Dolphins Win Rams

5 Takeaways from the Dolphins Win Over the Rams

The Miami Dolphins (4-3) did something most didn’t expect on Sunday: they dominated the Los Angeles Rams (5-3). The vast majority of football pundits called this a win for the Rams. Local and national media keyed on Tua Tagovailoa’s first career start. But it was the defense that dominated in this 28-17 victory.

The win over the Rams stands as Miami’s third straight victory and has propelled them into the thick of the AFC playoff race. Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins win over the LA Rams.

Win Over the Rams: Dolphins on a Roll

The Dolphins entered Sunday’s game looking to improve their playoff position while breaking in a new quarterback. Much of the discourse ahead of this game surrounded Miami’s decision to go with Tagovailoa and doing so in the midst of a postseason push.

Many questioned the change. Ryan Fitzpatrick had the Dolphins’ prospects looking up and some wondered if going with an unproven rookie may have undercut Miami’s chances. The defense, meanwhile, disregarded those questions and came to play yet again.

With the victory, the Dolphins have now won three games in a row for the first time since 2018. It’s the first time the Dolphins have won three games in a row by 10-plus points since 2014. Miami has won four of its past five and is 9-7 in its last 16 games. The team is above .500 for the first time in the Brian Flores era.

This stretch arrives as Miami’s schedule softens some. Four of the Dolphins’ next five games come against teams with losing records. If Miami can go 4-1 over that span, they’ll enter the home stretch 8-4 and likely in strong playoff position.

Dolphins Defense Dominating

The Dolphins held the Rams to just 17 points in Sunday’s win. With that performance, Miami’s D vaulted to the top of the NFL in terms of scoring defense. This group allows just 18.6 points-per-game, the lowest mark in the league.

What’s helped Miami maintain this defensive dominance is quarterback pressure. On Sunday, the Dolphins registered their 18th and 19th sacks of the season, ninth most. In addition to the sacks, the Dolphins hit Jared Goff another six times.

“The key to the game was just attack Jared Goff,” said Dolphins DE Emmanuel Ogbah after the game. “As a defense we did a good job rushing them, rushing coverage, going head-to-head, rolling all them boys back; that did a great job for us and we got a chance to get back there.”

The Dolphins pressured Goff throughout and prevented the Rams’ QB from finding a consistent rhythm until it was too late. Miami managed four takeaways, intercepting Goff twice and forcing two Goff fumbles. The Dolphins’ 13 takeaways this season are tied for second-most in the NFL thus far.

In addition, Miami broke up 13 pass attempts. The Dolphins now have two players in the top-10 in Passes Defensed. Eric Rowe’s nine pass breakups are tied for sixth-most and Xavien Howard’s eight are tied for ninth-most.

The Dolphins’ dominance on third down continued in this one as well. The Rams converted 7-of-17 third down tries, but many of those came late. For the season, Miami’s 33.3 percent third-down conversion rate stands tied for second lowest in the league.

Dolphins Win Over the Rams: Jakeem Grant Value Trending Up

Jakeem Grant broke the game open with his 88-yard second quarter punt return. For the third time in his career, Grant took a punt for a touchdown. With the score, Grant became the all-time franchise leader in punt return TDs. He’d been tied with Freddie Solomon, Tom Vigorito and O.J. McDuffie prior.

“All credit to my teammates that were on the unit,” Grant said of the return. “I don’t even think I got touched, so like I said, man, it’s all credit to them.”

The 88-yard punt return stands as the longest in Dolphins history. The previous record was 87 yards by Vigorito (9/10/1981 vs Pittsburgh) and Ted Ginn Jr. (11/18/2007 at Philadelphia). His 816 career punt return yards moves Grant to sixth all-time for Miami. He passed Scott Schwedes (732 yards), Jarvis Landry (804) and Solomon (810) up the chart.

But Grant did not just contribute on Special Teams. He made a 15-yard reception on a comeback route late in the first quarter. The first down put Miami inside the Rams’ 10-yardline and helped set up the game-tying touchdown. Grant has a budding connection with Tagovailoa, and his speed could be integrated more into the offense.

Ogbah & Rowe Continue To Play Well

Ogbah continues his dominant play from his defensive end position. Ogbah’s strip-sack of Goff in the second quarter led to a 78-yard scoop-and-score by linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. The Dolphins took the lead on the play and never looked back.

Ogbah has now registered a sack in each of the last four games and has at least a half sack in every game since Week 1. His streak of four-straight games with a sack is the longest since Cameron Wake picked up a sack in five straight in 2016. His sixth sacks in 2020 are tied for sixth-most in the NFL.

Rowe, meanwhile, continued his dominance against tight ends. Against the Rams, Rowe recorded five passes defensed, a career-high, and an interception in the win for the Dolphins. He dropped what would have been a pick-six as well.

“Kind of through the week, we caught wind of ‘Rams defense this, Rams defense that.’ We’re like, ‘man, they need to worry about our defense,’ and that was one of our focuses on mind to show up,” Rowe said after the game.

“People keep sleeping on our defense and that’s fine, but we’re going to show up every week.”

Dolphins Over the Rams: Tua Plays Well Enough to Win

Get one of the many original Tua t-shirts on sale now over at!

The fanfare over Tagovailoa’s start remained the headline in the lead up to this one, but it didn’t look great at the beginning. Tagovailoa suffered a strip-sack turnover at the hands of Aaron Donald on his second snap as a starter. To his credit, though, Tagovailoa came back and played well enough for the Dolphins to secure the win over the Rams.

Tagovailoa finished 12-of-22 for just 93 yards and a touchdown, in addition to the fumble. The offensive game plan seemed conservative and Tagovailoa’s receivers dropped at least four passes, including two that would have resulted in a first down.

“I don’t think I played to the standard of what this offense is capable of,” Tagovailoa said after the game. “There were certain plays where I could have stepped up and made the right throw, made the right decision.

“Aside from that, thank God we’ve got a good defense, so when we do start to string good plays together, we know that we can be able to make plays and then get the ball back and continue to try to do the same.”

Tagovailoa admitted he could’ve played better, but he said he also enjoyed the game as well. He particularly enjoyed getting hit.

“I’m not going to lie, I did enjoy getting hit that first time. That was definitely a welcome.”

The Dolphins (4-3) head to Arizona to face the Cardinals (5-2) in Week 9. Get the Five Reasons Sports original Tua shirt HERE!

And don’t miss the Five Reasons Dolphins Postgame show below!

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