Dolphins Dominate Chiefs, 31-3, For First Win Of The Season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Eight weeks of pent up frustration was unleashed by the Miami Dolphins this afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium as they rolled to their first win of the season, 31-3, over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Riding the accurate arm of quarterback Matt Moore and a suffocating defense, Miami put together a complete performance from start to finish to stop Kansas City’s four-game winning streak. The defense sacked Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel five times and could have had at least three more had Cassel not escaped.
Running back Reggie Bush took over in the second half as he showed flashes of his college days at USC with some nifty moves on some big runs, none bigger than his 28-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. That run for all intents and purposes put the game away.
But it was Moore, who finished 17-of-23 for 244 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, showing confidence and vision early on who really set the tone. He completed 6-of-7 passes on the Dolphins’ first two touchdown drives for 119 yards and both of his touchdown passes went to tight end Anthony Fasano, one from 3 yards out and the second one from 35. His passer rating was an impressive 147.3
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall caught eight passes for 106 yards and a touchdown and Bush and rookie H-back Charles Clay each caught three passes for 50 yards. Bush added 92 rushing yards on 13 carries for a 7.1 average.
Statistical Milestones: Tight end Anthony Fasano matched his single-game career-high for touchdown receptions with two in the first half. The only other time he reached that total was against these same Chiefs three years ago in Miami’s 38-31 victory. His 35-yard touchdown reception also is his career-long. … Moore’s third touchdown pass of the day from 14 yards out to Brandon Marshall tied his career-high for touchdown passes in a single game. He did it twice for the Carolina Panthers in 2009 in back-to-back weeks against the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. His 147.5 passer rating was a career-best. … Reggie Bush’s 28-yard touchdown run was his first rushing touchdown of the season and it was also his longest run of the season. … Free safety Tyrone Culver’s sack of Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel on the second-to-last play of the first half was the first of his four-year career and kept Kansas City off the scoreboard late. … Inside linebacker Kevin Burnett, who had six sacks last season for San Diego, got his first of the season in the second quarter and finished with 1.5. … Veteran outside linebacker Jason Taylor tied Bob Kuechenberg for most games played in franchise history with 196 by playing today.
Turning Point: There were a few to choose from on this afternoon, but based on what happened last week at the New York Giants when they got a touchdown at the end of the first half, we have to go with free safety Tyrone Culver’s sack of Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel. He burst through on a blitz and stopped Cassel’s forward progress on 3rd-and-3 from the Miami 13 for a 12-yard loss, taking Kansas City out of field goal range. With one second left on 4th-and-15 from his 45, Cassel’s desperation attempt ended in a 24-yard pass to Steve Breaston as time expired, allowing the Dolphins to take an 11-point lead and momentum into the locker room.
What You Didn’t See: Miami went mostly nickel defense on Kansas City’s opening drive and while the Chiefs did hold the ball for 7:49 and 14 plays, the unit stiffened when it counted and held them to a field goal. Linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett were very active both in pass coverage and run defense, with Dansby making the big tackle on Chiefs wide receiver Steve Breaston on 3rd-and-10, dropping him 5 yards shy of the first down. … Rookie center Mike Pouncey looked sharp on the opening drive, picking up the shifting Tamba Hali on a third down play to give Moore time to throw. Hali, who lined up opposite left tackle Jake Long most of the day, drifted to the middle at the last second and bull rushed Pouncey, who stood him up with help from right guard Vernon Carey. … Tight end Anthony Fasano made an even bigger play on Miami’s touchdown drive late in the first quarter than his 3-yard touchdown catch. One play earlier he took on Hali, who lined up on the right side, and kept him away from Moore long enough for Moore to complete the 19-yard screen to Bush that set up the score. … Like last week, the Dolphins began to create a serious push up the middle in passing situations in the second quarter to disrupt Cassel and allow Wake and Taylor to collapse the edges. … The entire offensive line kept Kansas City’s athletic defense at bay in pass protection and then in the second half in running situations, opening holes for Bush on that short scoring drive that made it a 25-point lead.
