Miami Dolphins dominated Patriots in run game, then enjoyed watching the film

Joe Schad
Palm Beach Post
Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida (22) rushes for a long gain in the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, December 20, 2020.

When you're a 300-pound offensive lineman in the NFL, the only thing better than running over defensive players in the run game is watching replays of it the next day.

Miami destroyed the Patriots with 250 rushing yards on Sunday, more than a Bill Belichick-coached team had allowed in seven years. Seven!

And former Patriots center Ted Karras, in his first year with the Dolphins, was not going to apologize about how he felt watching back the film in study on Monday.

"It was fun to look at that film with runs we have been repping now for six months," Karras said.

Miami entered the game with one of the worst, if not the worst, rushing attacks in the league. But the Dolphins quickly learned they could run it down the Patriots' throats with both Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida.

"It was a complete team effort and it showed," Karras said.

Miami's offensive linemen — Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, Karras, Jesse Davis, Michael Deiter and Robert Hunt — were physical, aggressive and determined.

But Karras correctly noted that Miami's tight ends — Adam Shaheen and Durham Smythe — also made huge blocking contributions. Film review confirmed the tight ends, as well as receivers like Mack Hollins and Isaiah Ford, helped break long runs.

"You seldom have a long run, without those guys blocking," Miami offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said. "Unless somebody falls down. You seldom have one of those. That's something that we've been working on and trying to get better at each week, is how we can control those guys in the secondary. How can we affect them? And get them blocked. And they're getting better every week."

Ahmed had a run of 31 yards, Miami's longest of the season. Breida had a rush of 24 yards, his longest of the season.

The Dolphins' total of 250 rushing yards was their most in four years.

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Miami Dolphins running back Salvon Ahmed (26) avoids the tackle of New England Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones (31) during a long run in the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, December 20, 2020.

"I think we want to build on execution," Miami coach Brian Flores said. "It's nice to have some success, but it doesn’t really mean anything in the next game."

The Raiders, Miami's opponent on Saturday night, allow 4.6 yards per carry, which is tied with New England for fifth-worst in the league. Buffalo, Miami's final opponent, also allows 4.6 yards per rush.

These teams can be rushed on. Miami must show it can continue to establish some semblance of a rushing attack, as they did last Sunday. 

"I think when you have that kind of success in the run game, it doesn’t just help the quarterback," Tua Tagovailoa said. "I think it helps the entire team."

It is possible running back Myles Gaskin will be activated off the COVID-19 list this week. Though Miami has injuries throughout its wide receiver group, a refreshed trio of Gaskin-Ahmed-Breida could play a big role in the playoff push.

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"I think we had a great plan going in," Karras said. "The backs definitely I would say make the o-line look good more than the o-line make the backs look good. They were hitting the hole fast. They had great vision. The cutbacks were there."

Gailey, the offensive coordinator, credited Eric Studesville, Miami's running backs coach, for improvements some of the backs have made throughout the season.

Karras, the center, credited the training staff and training methods for his belief Miami's linemen were well-equipped to handle an uptick in grueling rushing reps.

Miami has jumped to 26th in the league, averaging 3.9 yards per carry.

"We’ve been waiting on that for a while," Karras said of Sunday's performance. "And we’ve been working really hard and putting in the time. I’m glad that we all got to share in the rewards."

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