring 17 unanswered points to get out of D.C. with the win. The team showed real mental toughness by not letting the early deficit affect their ultimate goal of winning the game and sticking to the gameplan.
While there are several things for Miami to work on moving forward, there were also some positives to take away from the game. Before we move on to the Dolphins Week 2 game in Jacksonville, here are the top performers from Miami's win over the Redskins.
We'll start with the obvious choice for this list, wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The second-year pass catcher made a big impact for the Dolphins on Sunday, both on offense and on special teams. He finished with eight receptions for 53 yards but his biggest contribution was in the return game. With the game tied at 10 in the 4th quarter, Landry returned a Redskins punt 69 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Miami's strong safety continued to show that his best years in the NFL are ahead of him. Jones was all over the field for the Dolphins defense, making a team-high 12 tackles, one of which was for a loss, and had a pass defended as well. Beyond the stats, Jones influenced several positive plays for Miami's defense. His pass rush late in the game forced Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to throw a higher ball than he may have liked, which led to Brice McCain's highlight reel interception.
One of the unsung heroes of Miami's win was center Mike Pouncey. He anchored the Dolphins offensive line, with a pair of unproven guards on either side of him, giving quarterback Ryan Tannehill a consistent pocket to throw out of.
When Dion Sims left the game with a head injury in the 2nd quarter, Jordan Cameron was the only tight end left on the roster. He stepped up in a big way, both in the passing game and with his blocking ability. Cameron looked very solid while pass protecting and run blocking, but he made a couple of very nice catches including a spectacular 27-yard diving grab that he had to fully extend to reel in.
The Rookie Kickers
When you enter a season with a pair of undrafted rookies as your kicker and punter, there is going to be a feeling of uneasiness until they prove themselves. Both kicker Andrew Franks and punter Matt Darr passed their first test with flying colors. Franks converted his only field goal attempt, a 22-yarder, and both of his extra point tries while consistently booming kickoffs deep in the Redskins' end zone to force touchbacks. They only had one returnable kick all day, and even that one was a good 5 yards deep.
As for Darr, he punted four times for a net average of 43.5. His longest punt went for 63 yards and he also landed one inside Washington's 20-yard line. The Dolphins coaching staff are surely feeling more comfortable about their young kickers after a strong first game in the NFL.
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