It was a memorable home opener in Miami as the Dolphins proved all the doubters wrong in front of 54,245 fans at Sun Life Stadium.
While all the talk before the game surrounded rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Reggie Bush stole the show and picked up his first two touchdowns of the season. Bush's incredible performance ultimately turned a 3 point halftime deficit into a 35-13 rout of the Oakland Raiders. Bush wrapped up an impressive afternoon with 172 rushing yards on 26 carriers including touchdowns from 23 and 65 yards out along with 25 recieving yards on 3 receptions. Rookie Lamar Miller added his first NFL touchdown on a 15 yard run. As the Dolphins running game thrived so did the team's run defense, limiting the Raiders to 23 yards on the ground and no touchdowns.
Making his first start at home as a member of the Aqua and Orange, Ryan Tannehill completed 18 of 30 passes for an even 200 yards with one passing touchdown and a rushing score on the first drive of the game. Perhaps Tannehill's most impressive stat was his 0 interceptions compared to 3 from a week ago. All the discussion focusing on the tipped passes in the loss to the Texans was put to rest today as the issue no longer seems to be a concern considering that only one of his throws were batted at the line of scrimmage. Tannehill's athleticsm was also on display throughout the course of the game, using his speed to make plays as opposed to waiting for the play to develop. The improvements in Tannehill's game resulted in a 50 point increase to his QB rating from last week's loss as he finished with a solid 91.0.
Shockingly enough, the play of the Dolphins wide recievers was a decisive factor in their win over Oakland. Tannehill has developed much needed chemistry with one of his targets in the form of Brian Hartline. Hartline's performance was arguably the best of his career thus far and solidified his spot as the Dolphins top reciever with 9 catches for 111 yards. Davone Bess' 3 receptions for 43 yards proved crucial in keeping game-changing drives alive.
Once Tannehill threw his first career touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano, the comparisons to the legendary Dan Marino began to stir. Coincidentally, Dan Marino's first career passing score was also to a tight end, Joe Rose. Both Fasano and Rose wore No.80.
Miami's most important stat is certainly their red zone efficiency. It was a refreshing change to see the Dolphins find the endzone five times while not having to settle for the usual field goal. Miami's ability to find the zone killed any chance for the Raiders to mount a comeback.
With 2 games played in the 2012 campaign, the Dolphins sit at .500 for the first time in over a year and are tied at a record of 1-1 with the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and potentially the New York Jets.
On the day both Ryan Tannehill and head coach Joe Philbin earned their first NFL victories, their is a unique sense of confidence in Miami. The win has instilled much needed belief into the fan base as well as the players and coaching staff.
Owner Stephen Ross said on the Dolphins win: "First of many. I think we're really on to something." We can only hope that his words prove to be true this season and that the team continues to fire on all cylinders in next week's divisonal game against the Jets.
Enjoy the win Dolfans, Phins Up!