Sparano Speaks: “It really was gratifying to get a win today. Guys played good, coaches coached good and those guys kept believing in the locker room there. They were pretty daring today. To come into a place like this and win a football game against a really good team out there, it’s a credit to the people in the locker room and those coaches.” – on how gratifying a victory this was
“He threw it well and he threw it well all week honestly. We completed 74 percent of our passes in practice this week and that’s hard to do. The guy threw it well, I thought the line protected well and that’s a good group out there. We want to take swings at those guys when they don’t do well but they played a pretty solid football game today up front.” – on the play of Moore and the offensive line
“I’m just happy for the guys in the locker room, I really am. All I’ve wanted to do for seven weeks right now is to see these guys smile. I’m happy for them, happy for the people in the organization and happy for the coaches. I’ll have my smile tonight.” – on what this win means to the team
“This is all about the players. These guys did a super job all week long of putting all the garbage behind time, not listening to the media and not listening to anybody else. I say that with all due respect but that’s the fact and those guys came out there and worked their tail off and they were focused the entire week. We talked about starting fast and finishing strong and we got off to a good start and we obviously finished.” – on the players staying focused
From The Locker Room: “That was our motto all week, just starting fast and finishing strong and I think guys just had that attitude and that mentality. I hit a couple of big plays early on to some key guys and kind of lit that fire and we just kept it going.” – quarterback Matt Moore on the fast start and the attack mentality
“That felt great. See I don’t remember the last time we lined up and did that. It felt good going out there and playing a complete game. It was a full team. All aspects played great and it felt good to be out there and kneeling the ball.” – left tackle Jake Long on being able to line up in Victory formation at the end
“I’m not sure what it is. It’s a nice coincidence and it was a good feeling to get in and help the team two times. But the win feels much better.” – tight end Anthony Fasano on tying his career-high with two TD catches against the same team he did it against the first time in 2008
“That was coach’s message all week was start fast and finish strong so it was just a matter of time. We know we’re a better team than how we’d been playing and it finally paid off. So we’re excited. We’re going to enjoy this one and prepare for Washington.” – wide receiver Brandon Marshall on the win
“That’s what we’ve come to expect from ourselves and you had to figure it was going to come soon because week after week we got closer and closer. I think today we put it all together and the sacks, they come in bunches and one leads to two, two leads to three and then you look up and it’s five or seven sacks.” – inside linebacker Kevin Burnett on the play of the defense
Game Balls: Quarterback Matt Moore: His 147.5 passer rating was near perfect and the best of his career. The game plan called for Moore to attack through the air early and often, which he did in the first half by going 11-of-14 for 167 yards and two touchdowns with a 156.0 passer rating. He spread the ball effectively among five different receivers and connected on big plays of over 20 yards to four of them (Marshall, Bush, Clay and Fasano).
Offensive line: This was a unit that was much maligned through the first seven games but answered the call today by keeping Moore’s uniform clean to the tune of zero sacks. He was only hit twice, and in the second half that group opened up holes for Bush to run through as he gained 83 of his 92 yards on 10 carried over the final 30 minutes.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall: His three catches for 56 yards in the first half helped Moore get into a rhythm, as he was his favorite target early on. He caught passes of 30 and 20 yards and his 14-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter broke the game open. It was his third 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Inside linebacker Kevin Burnett: He had a breakout game, finishing with 12 tackles (10 solo), 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. As a member of the San Diego Chargers from 2009-10 he was familiar with the Chiefs and helped was able to read the offense.
Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby: With 11 solo tackles, two quarterback hits and one forced fumble, Dansby set the tone early with a big tackle of Chiefs wide receiver Steve Breaston on a 3rd-and-10. He stopped him 5 yards short of the first down and forced Kansas City to settle for a 43-yard field goal that ended up being their only points.
Honorable mention: This was such a complete team effort that it’s difficult to leave people out on the game balls, so here are a few honorable mentions – Tight end Anthony Fasano caught two passes for 38 yards, both of them for touchdowns, and blocked well; running back Reggie Bush had a combined 142 yards of offense (92 on the ground and 50 receiving) and kept the Chiefs guessing all afternoon; rookie H-back Charles Clay set up Fasano’s touchdown with back-to-back catches of 21 and 22 yards and also blocked well; punter Brandon Fields helped win the field position battle by landing two punts inside the 10, including one in the first half that set up Miami’s second scoring drive. He averaged 44.2 yards per punt gross with a long punt of 55 yards.
Next: Miami returns home for the first of back-to-back games at Sun Life Stadium, hosting the Washington Redskins and former Dolphins quarterback John Beck.