Dolphins earn win over Redskins despite opening-game flaws
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Miami launched a new NFL season with a flawed performance that left much room for improvement.
The Dolphins were good enough to beat the Washington Redskins, who haven’t quite mastered the art of winning ugly.
Miami was limited to 249 yards, scored one touchdown on offense and fumbled twice in a 17-10 victory Sunday. If not for a 69-yard punt return by Jarvis Landry with 10:22 left, the Dolphins might have paid a hefty price for their ineffective play.
The task now for Miami is to iron out the kinks and put forth a sharper showing next Sunday at Jacksonville.
“There are adjustments to be made and corrections to be made but we’ll get it right,” tight end Jordan Cameron said. “The timing was a little bit off maybe, but there’s no cause for concern, obviously. The first game, it’s always like that.”
The Dolphins fell behind 10-0 and scrambled to pull even in the fourth quarter before Landry went the distance for the pivotal score.
“I think we have to come out next week and start the game faster, but we fought through it,” said Ryan Tannehill, who was limited to 226 yards passing.
Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins played decently in his first opening-day start, completing 21 of 31 passes for 196 yards. But he threw two interceptions and couldn’t produce a score in the second half despite directing four drives into Miami territory.
“We battled and came up short. I guess we’re all pretty tired of that around here,” Cousins said. “We’ve done that too many times. So eventually the tables need to turn. The tide needs to be turned. And we need a day like today to end up having us be on top at the end.”
Some observations from the Dolphins-Redskins opener:
SUH’S DEBUT: Free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had one tackle and one assist in his Dolphins debut. In addition to double teams, the Redskins chop-blocked Suh on numerous occasions — according to Suh.
“I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating. I’ve just got to adjust my play and understand what they’re doing,” he said. “They did a lot of it: Six, seven, eight times on the first drive. After that they were still doing it, but it didn’t affect me.”
RUSH TO IMPROVE: Washington totaled 161 yards rushing, led by Alfred Morris, who ran for 121 on 25 carries.
The Redskins had only one 100-yard rusher the entire 2014 season.
“If you are going to feel good about a loss, it’s something to feel good about when you rush for over 100 yards against a front like that,” coach Jay Gruden said.
SEA OF AQUA: There were plenty of fans wearing Dolphins jerseys and t-shirts in the seats at FedExField.
The aqua and orange colors in the stands did not go unnoticed by Tannehill.
“I feel like we have a good number of fans, but that had to be probably the best road showing I’ve seen,” he said. “They impacted the game. They were getting the Dolphins chant going throughout the game and making noise when we were on defense. When you can do that at an away stadium, it’s huge.”
SECOND HALF SHUTDOWN: The Dolphins surrendered 198 yards of offense in the first half but just 151 after halftime.
“We obviously figured out what they were trying to do,” Suh said.
Defensive end Cameron Wake noted: “Everybody, I guess, got the rust off in the first half.”
BOUNCY BALL: Redskins rookie linebacker Preston Smith sacked Tannehill, forced a fumble and recovered the elusive ball on a play that began on at the Washington 22 and ended on the Miami 40.
Several players pounced on the ball before Smith finally smothered it, but Washington could not convert the turnover into points.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL