When your football career goes from an undrafted, offseason signee and cut to a mortgage broker office to the Pro Bowl, from New Jersey to Vancouver to Miami across two leagues and a continent, you learn to stay mentally balanced. You swing with events at the risk of psychological nausea.
That’s why Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, after a spectacular four-sack game against Tennessee on Sunday, couldn’t be described as “giddy.” Wake looked just like a man happily facing an afternoon nap after a good day at work.
“I’m still the same guy from Week 1,” Wake said.
“We’re still the same team from Week 1. Same players with the same abilities. It’s playing consistently, playing together. Having enthusiasm and fun. That’s probably the difference. It’s not that the me today isn’t the me from two weeks ago. Other than the hamstring issue.”
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Which, obviously, was no issue Sunday, unlike in the Dolphins’ first four games when Wake managed just one tackle.
“Definitely better,” Wake said.
“Time is the best remedy to any kind of injury. Coming off the bye week is probably the perfect timing to get back into the mix of things, treatment and rehab, so forth. I just feel like having a great time and letting it all hang out today.”
Wake’s letting it all hang out resulted in the four sacks, one off the Dolphins’ single-game record shared by two 1973 performances, Bill Stanfill against the Jets and Vern Den Herder against Buffalo.
Wake also passed Doug Betters and Den Herder on the franchise’s all-time sack list, with his 67 sacks moving him right behind No. 2 Stanfill’s 67 1/2. Jason Taylor is No. 1 on the list at 131.0.
On Sunday, Wake got rookie right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi yanked after the second quarter for veteran Jamon Meredith. Meredith didn’t let Wake add to his sack total. Instead, he held, getting flagged twice.
For all the talk about the way fired defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle used or misused Wake, Wake said the Dolphins defense Sunday was the “same guys running the same thing. We just went out there and played hard. Believe in one another. We’ve had a lot of time, 10 days just to get after it in practice.”
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt agreed, explaining the Dolphins’ pass-rush stampede: “From what I saw on the field, it was more one-on-one situations where we weren’t holding up.”
Wake’s second-quarter performance helped the Dolphins take control of the game.
Tennessee, down 10-3, was driving for the tying score when Wake knocked the ball from Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota’s hand.
Mariota batted the ball forward, where Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins fell on it. What was originally ruled an incomplete pass was challenged by the Dolphins and overturned.
So that threat ended, but an interception brought the Titans right back into scoring range.
This time, when Wake caused the fumble, Jamar Taylor scooped it up and ran it back to the Titans’ 34. The Dolphins scored seven plays later for a 17-3 lead.