They won a game when they yielded a season-high 462 yards.
Despite all those factors working against them, the Dolphins still worked off the best recipe for winning. They didn't turn the ball over. They won the turnover battle by recovering a St. Louis fumble on a kickoff. And rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill played like a veteran.
The youngster had his most efficient game. He completed a season-best 72 percent of his passes. He finished with a season-high 112 quarterback rating.
He didn't make spectacular plays, but he was outstanding when the Dolphins needed it. How else to describe that touchdown drive to open the third quarter, which gave the Dolphins their winning points?
Tannehill completed seven of eight passes that series.
“I thought his decision-making was good again,” Philbin said. “He played a smart game. Didn't give the ball to the opposition. There weren't a lot of throws that they had more guys than we had. I'm not saying everything is perfect or everything was 100 percent, but when you don't throw the ball to the other team, that's a good place to start.
”I thought he was efficient and ran the offense good.“
And I think the coaching staff did a magnificent job.
The play-calling on that third-quarter drive was impressive. The fake punt that Chris Clemons turned into a first down with a 3-yard run was courageous and was the culmination of a week's worth of identifying a St. Louis weakness and then practicing it time and again.
The Dolphins kept the football an extra 2?1/2 minutes because of that successful fake, so they gave St. Louis the football with 1:41 to play instead of 4:15.
There was also this: Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman raised eyebrows in losses to the Jets and Arizona when he continued throwing the ball at a time that it was probably better to run and burn time off the clock.
This game, in a similar situation, Sherman called runs on four of his final five plays. It chewed seconds off the clock. It worked.
So where can all this lead? How good can a team that is steadily improving be?
”The ceiling? It's a long way from here, I'll tell you that much,“ Karlos Dansby said. ”We're nowhere near there right now. We got a lot of growing to do. That's from the head down. But everyday we strive to get better and that's why you play the game — to get better.
“It's definitely gotten better. But we're still a long way from being perfect.”
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