ReFo: Dolphins @ Broncos, Week 12

Steve Palazzolo highlights the key performances from Denver's Week 12 win over Miami.

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Dolphins @ Broncos, Week 12

2014-REFO-WK12-MIA@DENComing into the week, it seemed as if the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos were headed in opposite directions. The Dolphins appeared prime to make the move to “contender” status in the AFC while the Broncos had hit a mid-season lull that had analysts questioning their position as one of the league’s best. A changing of the guard lost out to status quo as the Broncos staved off an early onslaught by the Dolphins’ defense and quieted their doubters to come away with the 39-36 victory.

It was a disappointing effort for a Miami defense that was thought to be prepared to hang with the league’s elite offenses while Denver’s offense proved they have the ability to win with more than just the passing game, answering major questions stemming from a poor showing just a week ago.

Here’s a look at the performances that shaped this AFC battle.

Miami Dolphins – Performances of Note

Defensive Line: -20.7

Breakdown: This game started and ended in the trenches. The Broncos came in looking to re-stablish their identity at the line of scrimmage and the Dolphins were simply unable to keep up. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was only pressured on three of his 36 drop-backs and Miami had no answer for a Denver running game that picked up 201 yards on 35 carries. Seven defensive linemen played at least 10 snaps, with DT Randy Starks posting the lowest grade of the bunch (-5.6) as it was often his gap that was targeted by Denver’s cutback zone running scheme.

Signature Stat: The defensive line managed only one hurry on Manning’s 36 dropbacks.

Ryan Tannehill, QB: +5.8

Breakdown: It was an efficient outing for Tannehill that featured few misses and a number of strong throws at the intermediate level. It’s hard to blame him for the late-game interception that was slightly altered at the line of scrimmage and found its way through the catch point and into the hands of safety T.J. Ward, but unfortunately, that might be the play for which he is remembered in this game. Instead, it should be his well-thrown touchdown pass to WR Mike Wallace with 2:00 minutes to go in the first half or is other two touchdown passes and rushing touchdown that helped Miami stay in the game against one of the league’s best offenses.

Signature Stat: On passes thrown between 10-20 yards, Tannehill went 7-for-8 for 99 yards and a touchdown.

Dallas Thomas, RT: -5.6

Breakdown: Thomas was often matched up against Broncos OLB Von Miller and he struggled at times in pass protection. He surrendered four hurries and a hit on 40 pass block attempts, and there were a number of other missed blocks that didn’t even register as pressure.

Signature Plays: Miller gave Thomas trouble with his quick spin move at the 0:49 second mark of the first quarter and later got the edge with speed at the 3:08 mark of the fourth quarter. Those are just two examples of quick pressures that forced Tannehill off his spot.

Denver Broncos – Performances of Note

Offensive Line: +16.9

Breakdown: After a week under the microscope, the Broncos’ offensive line responded to their criticism as they set the tone in the running game and kept Manning clean all afternoon. Perhaps it was a telling sign that Denver’s first play from scrimmage was a “blast” play that saw the entire line fire off the ball and get movement on the Miami defensive line, a foreshadowing that the running game was a priority this week. All five starters graded positively while backup tackle Paul Cornick played 18 snaps at tight end and posted a +1.5 grade of his own. It was an impressive effort as the line dominated from start to finish.

Signature Stat: No offensive lineman was charged with surrendering a pressure.

C.J. Anderson, RB: +4.2

Breakdown: Anderson has filled in nicely when given ample opportunity as he posted his third straight grade in the green. He finished with 167 yards on 27 carries while adding four catches for 28 yards. He’s proven difficult to tackle as he forced eight misses and his 63.8 Elusive Rating ranks sixth among running backs over the last three weeks.

Signature Plays: It was a game-filled with efficient, chain-moving cuts, but Anderson’s run at the 10:47 mark of the second quarter showed his speed to get to the edge then some niftiness in the open field on his way to a 25-yard gain.

Terrance Knighton, DT: +1.2

Breakdown: Knighton had a strong game against the run, leading the Broncos with three run game stops while adding a clean-up sack on his 18 pass rushes.

Signature Plays: Knighton had his way with center Samson Satele on a couple of running plays late in the second quarter, first standing up him at the 4:20 mark then squeezing the point of attack with 3:20 to go.

PFF Game Ball

While it was a will-imposing effort by the Broncos’ offensive line, RB C.J. Anderson deserves credit for his 167 yards on 27 carries that included eight broken tackles (including three in the passing game) and a touchdown.


Follow Steve on Twitter: @PFF_Steve

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Jason Williams

    As well as Miami played early, I never had a doubt that Denver would pull away at the end.

