Dolphins sitting in 1st place in AFC East with 2-0 start
By DENNIS WASZAK JR., AP Pro Football Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Sure, it’s just two games in and early overreactions can look silly fast. But the Miami Dolphins are 2-0 for the first time since 2013 and sitting in first place in the AFC East.
It’s a promising start for a squad that had plenty of questions entering the season.
“What we’re doing out there is close to what we’re looking to do,” coach Adam Gase said. “We just have to do a few things better.”
Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes, Kenyan Drake ran for a score and the Dolphins took advantage of several mistakes by Sam Darnold and the New York Jets for a 20-12 victory Sunday that kept Miami undefeated .
“It started for us in April,” Gase said. “It’s just nobody else realized that, so we’ll just keep getting better and keep surprising people.”
New York dropped to 1-1 with the loss, the same record as New England after the Patriots fell to Jacksonville. Meanwhile, Buffalo is off to an 0-2 start.
Miami will look to improve to 3-0 next Sunday at home when it takes on Oakland.
“I’m not surprised at all,” wide receiver Albert Wilson said of Miami’s start. “I have high expectations, especially for the offense.”
Tannehill finished 17 of 23 for 168 yards and TDs to Wilson and A.J. Derby. He also ran for 44 yards on eight carries for the Dolphins, coming off a win in the longest NFL game since 1970 merger by outlasting Tennessee in 7 hours, 8 minutes last Sunday.
After sitting out all of last season with a knee injury, Tannehill has shown he is fully healthy now.
“I think he’s doing great,” Wilson said. “I think we can do a little more around him to clean things up, but I think he’s doing his job.”
The same could be said of the Dolphins’ defense, which got interceptions from T.J. McDonald and Xavien Howard.
“They’re getting turnovers and getting the ball in our hands,” Tannehill said. “You can’t ask for anything more from the defense. … But as an offense, we have to turn our level of play up.”
Here are some other things to know from the Dolphins’ win over the division-rival Jets:
After a solid NFL debut, the 21-year-old Darnold struggled a bit in this one . He was 25 of 41 for 334 yards— the youngest player to throw for 300 or more — and a touchdown to Bilal Powell with the two INTs in his second NFL start, but couldn’t consistently get the offense moving.
“Just missed opportunities,” Darnold said. “I think that goes for every game where you look at all the plays you wish you could have back. Again, short week, got a game Thursday (at Cleveland) and we’ve got to get right back to it tonight.”
Darnold got off to a much better start than in the Jets’ opener in Detroit, when his first NFL pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. But on the Jets’ second possession in this one, Darnold turned it over when his pass intended for Quincy Enunwa was picked off by McDonald. Three plays later, Drake’s 6-yard run gave the Dolphins a 7-0 lead.
Miami took advantage of another turnover after Darnold completed a 10-yard pass to Robby Anderson, who had the ball knocked out of his hands by Kiko Alonso. Raekwon McMillan recovered for the Dolphins at the Jets 49, giving Miami a short field. Wilson scored on a 29-yard catch to make it 14-0.
The Jets, coming off a 48-17 rout of Detroit on Monday night, appeared in great shape when Jordan Jenkins forced and recovered a fumble after a strip-sack of Tannehill gave New York the ball at the Miami 12. But, Darnold’s pass to Terrelle Pryor on the next play was intercepted in the end zone by Howard.
“We’ve got to make them pay for turning the ball over and we just gave it right back to ’em,” Darnold said.
Frank Gore moved up in the NFL record books by passing Curtis Martin for fourth on the career rushing list, and helped seal the win with a game-sealing catch.
On third-and-19 and the game still hanging in the balance late in the fourth quarter, Gore caught a low pass and zipped up the field for exactly 19 yards before going down.
The Dolphins were able to then run out the clock, and Gore earned a game ball from Gase for that play, as well as his 8-yard run in the third quarter that put him behind only Barry Sanders, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
“It means a lot,” said Gore, who finished with 25 yards on nine carries. “I’ve been doubted my whole life, coming out of college (at Miami) with the injuries that I had. People were saying I would only be in the league two or three years. I’d be done. I’ve been blessed to keep going and have success.”
COULD’VE BEEN MORE
On second-and-10 from the 14, Darnold completed a short pass to Chris Herndon, who fumbled, recovered and tried to get into the end zone, but was tackled at the 1 as time expired in the opening half — keeping the Jets off the scoreboard.
“I should’ve done what I had to do to get in,” the rookie tight end said.
The Jets were victims of bad field position all game as Dolphins punter Matt Haack consistently pinned New York back in its territory.
Only once in 12 possessions did the Jets start a drive better than their 25, and that came early in the fourth quarter when they got the ball at their 41 after Avery Williamson recovered a fumbled snap by Tannehill.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL