AFC East: division

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 3

December, 16, 2012

MIAMI -- Here are some thoughts on the Dolphins' 24-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

What it means: It means Miami (6-8) won its first game in December and snapped a two-game losing streak. The Dolphins are trying to finish the year strong and continue to progress under a rookie quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and rookie coach (Joe Philbin). Miami has already matched last year’s win total by beating Jacksonville (2-12) on Sunday with two games remaining.

Henne's rough homecoming: The Dolphins made sure to make Chad Henne's homecoming a rough one. Henne, Miami's second-round pick in 2008, played his former team for the first time and couldn't get in the end zone. Miami's defense knows Henne well and exposed him. He was 18-of-34 for 221 yards in a losing effort. Henne also was sacked twice and led Jacksonville to just three points.

Tannehill solid: Henne's replacement in Miami, Tannehill, played a solid game against the Jaguars. Tannehill made plays with his arms and his legs. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, Tannehill added 52 rushing yards. The Dolphins appeared willing to let Tannehill use his mobility more in this game. He had several designed runs that caught Jacksonville off-guard.

Fourth-down blues: Overall this was a sloppy game, and that was shown in the fourth-down execution. Jacksonville failed to convert on fourth-and-1 on two occasions, and Miami ran a head-scratching fake field goal in the third quarter. Miami kicker Dan Carpenter lined up for a chip shot, but punter/holder Brandon Fields caught the ball and threw it way out of bounds. The Dolphins could have gone up 10 points at the time. But Jacksonville is so bad that it didn't matter.

What’s next: The Dolphins will return to AFC East play for the remainder of the season. First, Miami will host the Buffalo Bills next weekend at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins will wrap up their 2012 season on the road against the division-champion New England Patriots. Miami lost to both teams in the first meetings.
The New England Patriots are expected to be without dynamic tight end Aaron Hernandez for the third straight game.

Barring any last-minute changes, a source tells the AFC East blog that it's "unlikely" Hernandez will play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. This confirms a report Friday by the NFL Network.

Hernandez continues to be bothered by a severe ankle sprain he suffered in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals. He returned briefly for two games, but probably came back too soon.

New England leads the NFL in total offense and can afford to rest Hernandez and get him healthy for the stretch run. After putting up career numbers in 2011, Hernandez has just 17 catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns this season.

This is a big game for New England. The Patriots are 6-3 and can create further distance in the AFC East. The Colts are also 6-3 and need this game to tighten their grip on a wild-card spot in the AFC.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 35, Raiders 13

September, 16, 2012

MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Dolphins' 35-13 blowout victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

What it means: Miami won the first game of the Joe Philbin era in convincing fashion and got back to .500. These are the games Miami must win this season. The Dolphins were at home against an awful Oakland team coming off a short week, and Miami took care of business. The Dolphins are trying to re-establish a home-field advantage after a long stretch of struggling at Sun Life Stadium. They did a good job of jumping on the Raiders on Sunday.

Bush plays big: Miami's Reggie Bush continues to prove he can be an every-down back. Bush worked hard in the offseason to improve his durability and had one of the best games of his career. Bush rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Bush took a lot of pressure off rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who played his most consistent game of the season. Tannehill threw for 200 yards and scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing).

Hartline reliable: Miami found a reliable weapon in the passing game in Brian Hartline, who got his first start of the season. Hartline ran crisp routes and caught the ball well. He finished with nine receptions for 111 yards.

Pass defense needs work: Miami’s secondary has played shaky the first two weeks. Oakland lost the game big but had a lot of explosive passing plays against Miami's defensive backs. Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 373 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

What's next: The Dolphins have a big division game next week against the New York Jets at Sun Life Stadium. This will be the first meeting since last year’s implosion by the Jets in Week 17. It will also be the first division game for Miami this season.