The Dolphins offensive line was finally intact.
And it couldn’t wait to take out its frustrations on the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.
"We were all tired of everybody calling us out and calling us soft," Branden Albert said. "We played physical today. We wanted to make a statement."
At least for one week, the Dolphins offense thrived they way they hoped it would entering the season.
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Albert and Laremy Tunsil each returned to the starting lineup after missing last week’s atrocious performance against the Titans.
The Dolphins surrendered a season-worst six sacks in that game.
That resulted in the dismissal guards Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas, who started at left tackle and left guard respectively in that game, earlier this week.
Tannehill was not taken down once by the Steelers on Sunday.
Although he did not throw for a touchdown pass, Tannehill was much more effective, throwing for 252 yards and no interceptions on 24 of 32 attempts.
But the bigger impact from the group’s dominance up front came in the running game as the Dolphins produced their first 200-yard rusher in nearly five years.
Jay Ajayi ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns, sealing the outcome with a 62-yard breakaway score in the final minute.
"That last play illustrated everything about this game and how we continued to play hard," Albert said.
Albert was back at left tackle with Tunsil manning in the interior at left guard, Mike Pouncey in the middle and Jermon Bushrod at right guard with Ja’Wuan James at right tackle.
Albert missed the past two games with an ankle injury and later an illness. Tunsil returned following an ankle injury suffered just before last week’s game. Pouncey returned for the Tennessee game after missing the first four with a hip injury.
"We were all healthy and I wanted to see what we could do," Albert said. "I think we could play ball and we could play physical."
The Dolphins were able to win the time of possession battle for a change.
Miami put together five drives of nine plays or more – three of which resulted in scores. One other ended with the Steelers blocking a 24-yard field goal attempt by Andrew Franks.
In turn, the fresher Dolphins’ defense was effective at holding the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger in check for most of the game.
"We had to give our defense a break," Bushrod said. "It was up to us to extend these drives and give the defense a chance to catch their breath and really see what they could do against a good quarterback."
The performance didn’t come without a few hiccups.
There was the poor first half by Ju’Wuan James, who committed three costly penalties in that half including a holding call and an illegal formation call that each derailed drives and forced the Dolphins to settle for field goals.
James and later Tunsil each was also battling heat-related cramps as the game went on which forced them to come out and the Dolphins to continue to shuffle around the lineup. Bushrod moved to right tackle at one point and Kraig Urbik played some snaps at right guard.
But the starting five were able to finish the game and get the results they desperately needed.
"When all five of us are out there together, we work well together," Pouncey said. "The communication is good between us. It was just great to go out there and get a win. That gave us confidence for the rest of the season."