There were times when the game was nearly unwatchable.
And then Reggie Bush made it impossible to blink.
Bush with a pair of electrifying second-half touchdown runs sparked the Miami Dolphins to a 35-13 victory against the Oakland Raiders Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins (1-1) won their home-opener for the first time since 2005. It was also the team's first victory under coach Joe Philbin.
Bush finished with 172 yards on 26 carries, and was greeted with an ovation from the crowd when he left late in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided. The fans chanted his first name at various moments of the game because of his performance.
"It felt good, obviously," Bush said. "I'm not going to lie and say it doesn't. It's great to hear and know that the fans are there."
Bush had been contained the first half before breaking free in the third quarter. With the Dolphins trailing 10-7 and the offense struggling to capitalize on opportunities, Bush woke the announced crowd of 54,245 with a 23-yard scoring run.
He broke four tackles on his way to the end zone.
"I tried to get back up field quickly as possible to get that first down," Bush said. "I ended up breaking that tackle and I felt that the linebacker and the safety kind of over ran me. The only person left was the cornerback, so I was able to break his tackle and score a touchdown."
Four minutes later, he struck again with a 65-yard touchdown run to put the Dolphins ahead 21-10 with 3 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the quarter. Afterward, center Mike Pouncey joked the team's new slogan is "Run Reggie Run."
"Again, that's a play that we probably put in on our first day of training camp," Philbin said. "It's not a fancy play, it's just a zone blocking play, outside zone blocking. I'm sure they're (the Raiders) going to look at the tape and say they probably should have had better support and those types of things. But, good effort, good finish down the sideline."
Miami finished with 263 yards rushing on 43 carries. Rookie running back Lamar Miller, playing in his first game, rushed 10 times for 65 yards.
"We know what kind of running game we have and we know what we're capable of," Bush said. "So we felt like that's the foundation of our offense. We've got to be able to run the ball."
Bush's runs injected energy into a game that early on was dominated by inconsistent offense. The teams had combined for 11 punts before Bush brought the excitement. His play appeared to spark the rest of the offense.
After the Raiders pulled to within 21-13 on a 27-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski, the Dolphins responded with an 8-play, 80-yard scoring drive. The possession was capped with tight end Anthony Fasano catching a 14-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill, the first touchdown throw of his career.
Tannehill completed 18 of 30 passes for 200 yards and rushed for a touchdown. It was the perfect bounce back game after being intercepted three times in his professional debut last week against the Houston Texans.
"I had great protection," Tannehill said. "Guys were making plays for me down the field. We were able to establish a run game. That takes a lot of pressure off, able to use some play-action because of the run game and I think the balance of things really helped take the pressure off."
With the offense running, the defense was able to keep the Raiders in check for the most part. Oakland was just 1 of 12 on third downs and forced to punt nine times. The Dolphins allowed just 23 yards rushing on 14 carries. They entered the game with the strategy of making the Raiders beat them with the pass.
"We felt good going into this game about the secondary matchups," cornerback Sean Smith said. "We wanted them to throw the ball."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times