Here are five additional thoughts and observations:
The Lions might have provided the first blueprint for stopping Miami's read option. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a lot of success running that play this season and entered the game averaging 7.9 yards per carry. But Detroit made sure to keep a defender on Tannehill, which often forced the handoff to the running back. Tannehill had 0 yards on two carries. Detroit also did a good job of constantly hitting Tannehill during the read option and when passing. That took a physical toll on Tannehill and made him think twice about running.
It was a lot of fun watching the game within the game between Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Both players brought their “A” game and made big plays. Johnson beat Grimes deep for a 49-yard touchdown catch in the first half, and Grimes responded with a one-handed interception against Johnson in the third quarter. Still, I’m not sure how you stop Johnson unless a defense constantly double- and triple-teams. Grimes played Johnson about as well as you can, and Johnson still finished with seven receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Branden Albert’s knee injury means Dolphins rookie first-round pick Ja'Wuan James now is in the spotlight at left tackle. James has been one of the NFL’s top offensive rookies with nine straight starts at right tackle. He has done a good job of plugging the spot right away to protect Tannehill’s front side. But moving to the left side means James must handle the opponent’s top pass-rushers each week. The pressure on James will be higher moving forward.
Dolphins starting running back Lamar Miller didn’t look himself on Sunday. Miller, who has a shoulder injury, gained just 10 yards on four carries. It was clear he was playing hurt. The Dolphins ran the ball just 19 times total, and rookie free-agent pickup Damien Williams led the team with 34 yards on seven carries. It is doubtful Miller will get close to 100 percent before Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
Speaking of the Bills, Thursday’s game will mark the third different Buffalo quarterback Miami has faced in the past three games. Last season, Miami native Thad Lewis led the Bills to complete a season sweep over the Dolphins. EJ Manuel led Buffalo to a Week 2 win over the Dolphins in September. This week veteran Kyle Orton will face the Dolphins. Orton has added stability and good decision-making to Buffalo’s offense. He has a 98.4 passer rating with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions.