Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins don’t run away from ground-and-pound philosophy

Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) on a carry in the second half as the Miami Dolphins host the Baltimore Ravens at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, December 6, 2015.
Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) on a carry in the second half as the Miami Dolphins host the Baltimore Ravens at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, December 6, 2015. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Dan Campbell probably knows the statistic.

And if he doesn’t know the exact specifics, the essence of the Dolphins’ 10-0 record since 2014 when rushing the ball at least 24 times is at the core of his football identity.

I wanted to show the coaches that we can run the ball when we want to.

Lamar Miller

Run the ball, and play defense — that might feel like an antiquated mantra in today’s football, but not to Campbell, the Dolphins’ interim coach, and not to running back Lamar Miller.

The Dolphins ran 26 times Sunday for 137 yards in a 15-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens at Sun Life Stadium. Miller had 20 rushes for 113 yards and a 5.7 average.

Before Sunday, Miller had played in 31 consecutive games without getting at least 20 carries.

“I think it’s great,” Miller said of the emphasis on running.

“The offensive line did a great job getting movement. I was just trying to be decisive and hit the hole when I got my opportunity. I wanted to show the coaches that we can run the ball when we want to.”

The Dolphins passed the ball just 19 times for 86 yards — the lowest total for quarterback Ryan Tannehill since he had 82 yards in a 10-0 loss at Buffalo in 2013.

Those 19 tosses Sunday were in stark contrast to the 58 passes Tannehill threw last week in a 38-20 loss at the New York Jets. After that game, the Dolphins fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and put 32-year-old first-time play-caller Zac Taylor in charge.

The result might not have been an artistic success — just one offensive score — but it was a win for the struggling Dolphins (5-7), and that was enough for center Mike Pouncey.

“Our mindset was to run the ball,” Pouncey said. “Our game plan may be different next week and let Ryan throw the ball 58 times like you guys want.”

It’s obvious from that comment that the offense was feeling a bit defensive over the lack of production in terms of points.

Things would have been far worse for the offense had it not been for the defense, which came up with a goal-line stand, three sacks, two interceptions, including one pick-6, and a big stop in the final minutes after Miller fumbled at Miami’s 41.

Miller had hit a big hole on a 17-yard run when he was tackled from behind by safety Kendrick Lewis, who jarred the ball loose. Linebacker Courtney Upshaw recovered the fumble.

“When I fumbled, I felt like I let the team down,” Miller said. “That’s something I have to be responsible with — I have to be [careful] when I’m holding the ball.”

Miller said he never saw Lewis.

“I was just trying to make [a tackler] miss,” Miller said. “Once I tried to stiff-arm him, a guy came up behind me. I didn’t feel anybody behind me. Usually, I feel somebody behind me.”

Fortunately for Miller and the Dolphins, the Ravens felt the Dolphins defense. And Miami’s renewed emphasis on the run passed the test.

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