The Dolphins looked like they were about to get their doors blown off after the first quarter against the Eagles last week. It took Philly four plays to march 64 yards and score a touchdown on its first offensive drive of the game. Then, Miami gave up a safety as its quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, was sacked in the end zone on the first play of its second drive after committing a false start to kick things off. The Eagles marched 78 yards on the next drive to score another touchdown, a 1-yard run by Ryan Mathews.
Thanks to a field goal on their first offensive drive of the game the Dolphins weren't completely shut out in the first quarter, but with the score 16-3 and the Eagles driving into Miami territory heading into the second quarter, it still felt like the makings of an old fashioned ass kicking.
The Dolphins needed somebody on their defense to step up and make a play ... or two ... or 10 ... and who better to do that than their big free agent acquisition from this spring, Ndamukong Suh, my Hoss of the Week for Week 11.
There is no denying that to this point Suh has not had the year he or the Dolphins anticipated when they signed him to be a $100 million man in March. However, there is definitely still time for him to get things turned around. I hate using a contract as a factor to judge a guy's performance, but if you give a guy that much money, the expectations are bound to be sky high.
I don't know if a light went off or what. Maybe the Eagles' play calling suddenly afforded Suh more opportunities to make plays. Whatever the reason, the guy was a helluva lot more productive than I have seen him in most of the games this year from literally the moment the second quarter started.
On the first play of the second quarter, first-and-10 at the Dolphins' 47-yard line, the Eagles tried to run some kind of counter/draw toward their left tackle with Mathews. Suh, who was playing a G alignment head up on the right guard Matt Tobin, slipped behind the Tobin's zone block attempt. For some odd reason, Eagles right tackle Dennis Kelly elected not to block Suh on that play and Suh made a hard right turn to chase Mathews down from behind for a 5-yard loss. That's the kind of play that usually gets an offense way off schedule.
The Eagles, however, countered by hitting tight end Brent Celek for a 40-yard gain on the next play, a corner route that took them all the way down to the Miami 12-yard line.
What does Suh do?
Oh, he just sacked Bradford, who was attempting to throw the ball off a bootleg action, on the very next play. So first-and-10 at the Dolphins 12-yard line turned into second-and-17.
After an incomplete pass on second down the Eagles completed a screen pass to Mathews on third-and-17 that he turned into a 5-yard gain.
Guess who chased him down. No, seriously, just guess.
Yep, there was Suh's big ass chasing Mathews down from behind and limiting him to just 5 yards.
If you are counting at home, the Eagles had run five plays in the second quarter at that point and Suh made plays on three of them. And the Eagles ended up missing the field goal to keep the score at 16-3.
On the next drive I saw something that I haven't seen enough of this season from Suh. He put Tobin on skates and drove him all the way back to the quarterback. Bradford's pass to Mathews on third-and-14 with 6:45 left in the second quarter ended up falling incomplete and Suh's pressure helped end the drive with a punt.
One of my criticisms of Suh early on this season was that when I watched the film, I just didn't see him being nearly as effective with his bull rush as he had been in years past. Hell, Suh's bull rush was kinda his thing, so to see him not crushing fools on Sundays was concerning. I don't know what changed, but he looked like his old self against the Eagles.
I swear after the first quarter it seems like every time the Eagles crossed or got close to midfield, Suh found a way to make a play. It happened again with 1:37 left in the first half. Philly started at its own 33-yard line and after four plays it had a first-and-10 at the Miami 44-yard line. This time the Eagles tried to run a zone play with Darren Sproles, but Suh was having none of it. Once again lined up head up on Tobin in a G alignment, Suh got up the field and chucked Tobin before beating center Jason Kelce. Sproles had no chance. It happened so quickly as he was wrapped up for a 3-yard loss. After two more plays another promising drive ended with a punt.
It happened again on the first Eagles drive of the fourth quarter. The Dolphins had just scored a touchdown to take their first lead of the game since the 8:51 mark of the first quarter, 20-16. Philly, trying to answer, went from its own 20-yard line to the Dolphins 46 with the help of a personal foul call on, you guessed it, Ndamukong Suh. On first-and-10 the Eagles again tried to run zone toward Kelly, this time with starting running back DeMarco Murray.
Suh was lined up in a G alignment. Tobin and Kelce tried to do a combo block on him where Tobin knocks him inside and Kelce is supposed to turn Suh inside. This time Suh didn't even attempt to stay in his gap, instead electing to go all WWE and hip toss the center out of the way before swallowing Murray up in the backfield for a loss of 3 yards.
This time the Eagles were able to overcome the lost yardage and continue matriculating the ball down the field, eventually making it all the way down to the Miami 18-yard line. It's here where I want to point out a play that doesn't show up in the stat sheet for Suh, but one he helped make.
Philly had second-and-6 and was threatening to score to retake the lead. The Eagles decided to run a zone with Murray toward Kelly yet again. This time Suh was lined up in a three technique on an outside shade of the right guard. I don't know if Suh was trying to stunt inside or if his get-off had him going that direction instead of straight up the field. What I do know is that Tobin completely whiffed on his reach block attempt, which left the Kelce to try to block Suh all by himself.
I am not exaggerating when I say Suh knocked Kelce a legit 5 yards into the backfield, forcing Murray to take a wider track than I'm sure he wanted to on his run. That allowed Dolphins linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to tackle Murray for a 1-yard loss of his own. After a failed pass on third-and-7 the Eagles ultimately had to settle for a field goal to cut Miami's lead to one point, 20-19.
It would be their last points of the game.
I had Suh with 10 total tackles, which included a sack, three tackles for a loss and a hustle play where he chased down Mathews from behind on a screen 17 yards downfield. That tally doesn't included another tackle Suh made on Mathews for no gain that was negated because of a penalty on the Eagles. It also doesn't include the three other pressures he had as a pass rusher.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of stat line you expect from a $100 million dollar defensive lineman. He directly contributed to the Dolphins pulling out that one-point victory after such a rough start. I hope to see more games like that from him the rest of the season.
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