Razzle dazzle worked for the Miami Dolphins when little else went right.
Injuries depleted their front four, and penalties became a problem. The ground game disappeared, and the defense wearied on a 90-degree afternoon as the Oakland Raiders hogged the ball.
But Miami coach Adam Gase took advantage of speedy receivers Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant with creative play-calling, and the Dolphins overcame a 10-point deficit in the final 16 minutes Sunday to beat winless Oakland 28-20 .
“Sometimes it’s not going to be pretty,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “You have to have the grit and togetherness to stick it through and find a way to win.”
The surprising Dolphins (3-0) have done that every week so far, setting up an early-season AFC East showdown Sunday at New England. Here are things to know about Miami’s latest win:
EXOTICS: Wilson and Grant scored on jet sweeps, with each taking a short toss from Tannehill in the backfield and turning the corner into the clear. But the best bit of trickery was Wilson’s pass — the first of his NFL career — to Grant for a 52-yard score that put Miami ahead to stay.
The source of the play? Gase’s mentor, former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz.
“Just straight thievery,” Gase said. “I mean we stole it. It’s an old Martz play. Nobody watches his old stuff. They might now.”
WINLESS: The Raiders fell to 0-3 under new coach Jon Gruden, and have lost seven in a row dating to last season. Running back Marshawn Lynch, who rarely comments publicly, offered words of encouragement for Oakland fans.
“Most of our players are playmakers,” Lynch said. “Just one juke or spin move, or step out of one tackle, and we’ll have a different ballgame.”
Oakland plays at home Sunday against Cleveland.
KEEPAWAY: The Dolphins scored four touchdowns in just 39 plays. Oakland ran 74 and had a 17-minute advantage in time of possession.
“It was like death by a thousand paper clips,” Gase said.
Oakland’s ball-control approach took a toll on a Miami front four that lost three players. Akeem Spence was ejected, and William Hayes and Andre Branch suffered knee injuries.
That left Miami with only six defensive linemen on a sweltering afternoon.
“They were gassed,” Gase said. “They were fighting, though. That’s why I love our locker room.”
The Dolphins also overcame nine penalties for 74 yards, and won even though their running backs totaled 15 yards on 11 carries.
TAKEAWAY: Cornerback Xavien Howard intercepted Oakland’s Derek Carr twice deep in Miami territory. Howard outmaneuvered intended receiver Martavis Bryant on the second pick, when the Raiders were on the verge of regaining the lead with three minutes to go.
“I saw one on one with Martavis, and I took a chance,” Carr said. “They just made a good play.”
Said Howard: “It was game-changing. It meant everything. It took the soul out of them when I caught the interception.”
Two plays later, Wilson scored on a 74-yard catch and run to seal Miami’s win.
The Dolphins have seven interceptions. They totaled nine all of last year.
TAKING A TOLL: Gruden — among others — appeared physically drained by the subtropical heat.
“It affected me,” he said. “It was hot. It was hot for them, too.”
Raiders tackle Donald Penn (concussion) and safety Karl Joseph (lower leg) sat out the second half. Receiver-returner Dwayne Harris (dehydration) required an IV.
For Miami, tight end A.J. Derby (foot) sat out the second half, and cornerback Bobby McCain was shaken up in the final minutes.
Source: The Associated Press