Stats & Info: Cameron Wake

Keys to victory: Dolphins 22, Bengals 20

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
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What were the keys to the Miami Dolphins' unusual 22-20 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals?

Wake up
Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake had only 2.5 sacks in his first six games of the season, but he had three of Andy Dalton in Thursday's game, including the game-ender in overtime.

It was the third overtime safety in NFL history. The others were by the Vikings against the Rams in 1989 and the Bears against the Titans in 2004.

The Bengals had all sorts of trouble against the Dolphins' pass rush, particularly when Miami blitzed a defensive back.

Dalton was 3-for-11 for 20 yards and three interceptions when the Dolphins pressured him with a member of their secondary.

Dalton tied a career high with his four turnovers. One of the picks resulted in a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown by Brent Grimes, the longest returned for a score by a Dolphin since Brock Marion brought one back 100 yards against the Bills during the 2001 season.

Dalton entered the game as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league. He had the most touchdowns and highest yards per attempt since Week 6.

Fields day
Dolphins punter Brandon Fields won what turned into a battle with Bengals punter Kevin Huber in a matchup of two of the best punters in the NFL.

Fields averaged 48.9 yards on his eight punts, netting 42.8 per kick. His 52-yarder in overtime pushed the Bengals back to their own 8, giving the Dolphins the opportunity for the game-ending sack. Fields entered the day averaging 48.8 gross yards per punt, second-best in the NFL.

The Dolphins also got what they needed from kicker Caleb Sturgis, who atoned for an early miss with a game-tying field goal with 11 seconds left. Sturgis was 2-for-3 in this win after going 1-for-4 in the previous two games.

The ground game
Miami chewed up yards on the ground early, rushing for a season-high 157 yards (one more yard than it had against the Patriots last week). The 142 in the first half were their most in an opening half since Week 17 of the 2002 season against the Patriots.

The Dolphins had 85 rushing yards after contact, the most by any team against the Bengals this season

Lamar Miller’s 105 rushing yards (57 of which came after contact) were a career best.

Top things to know: Dolphins at Saints

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
1:47
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Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsSean Payton (left) and Drew Brees (right) look to start 4-0 for the 1st time since 2009.
The Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints meet tonight on Monday Night Football (8:25 ET/ESPN). This will be the Dolphins' 79th appearance on Monday Night Football, the most all-time since the series began in 1970 (the Dallas Cowboys are next with 74 appearances). The Dolphins are 40-38 on Monday Night Football.

Here are five stats Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden might touch on tonight during the telecast.

1. This is the first time that two teams will meet on Monday Night Football with records of 3-0 or better since Oct. 5, 1998, when the 4-0 Vikings defeated the 4-0 Packers, 37-24, at Lambeau Field, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Dolphins are looking to become the fifth franchise to have at least seven 4-0 starts since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, joining the Rams (nine), Vikings (eight), Colts (seven) and Cowboys (seven).

The Saints are looking to start 4-0 for the fourth time in franchise history and first since starting 13-0 in 2009 when they went on to win the Super Bowl.

2. Drew Brees has won eight straight starts on Monday Night Football, with 24 touchdown passes and five interceptions. Brees is 10-2 on Monday night since joining the Saints in 2006.

Ken Stabler (11 from 1975-80), Steve Young (10 from 1995-99) and Joe Montana (nine from 1988-94) are the only starting quarterbacks with longer win streaks on Monday Night Football.

3. The Saints' defense has made remarkable strides under new coordinator Rob Ryan. They rank fourth this season with 295.7 yards allowed per game after allowing a league-record 7,042 yards (440.1 per game) in 2012.

In addition, the defense has surrendered 17 points or fewer in all three games after allowing just over 28 points per game in 2012.

4. The Dolphins will be without pass rusher Cameron Wake, who's expected to miss two to three weeks with a sprained left MCL. Since the start of 2010, Wake has 40 sacks, third in the NFL behind DeMarcus Ware and Jared Allen.

As a team, Miami has sacked or put the opposing quarterback under duress on 35 percent of dropbacks this season, the best mark in the league.

5. Jimmy Graham caught nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' win against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, combined with his 179-yard performance in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Graham has recorded the highest yardage total (313) by a tight end in two consecutive games since 1996, when Shannon Sharpe posted games of 153 and 161 yards for the Denver Broncos (314 total).

D-Gaps: pick six paves way for wins

December, 17, 2010
12/17/10
8:41
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When Josh Wilson of the Baltimore Ravens stepped in front of a pass intended for the Texans' Kevin Walter and sprinted 12 yards into the end zone in Monday's win at Houston, he became the 17th player in league history to return an interception for a game-winning score in overtime, and the first since the Bears' Charles Tillman in 2005.

Josh Wilson
Wilson
If Ravens fans were looking for a hero to save them from losing yet another game after leading in the fourth quarter, Wilson would have been a surprisingly good bet. The interception returned for a TD was his fourth since 2008. Over the last three seasons, only Packers cornerback, and former Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson has more (six).

Not all pick-sixes wrap up a win as definitively as Wilson’s, although it sometimes seems that way. This season, teams that have returned an interception for a touchdown in a game went on to win more than 87 percent of the time (34-5). That’s the highest rate since 1977, when teams with a pick-six went 23-3 (88.5 percent).

Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, teams that return an interception for a touchdown in a game are 1,187-343-3, a winning percentage of 77.5. Teams with multiple interception return TDs in the same game have been virtually unbeatable, now 95-4 after the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday behind pick-sixes from Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley.

Wake making late push for sacks title
Cameron Wake
Wake
Two sacks on the Jets' final three offensive plays Sunday gave Miami Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake an NFL-best 14 sacks this season. That’s tied for the seventh-highest single-season total in franchise history.

Wake became just the second player with a pair of sacks in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter this season. John Abraham sacked Carson Palmer twice late in the Falcons' Week 7 win over the Bengals.

Suh, Lions defense not holding own in middle of field
Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Detroit Lions defensive line have been given credit -- in this blog and elsewhere -- for their impressive results in getting to the quarterback this season. Detroit’s defensive line has combined for 32 sacks this season, the second-most by any defensive line behind only the New York Giants (33.5).

However, a bit more discipline in the run game couldn’t hurt. Detroit is allowing 5.2 yards per rush on carries in between the tackles this season, the most in the league by a wide margin. To find the last time the Lions allowed as many as five yards per carry in between the tackles, you only have to go back to 2008. That’s when Detroit surrendered 5.0 yards per rush up the middle en route to the first 0-16 record in league history.

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