Dolphins dominate on defense, snap out of funk with thorough thrashing of Broncos
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — With his team on the verge of ending a five-game losing streak, Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase was in no mood to ease up, even against close friend and counterpart Vance Joseph.
The Dolphins pulled off a successful onside kick to set up their final score as they drubbed the woebegone Denver Broncos 35-9 on Sunday.
“We found a way today,” Gase said.
The Dolphins (5-7) regained their bearings with the help of Xavien Howard’s first two career interceptions , a franchise-record two safeties and a breakout performance by Kenyan Drake , who rushed for 120 yards.
Meanwhile, the Broncos (3-9) looked more lost than ever, extending the franchise’s longest losing streak in 50 years to eight games.
Here are things to know about the rout:
The victory was the Dolphins’ first since Week 7, and by far their most lopsided of the year. But with 10 minutes left and Miami leading 33-9, Gase wanted more, and Alterraun Verner recovered the onside kick.
“We’re just playing for 60 minutes,” Gase said. “We’re not going to slow down, and I don’t care what the score is.”
Joseph, who was Gase’s defensive coordinator last year, had no objection to the tactic.
“That’s his choice,” Joseph said.
Denver linebacker Von Miller lodged no complaint either.
“I’m not going to stay on the sideline and say, `Man, why are they doing an onside kick? Just give us the ball back,'” Miller said. “That’s loser football. This is the pros.”
WHO’S THE QB?
A dismal performance by Trevor Siemian only intensified the Broncos’ quarterback quandary. He had a rating of 30.5, with three sacks and three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown by Howard.
“Trevor wasn’t very good,” Joseph said. “You can’t have three interceptions and a pick-six and the sacks. But it wasn’t all him.”
Denver averaged 3.8 yards per pass play. Starting wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were targeted 17 times but combined for only four catches for 38 yards.
“It’s just a tough day. A couple of throws I’d like to have back,” Siemian said. “We didn’t get off to a good start. From there on, no rhythm.”
Siemian was the third starter at quarterback for Denver in as many weeks. Joseph said he’ll weigh his options as to who will start next Sunday against the New York Jets.
Drake had a 42-yard touchdown run en route to his first 100-yard game, and his 23 carries were also a career high.
“He’s tough between the tackles,” Gase said. “He’ll deliver the blow as much as any running back I’ve been around.”
Jay Cutler had an easier time finding open receivers thanks to the revived ground game.
“We’ve been missing that a little bit,” said Cutler, who threw for 235 yards and two scores. “We’ve been a little scattered in the run game. To get Kenyan going opens up some things on the outside.”
BUSTING A MOVE
Miami’s Julius Thomas caught a 9-yard touchdown pass and celebrated on his knees in the end zone with a ride-’em-cowboy dance. He said the celebration was spontaneous — and not easy.
“You’ve got to get into the swing, the way you mount a horse,” he said. “It was like high school drama class — you just do the best you can.”
UNDER .500 TO STAY
Denver’s latest loss will only increase the heat on first-year coach Joseph. After starting 3-1, the Broncos are assured of their first losing season since 2010.
“Losing is exhausting,” tight end Virgil Green said. “But we have to be professionals and learn what we’re doing wrong and move toward the offseason.”
For Denver, it can’t come soon enough.