For almost three quarters last Thursday, the Miami Dolphins packed very little punch against the Buffalo Bills, falling behind 9-3 at home.
Well, the Dolphins then erupted for 19 unanswered points, held the Bills out of the end zone for 60 minutes and won, 22-9, to improve to 6-4.
“It was a good win,” Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins said on The MoJo Show. “I’m proud of everybody on the team. It was a hard-fought battle. They played well. We played well and made more plays than they did at the end of the day.”
Miami beat Buffalo after losing to Detroit, 20-16, four days earlier. Brian Jones, for one, hates the idea of Thursday night games. It’s extremely difficult for players to recover from one game and get mentally and physically prepared for the next.
“I think our coaches did a great job of changing up the schedule and making sure we got ample recovery time,” Jenkins said. “(They) kind of let us sleep in a little bit more than usual and took a lot of the full-speed reps out of the practice this week that we usually do. So we were able to recover pretty well.”
Jenkins said that he and others got multiple massages earlier in the week to keep their muscles fresh and loose.
“It just takes a few more things to prepare yourself,” he said.
As it stands, Miami has won four of five to stay within striking distance of England in the AFC East and in the thick of things in the Wild Card standings. That’s a stark contrast to last season, when the Dolphins started 3-0 but went 5-8 the rest of the way.
Why the change in attitude this season?
“I just think that we’re a resilient group,” Jenkins said. “We’re young, but we also have some veteran players to help out a lot of the young guys. I think we just play hard. We got a lot of good character guys in the locker room. And defensively, we’ve been in that scheme for three years now, so I think everybody’s just settling down. We’re able to play fast and play hard. I think we want it more.”
It also helps that Ryan Tannehill, 26, continues to mature in his third year in the league. Tannehill went 26-of-34 for 240 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo and has 17 touchdowns to just seven interceptions on the season.
Jenkins, 22, sees a bright future for Tannehill.
“I expect him to be elite,” Jenkins said. “I have all the confidence in the world in him. He’s getting better and better every game. I think his decision-making skills are great. I think he’s starting to realize how much of an impact he can make running the ball. I think he’s going to be elite. I think he’s still learning and he’s still a young quarterback in this league and has the potential to be really, really good.”
The Dolphins play three of their next four on the road, including a Nov. 23 game in Denver and a Dec. 14 game in New England. While the Broncos and Patriots are all but assured of playoff spots, there are at least a half a dozen teams in the AFC vying for two Wild Card spots.
“That’s the NFL,” Jenkins said. “Everybody’s chasing that trophy.”