By Mike Berardino
Sun Sentinel columnist
6:23 PM PDT, October 14, 2012
Three Things to consider from Miami Dolphins 17, St. Louis Rams 14:
Thing 1: Since pounding out 448 combined rushing yards against the Raiders and Jets, the Dolphins' run game has been in a slump the past three weeks.
Even Joe Philbin admitted a good portion of the bye week will be spent on trying to reverse a downward trend that saw the Dolphins rush for just 19 yards on 18 attempts Sunday.
However, left guard Richie Incognito has a pretty good theory on what's been happening.
"We’ve been seeing a lot of defenders in the box," Incognito said. "Eight in the box, nine in the box. That's why I think the pass game has been going so well for us. If they’re going to come up and fill the box on us, we’re going to hit them with the pass. We’ve shown we can do that."
Thing 2: Ryan Tannehill just keeps getting better.
His first three NFL weeks, his completion percentage was .529 (54 of 102) with one touchdown and four interceptions.
The past three weeks it has soared to .667 (64 of 96) with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Best of all, he has shown a great feel for when to check out of running plays and into safe, short passes.
"I think that’s the most impressive thing about Tannehill," Incognito said, "is he’s putting us in good situations and he’s making a lot of checks at the line. It’s very rare to see a rookie do it like that. He knows exactly what we want to do and when we want to do it. He’s really been putting us in a good position."
When I asked Tannehill about that, he downplayed his run-to-pass checks and said it was more about run-to-run checks against the Rams. Incognito, however, was more willing to give the kid QB some credit.
"With that quick huddle, sometimes we just go up there and see what they’re doing and kind of call the play from there," Incognito said. "It was a bunch [of checks]. A lot."
Thing 3: Even with Tannehill throwing 29 passes, Brian Hartline got shut out.
The NFL's leading receiver in terms of yardage wasn't officially targeted a single time, though he did draw an 11-yard pass-interference call (on Bradley Fletcher) on one pass that sailed into his area during the third-quarter touchdown drive.
Another time in the second half Hartline was overthrown, but the Rams were whistled for a 15-yard penalty for (barely) striking Tannehill in the facemask.
Hartline was slowed by a quadriceps issue in practice last week. That, combined with tight coverage by veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan, could have had a lot to do with his first catchless day since the Giants and Chiefs shut him out in back-to-back weeks at midseason last year.
"Listen, they had us out of rhythm," Philbin said when I asked what the Rams were doing to stop Hartline. "They mixed in their pressures well, they mixed in some bump coverage and some off coverage. We just never got in a position where we were real effective moving the football."
He did not specifically explain what was happening with Hartline, who seemed to struggle all day to create separation.
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