MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Knowshon Moreno transformation was on full display Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.
During the week, the Miami Dolphins running back is not loud in practice and doesn’t offer much to the media. But on Sundays, Moreno turns into an animated, energized "beast," as one Dolphins player described him.
Moreno proved to be Miami's spark in the team's 33-20 victory over the New England Patriots. Moreno rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. He ran his first carry just as hard as his 24th carry and let his teammates and Patriots defenders know about it along the way.
“It’s unreal. It’s unreal to see a guy basically become another person on game day,” Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry said. “He’s definitely a veteran guy with the years he’s put in, but he still comes to work like us young guys with that enthusiasm and the work he puts in. Game day is one of the days we look forward to seeing Knowshon. For us, he really shows up.”
How does Moreno do it?
“I have no idea, but whatever he’s doing I need to do, too,” Landry said laughing. “It’s been working since the third preseason game. He’s been playing out of his mind.”
It’s rare that a player can flip that kind of switch. Moreno finds a way to keep his emotions in check during the week and lets everything unleash on game day. The Patriots were his latest victim. Miami's inside trap play was a staple that led Moreno to average 5.6 per carry.
In fact, Moreno has been rough on New England as of late. He rushed for 224 last season against New England as a member of the Denver Broncos and added another 134 yards with the Dolphins on Sunday. Moreno was so excited during and after the game that he said he barely remembers his touchdown run.
“I think I'm a little too jacked up,” Moreno said when asked to describe his score. “I’m probably a little bit jacked up right now, too.”
Coming off his first 1,000-yard season, Moreno received little interest in free agency. The Dolphins were the first and only team to offer him a contract. Miami signed Moreno to a one-year, $3 million pact, and it is paying immediate dividends.
Moreno, who had a knee surgery this summer, started Sunday as the backup to Lamar Miller. But his production and energy were hard to ignore. Miami’s coaching staff gave Moreno 24 of the team's 38 carries.
If Moreno isn’t starting next week's game against the Buffalo Bills, something is wrong in Miami. Moreno gives the Dolphins' offense a new dimension and toughness between the tackles that they haven't seen since Ricky Williams.
“When somebody's got that type of energy and got that type of intensity, that puts it on everybody else to keep pushing,” Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert said. “That pushes us even more.”
It was a successful debut for Dolphins first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was smart enough to stick to the ground game and help keep New England quarterback Tom Brady off the field. Lazor put up 33 points in his first game in large part due to Moreno's performance. The Dolphins averaged just 19.8 points per game last season.
Meanwhile, Moreno will continue his weekly transformations during the week and on game days, while also transforming Miami's offense.