Thursday 24 August 2017 / 06:42 PM

FINS CONTINUE ALONG THE TIGHTROPE

This has been a very surprising week in the NFL. The unbeatable Patriots got beat at home, the 8-1 Cowboys have a better record than the 7-2 Patriots, and the Dolphins got their fourth straight win and are turning around their horrible start to their season.

The Dolphins-Chargers match-up on Sunday was a critical game for both teams. Each team is teetering on implosion and has had several redeeming games so far in the 2016 season. Fortunately for the Dolphins, this was one of their best victories along with their earlier win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Dolphins’ 31-24 success puts them at 5-4, above the all-important .500 percentage and with enough momentum to be even better than that. This was Miami’s first win in San Diego since 2005. That’s over a decade of losing on the road to the Chargers.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Chargers took at 10-0 lead in the second. Then suddenly, Ryan Tannehill produced a 39 yard pass into the endzone right into the arms of Kenny Stills for a touchdown. The moment that ball left Tannehill’s hand and I saw it going further than 15 yards, I got worried. It looks like the Dolphins QB has really upped his game, though, and the offensive line has been helping him get more time and room to throw.

The third quarter saw another good Tannehill pass to Damien Wills for a touchdown, putting the Dolphins up 21-7. Usually when the Fins are looking at a 0-10 deficit, games don’t end like this.

Philip Rivers hit Tyrell Williams for a 51-yard touchdown that gave San Diego a 24-21 lead, but after Miami get a field goal to tie the game at 24-24, a San Diego blunder saved the Fins from going into overtime. Philip Rivers was trying to get the Chargers into field-goal range, but threw a pick into the hands of Kiko Alonso, who booked it for 60 yards for the Dolphins victory.

Tannehill threw for 240 yards on 17/24 attempts with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Jay Ajayi carried for 79 yards, and Devante Parker caught for 103 yards. The Miami offense win was a pretty even effort, but I am starting to get more confidence in Tannehill as a quarterback.

Philip Rivers threw for 326 yards on 23/44 attempts with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Tyrell Williams caught for 125 yards and 1 touchdown. Rivers didn’t favorably target one receiver and the Chargers touchdowns were spread over four receivers.

Both quarterbacks played a great game, except for Rivers’ performance in the fourth quarter. Something must have malfunction, because Rivers ended up throwing 4 interceptions in the final term alone and sealed the deal with a pick 6. This was reminiscent of the Kenyan Drake kickoff touchdown against the Jets last week. Two lucky plays for two lucky wins in a row.

Hopefully, Miami’s luck continues.

The Dolphins as a team are developing in a very interesting way. They’ve got the underdog edge from being bad, but also have some players that under the right circumstances could be stars. With these conditions, and seeing linebacker Alonso and Kenyan Drake fly onto highlight reels with glorious, game-saving touchdowns inspires confidence within the whole team. This was Alonso’s first touchdown ever playing football (professional, college and high school). Drake just came off the NFL draft and is still reeling in his single-handed match-winning touchdown most 22-year-old kids can only dream about.

Up until now, teams didn’t really know what to expect. Now, with kids coming out of the woodwork with crazy touchdowns on defense and special teams, I would expect more cautionary football from their opponents. Less aggressive and safer football means less opportunity for a linebacker to make a 50-yard touchdown – but it also means less offensive sparks.

The Dolphins will play the Rams and 49ers in the next two weeks, but will need all the momentum they can get going into the Ravens and Cardinals in the subsequent fortnight.

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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