    • corners

      i seriously doubt that,especially with it being known the phins score the most 3rd quarter points in the nfl.

      If only jamal taylor did not bite on that horrible fake on 3rd and 20+. Why bite on it at 10 yards when they needed 20? Rookie mistake…. Thats changed the game right there, 7 points, and denver got the ball at the half killed us

      • Jason Williams

        sorry man, I just don’t see Miami as a contender and I think they’ll be lucky to make the playoffs. December is historically a house of horrors for Miami.

        • corners

          were done after last nights game. Have to win 4 of last 5.

          Ravens, Pats. Jets x 2 and Vikings.

          Our secondary is severely depleted and we had our 3rd and 4th string tackles out there.

          We will be lucky to make the playoffs. But would any team honestly want to play the fins to make the playoffs or i a playoff game? I dont think so. They play very well against good teams. Its just disheartening to see it come crashing down in the last few minutes 4 times already.

    • Tim Edell


  • Zev

    In my experience, you cannot beat Peyton Manning if you do not dominate the line of scrimmage.

    • clarkharry86

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      ➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜ W­W­W.h­u­l­u­j­o­b.C­o­m

  • Malachi

    von miller might not have gotten a sack but his pressure is what kept them from throwing deep on us all game. they were scared to do anyhting other than 3 step drops all day long

    • corners

      nah, it wasnt the pressure. We dont throw deep. Thats our #1 issue.

      The dolphins put up 36 points on you. The best thing your defense did? The last 3 and out they gave the phins with 3 or 4 minutes left.

      I have to add im shocked we didnt lose any of those 3 fumbles. ALL on the same stinking drive.

      • bbies1973

        Have to agree, Miami’s offensive efforts were not the problem. Any time an offense puts up 30+ points, a defense that is allegedly one of the top defenses in the league should not allow the game to get away from them.
        I will never understand why the Dolphins continually rush 3 against the likes of Rodgers, Stafford, and Manning, all winnable games that were lost in the final few minutes. Especially when getting pressure in their face is best way to stop them, and was working during the rest of the game. Philbin/Coyle don’t even mix it up. In the late games they rush 3 and drop into soft zone. Even my 7 year old knows you don’t play soft zone against Manning! No delayed rush or blitz, they rarely even change up which lineman drops and which one rushes.

        • corners

          watching them play zone was very frustrating. Personally i think they are trying to cover for deficienies we have at lb and the lack of depth at cb(on our 3rd string cb), i think thats why we see Dion Jordan sometimes dropping back into deep man coverage.

          I couldnt believe how much Anderson was bowling over and dolphin that decided they weren’t going to arm tackle like the rest. Elite defenses swarm, not arm tackle. I saw so many phins standing around while anderson had his legs moving,that was so annoying watching denver lineman PUSH their rb for 5 more yards because no other dolphin defender helped with the gang tackle. They looked lazy out there on our d line.

          Im happy, and annoyed by this game. Another close one we should have won

          • bbies1973

            Yes tackling was, and has been, a problem all season long. Yes, the D gave up over 200yards rushing. However, even after all of that, the game was still within reach if not for the defensive play calls in the final minutes.

        • ttrickyyy

          The refs allowed the Broncos offense to run that Welker pick play (remember he did this in New England all the time and it was BLATANT on the 2pt conversion they got) which gave them wide open receivers. Wake AND Vernon “Mysteriously” no showed ( its called holding) against a WEAK offensive line. Denver is good at home and got the home cooking.
          Bottom line : Tannehill played a great game. Our defense needs better coaching

      • Malachi

        thats the story of our 2014 life… dead last in the league in fumbles recovered despite forcing 13 this year. i was literally laughing/crying into my pillow on the third one tho. lol

  • Jason

    It’s nice when the numbers back up what you see during the game. The difference in the game for Miami was clearly the poor defensive line showing, they seems to hit a wall early and couldn’t do anything. There were a lot of missed tackles as well, but the DL proved to be the glaring weakness. I was surprised Tannehill played so well given he was being protected by two backup tackles. Kudos to him and Lazor, the offense is coming together very nicely.

    • Malachi

      tru, tannehill was keeping it close all game long, despite the lack of time in pocket.

  • corners

    You know what also won it? They kicked the ball away from Landry. The nfl leader in kick return avg only had 1 bad return than williams lateraled(wow….) back to him.

  • Thomas Bell

    I was surprised by Tannehill’s accuracy, particularly on the move. I was also surprised that the Miami defense gave Denver less trouble than Oakland, much less St Louis, poor schemes and no outstanding individual performances. Finally, not sure what the Denver defensive adjustments were in the 2nd half (base vs nickel?) — but hope del rio learned from it and continues the trend.