Upon Further Review: Dolphins run game tormented Broncos defense

The Miami Dolphins’ success in the run game against the Broncos on Sunday afternoon was a mix of head coach Mike McDaniel being Jimmy Neutron with his play calling and the offensive line being unstoppable.

In the third quarter of Denver’s 70-20 loss, the Dolphins were facing a third-and-10 with 8:53 to go when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was in the backfield with running back Raheem Mostert and rookie De’Von Achane lined up out wide. Tagovailoa faked a handoff to Mostert before tossing the ball to Achane in motion on an end around.

The Texas A&M product, who rushed for 203 yards on 18 carries, had multiple Denver defenders slipping and sliding as he ran 40 yards to the Broncos’ 5-yard line.

That was one of several plays that saw Miami use misdirection and motion to record 350 yards on the ground — the most in franchise history.

“They got to the edges early on,” Broncos head coach Sean Payton said. “Their wide-zone schemes got to our edges. There’s a little more coverage dedicated to staying on top of the receivers, particularly (Tyreek Hill). When you get an edge in some of those looks, it can be problematic.”

Mostert, Achane and running back Chris Brooks combined to average 8.3 yards per carry. Mostert and Achane had eight of the Dolphins’ 10 touchdowns. Miami’s left tackle Terron Armstead said the success of Miami’s run game rested on the offensive line’s shoulders.

On first-and-10 with 12:04 to go in the first quarter, Hill squatted behind the offensive line before motioning left. Tagovailoa tossed the ball to Mostert, who ran outside where fullback Alec Ingold blocked cornerback Pat Surtain II while Armstead held off linebacker Alex Singleton for a 15-yard gain.

“We try to create lanes and get those guys into the third level,” Armstead said. “That’s the goal, and it’s on them to make the safeties and the corners miss.”

A couple of plays later, Miami was in a shotgun formation with Achane beside Tagovailoa and Mostert lined up near the offensive line. Mostert motioned left while Achane received the handoff. He then ran behind Armstead, who delivered a mean block on Surtain as Achane burst down the field for a 26-yard run.

Achane had 112 of the Dolphins’ 221 rushing yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus. He averaged 6.2 yards after contact per attempt — a sign of the Broncos’ poor tackling.

“I think it’s a byproduct of a couple of things: leverage (and) speed,” Payton said. “When you’re a half-step behind, you’re not in control (and) not in a position to tackle properly.”

Extra Points

• On Sunday, Hill had the upper hand on Surtain. According to Next Gen Stats, Surtain allowed Hill to catch four passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Surtain aligned across from Hill on 13 routes and seven of those were in press coverage. Hill finished the game with nine catches for 157 yards — the most he has recorded against the Broncos in his career. Hill had a combined 82 receiving yards in his last three matchups against Denver.

• Speed kills. Achane ran 21.93 miles per hour on his 67-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, the fastest in the league this season, according to Next Gen Stats. The Dolphins have five of the fastest ball-carrier speeds this season.

• Broncos rookie cornerback Riley Moss made his season debut Sunday. Moss played 17 snaps on special teams but none on defense. Moss missed training camp due to core muscle surgery and was inactive for the first two weeks of the season.

• After the Broncos’ pass rush recorded four sacks in the loss to the Washington Commanders in Week 2, they were nonexistent against the Dolphins. The Broncos had two pressures and one quarterback hit, according to Pro Football Focus. Outside linebacker Randy Gregory didn’t have a tackle in 34 defensive snaps. This season, Denver’s $70 million man has six tackles and a sack. The Broncos are ranked 27th in the league in sacks with four and 28th in quarterback hits (12).

• Wilson completed 23 of 36 passes for 306 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Wilson has thrown for 300 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 2020. Wilson is ranked seventh in the league in passing yards (791) and eighth in passer rating (99.5).

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