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Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Dolphins susceptible to backbreakers


NFC West blogger Mike Sando posted a couple of interesting items with help from ESPN's Stats & Information crew.

Sando broke down the number of "big plays" achieved and surrendered by each team. A big play is defined as a run of at least 20 yards or a reception of at least 30 yards.

Behemoth charts can be viewed here: big plays gained and big plays given up.

The Miami Dolphins had the worst AFC East numbers offensively and defensively, showing how they've been prone to backbreaking plays.

The Dolphins rank 29th in big plays with 16 -- more than only the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals. The Dolphins' notoriously subdued receiving corps has gained at least 30 yards only seven times, the league's fourth-fewest.

Miami ranks 25th in big plays allowed with 30, and the pass defense is to blame. It has allowed just four runs of at least 20 yards, but has yielded a whopping 26 pass plays of at least 30 yards. That's tied for most.

The New York Jets and New England Patriots have struck the most impressive balance within the division.

The Jets have allowed 15 big plays, tied for second-fewest in the NFL. The Patriots are fifth with 17 big plays against.

Because their 15 runs of 20-plus yards are second in the NFL, the Jets rank tied for ninth with 29 big plays. The Patriots have one fewer, bolstered by 23 long pass plays.

The Buffalo Bills are tied for 22nd in big plays recorded and are tied for 21st in big plays allowed.