The Dolphins defense was dominant in Sunday's 24-0 win over the Jets. The shutout effort - the franchise's first since 2014 - tallied just 3.8 yards per play and 15 stops on 17 third down attempts by the Jets offense.
The theme in Miami's victories this season continues to be the fast start. For the third time in as many wins, the Dolphins raced out to a 14-0 lead, and extended the halftime lead to 21-0 behind a sterling defensive effort. The double-digit point differential is the third time Miami has won by at least 10 points this season. The last time the Dolphins won at least three games by 10 or more points in the same was the same as the last shutout in 2014.
"These guys like playing together," Brian Flores said. "So, when other guys make plays, you see a lot of excited and energy. That's what I like to see; guys who enjoy the process of practice, meetings and then putting it all together on Sunday afternoons. They're just happy for each other and are kind of reaping the fruits of their labor."
The Jets possessed the ball eight times in the first half totaling 32 plays, 93 yards and just five first downs. Miami was a perfect 8-for-8 getting off the field on third down and limited the Jets to just 2.8 yards per play in the opening half. Cornerback Xavien Howard generated the lone takeaway of the game for Miami with his fourth interception of the season - tied for the most in the NFL with Washington's Kendall Fuller.
"I had a feeling for what was coming," Howard said of the interception. "A lot of teams have been giving me a lot of overs (crossing routes), especially against Cover 1. It's hard when they run away from you but I worked to just undercut it to get to the ball."
"The ball finds me, man," Howard added when asked about being tied for the league lead in interceptions.
Howard, over the last four seasons, is the NFL's premier ball hawk. The interception gives him 16 since December of 2017 despite playing in 28 of the possible 43 games. It's the most in the league in that span.
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins tallied sack in the first half with some help from linebacker Sam Eguavoen. The pair teamed up on a stunt to get the Jets quarterback to the ground. Emmanuel Ogbah joined in on the fun by ending the Jets opening drive of the third quarter with his fourth sack of the season. He ended another Jets drive with a sack in the fourth quarter that created a massive loss of 28 yards.
Ogbah has a full sack in each of the last three games and at least a half sack in the last five games.
"We've been doing a lot of different things. Showing multiple looks," Wilkins said. "These guys work hard and want the quarterback. We work hard to get him."
"On the sack, Sam (Eguavoen) did a good job setting me up," Wilkins added. "He did a counter move inside, hit the center and I came free. I have to find him because I know for a fact I wouldn't have made that play without Sam."
The Dolphins offense found success early by turning to second-year running back Myles Gaskin. Miami opened the scoring with an eight-play, 64-yard drive that featured four rushes for 40 yards (three for 35 from Gaskin). The second-year back chipped in with a pair of receptions (one of which he pinned to the side of his helmet with one hand) for an additional 12 yards. Gaskin piled up 84 scrimmage yards in the first half and finished the day with 126 yards from scrimmage.
The first scoring drive was capped off with a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to a wide open Adam Shaheen; he came open on a play that looked similar to the touchdown to open the 49ers game. Shaheen later set up his positional counterpart, Durham Smythe, for Miami's third touchdown of the game with a 43-yard reception running free down the middle of the field. Smythe capped the drive on a play similar to the one in which Shaheen concluded the first drive on -- running parallel to the goal line and hauling in a perfect throw from Fitzpatrick near the pylon in the front right corner of the end zone.
Despite the 24-point win, Shaheen says the Dolphins offense can produce more.
"We're happy we're putting points on the board, but we left some out there today," Shaheen said. "We'll work hard to get better."
Preston Williams caught the other of Fitzpatrick's three touchdown passes - his third in the last four games.
Miami's defense carried its dominant start into the second half. Zach Sieler was a consistent force in the backfield working down the Jets defensive line, shedding blocks and greeting the ball carrier close to the line of scrimmage. Sieler also made a big stop on a screen pass at the end of the half by cutting down the back a yard short of the marker, preserving Miami's perfect third down record to that point.
Eric Rowe made 10 tackles in the game and broke up a pass. Wilkins had the aforementioned sack, five total tackles and two batted down passes.
"We got contributions from a lot of guys and they played for 60 minutes," Flores said. "I'm proud of that effort and that's the focus we need throughout the week."
The Dolphins entered their final offensive possession without a third down conversion. Rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa saw the first action of his career and completed two passes for nine yards, including Miami's lone conversion on third down.
"I feel healthy," Tagovailoa said. "It was a great play call by Chan (Gailey) to get things going for me. It was an easy completion."
As Tagovailoa came onto the field, nobody was cheering harder than 16-year veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Flores was asked post game about that relationship and if he saw Fitzpatrick leading the cheers.
"I honestly didn't see that, but that doesn't surprise me," Flores said. "Those guys have a great relationship. They root for each other and that's how the relationships are building throughout the team."
Fitzpatrick also commented on the relationships inside the Miami locker room.
"I would say we're still a work in progress but we're definitely heading in the right direction," Fitzpatrick said. "I think we brought in the right kind of guys and I think everybody's meshed really well. To get a couple in a row and sitting at 3-3 going into the bye is a good feeling, and I think we're coming together as a team."
The Dolphins even up their record at 3-3 with point differential of +46 points. The win pushes Miami into second place in the AFC East before the bye week. Up next, a home date with the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8.