The defensive line domination the Dolphins envisioned when they wrote “Ndamukong Suh” on the “Pay to the Order of” line on the big check this summer showed up early Sunday against Houston.
A running game the Texans needed to keep quarterback Brian Hoyer from being not-mobile-enough prey for the pass rush? Crushed early like Legos left in the driveway.
That left Hoyer harassed every snap. During the only half that mattered, he bit the dust four times, threw the ball away another three or four times, and ended up completing 6 of 23. Six three-and-outs and Reshad Jones’ interception return for a touchdown in Houston’s first seven drives.
“I quit charting [the defensive three-and-outs] after five. They got after them early,” Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell said. “You could tell it affected the quarterback. Those guys had some drops. I’m a believer that you’re kind of transferring your energy and most things play into that. They become contagious, drops do. So, it’s a good job by our defense.”
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The Dolphins led 41-0. The 44-26 final came after a second half played just to make things official.
“Decent game,” a semi-smiling Suh said afterwards in front of the Dolphins locker room. “We didn’t finish the way I thought we should finish, but we’ll definitely take it.”
Suh looked like this generation’s Mean Joe Greene, the player he had been in Detroit. Along with his first two sacks of the season, he had three quarterback hurries, three other tackles-for-losses and two passes batted down.
But if you came in from church or Home Depot late, this sequence ending Houston’s final first-half drive, with the Dolphins up 41-0, summarized things perfectly.
First-and-10 from the Houston 40-yard-line: Suh blasts off the line into right tackle Derek Newton and right guard Chris Clark. With Newton and Clark on Suh duty, defensive end Cameron Wake looped and shot up the middle. Clark lunged helplessly at Wake. Hoyer avoided Wake only to find Suh had dispensed with Newton. Loss of 7.
Second-and-17 from the Houston 33: Suh blasts by Clark and overruns Hoyer for another sack. Loss of 8.
Asked if he’d had sacks on consecutive plays before, Suh said, “Go back and watch the Dallas playoff game last year.”
Third-and-25 from the Houston 25: The Dolphins collapsed the pocket again. Wake swatted the ball from Hoyer’s hand. Clark recovered for Houston at the 19. Loss of 6.
“I want to contribute any way I can,” Suh said. “If it’s batting balls getting sacks, getting tackles, helping free guys up to make plays, I’m all about it. I want to be a part of the party, but at the same time I want to make a place for my teammates as well.”
Suh, like almost all the Dolphins, got asked what’s the difference between the Dolphins defense in the first two games under Campbell and the last four games under Joe Philbin.
“We’re executing we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” Suh said. “We’re playing hard. We’ve got great energy. We’re feeding off of each other. Offensie, defense and special teams. So, it’s a good storm and we’re going to continue to go with it, especially on Thursday [in New England].”
David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal