Miami Dolphins

All aboard the Jay Train! Ajayi tops 200 again as Dolphins beat Bills 28-25

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) celebrates as the Miami Dolphins host the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, October 23, 2016.
Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) celebrates as the Miami Dolphins host the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, October 23, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Go ahead, try. Dare you.

Try to explain Jay Ajayi’s insane rise from NFL also-ran to fantasy god. Good luck.

A couple of Dolphins executives took that challenge Sunday, shortly after Ajayi became just the fourth running back to rush for 200 yards in back-to-back weeks.

And their explanation makes as much sense as any other you’ll hear: We’re finally healthy up front.

All four first-round picks on our offensive line are finally playing together, the argument continued, and what you’re seeing is what we had envisioned all along: Physically overwhelming wins against playoff contenders.

And that’s what they’ve done in the past eight days. Ajayi and the suddenly cohesive offensive line have given Dolphins fans reason to care about a season that two weeks ago looked lost.

With 214 yards and a touchdown on 28 attempts Sunday, Ajayi literally carried the Dolphins to a 28-25 victory over the Bills — simultaneously ending the Bills’ four-game winning streak and giving the Dolphins their first winning streak of any length in 2016.

When Ajayi lit up the Steelers for 204 yards a week ago Sunday, he was a feel-good story, but few outside of Miami considered it more than a one-week novelty.

The Miami Dolphins defeated the Buffalo Bills 28-25 on Sunday October 23, 2016.

Dozens of running backs have topped 200 yards in a game, and not all of them were stars.

Jerome Harrison, Michael Turner, Napoleon Kaufman and Beanie Wells all went for 200 in a game, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of the industry to correctly name whom each played for when they did.

But to do so in consecutive weeks?

Only three others have done it. Two — O.J. Simpson and Earl Campbell — are Hall of Famers.

And the other might be if he didn’t quit football to move to Australia.

Yes, Ricky Williams is the other name on that impressive list. Williams went for 228 and 216 yards in early December 2002. Those are also the top two rushing performances by any Dolphins player ever.

“Those are Hall of Fame guys, guys that I look up to at running back, so it’s big,” Ajayi said. “It’s crazy. It’s crazy to imagine that it’s happening so fast like this.”

Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins running back, has back-to-back 200-yard games to join an elite class of three other NFL running backs.

Here’s how crazy: If Ajayi had stopped playing after the Dolphins’ first drive, the 46 yards he gained still would have been the third-highest rushing total of his career.

Of course, the Dolphins weren’t going to let that happen. More specifically, Mike Pouncey wasn’t going to let that happen.

Pouncey, who missed the season’s first four games because of a hip injury, pestered Dolphins coach Adam Gase throughout the game to “keep running it.”

“That might have gotten into my head after a while,” Gase said. “I trust those guys up front. Those five together play well together, and then Jay just seems to have a good feel for how they’re blocking things.”

By “those five,” Gase means the Dolphins starting offensive line: Pouncey at center, Branden Albert at left tackle, Laremy Tunsil at left guard, Jermon Bushrod at right guard and Ja’Wuan James at right tackle.

Miami Dolphins Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase talk about running back Jay Ajayi after the Miami Dolphins defeat the Buffalo Bills 28-25.

Last Sunday marked the first time all season that line was on the field.

In the eight quarters since, the Dolphins have rushed for 478 yards, averaged 6.1 yards per carry — and surrendered just one sack.

Ryan Tannehill, barely touched all Sunday, completed 15 of 25 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. In the last two weeks, his season passer rating has jumped four points.

“It just shows when we’re an offensive line that’s all playing together and all guys are healthy, we can do special things,” Pouncey said. “That kid [Ajayi] overcame so much. It just makes me smile every time I think about it, because a lot of guys would have tanked and went the other way.”

Pouncey continued: “Getting benched right after thinking you’re starting the season off and then to come back and to play the way he’s playing, I hope it opens up a lot of guys’ eyes.”

One play in particular opened them wide. The Dolphins, who trailed by as many as 11 points Sunday, were down 17-14 and pinned inside their own 5 early in the fourth quarter.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins WR, regrets his high hit on Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams. Williams was transported to the hospital after the game with a neck injury.

On second-and-8, Gase called an inside-zone run to the right. Ajayi found a crease and sprung loose for a 53-yard gain. The big play flipped the field, and and helped lead to the Dolphins’ go-ahead touchdown on their next drive.

“He’s amazing, amazing,” Jarvis Landry marveled.

And running behind a suddenly formidable line, Ajayi might just be getting started.

Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins WR, had a big catch in the fourth quarter for a touchdown but also didn't win the competition with a Buffalo Bill's defender for a long pass to him in the third quarter.

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