ATLANTA -- Suddenly no one wants to bench Jay Cutler. No one is mocking the Miami Dolphins with memes of a Dolphin snorting cocaine. Suddenly a team that seemed to be going off the rails last week with home fans booing, and offensive line coaches resigning, and players losing their tempers on the sideline and calling out fans days later, gets a respite from the lunacy.
That’s what an impressive and improbable 17-point comeback victory does. It buries a bad week.
The Dolphins get a respite from the nuttiness now because this 20-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons provides that relief. It changes the subject. Indeed, it changes the conversation.
The Dolphins, gasping for breath all last week under a sea of trouble, earned much-needed breathing room on Sunday.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but we’re a team that’s gone through a little adversity whether it’s on the field or off the field,” guard Jermon Bushrod told a reporter after the game.
“Our mindset is we got to embrace it because what else are you going to do? It’s tough. It was a tough week. With all the news, it was a tough week. And we can either let it divide us or we can come together. I think we came together.”
This is where I provide you an edited and carefully worded synopsis of all the trouble the Dolphins waded through the past week, most of it of their own making:
Performed horribly offensively for the third consecutive week against Tennessee, making the first home victory of the season feel about as satisfying as an oxygen sandwich.
Hours after the win, a video of offensive line coach Chris Foerster emerged in which he was snorting cocaine in his office at the team’s training facility. Foerster resigned the next day.
The Foerster video went viral and turned the Dolphins into a social media punch line.
When folks got bored talking about Foerster, they returned to the weathered conversation about benching quarterback Jay Cutler because he struggled for the third consecutive game last week.
Part of the Cutler discussion included the fact he and the offense were booed in what amounted to Cutler’s first ever game as Miami’s quarterback at Hard Rock Stadium. That booing included calls for backup Matt Moore to take over and it angered receiver Jarvis Landry, who then called fans “embarrassing” for thinking Cutler should be benched.
As weeks go, last week was the Dolphins equivalent to Black Monday 1929 multiplied seven times.
And the festivities continued during the first half of this game.
The Dolphins dropped five passes to go with the five drops last week. Four of those drops came in the first half.
The Falcons scored the first two times they had the ball. And then they scored again to forge a 17-0 halftime lead. Yeah, not good.
The Dolphins offense, meanwhile, lost starting center Mike Pouncey to a concussion in the first half. Landry had three drops. And Cutler had an interception and a quarterback rating of 39.
There’s a name for this kind of stuff:
“Inept,” coach Adam Gase said.
And so it seemed as if the Dolphins were adding to their litany of yuck. It seemed as if this game was already out of reach for a team that hadn’t scored more than 17 points in any of the previous three games.
Amazingly, Cutler said afterward the Dolphins went into the locker room at halftime feeling “confident.”
I guess that’s true because Miami took the second half kickoff and kept the ball 15 plays in driving 75 yards to score only its second offensive touchdown in three games.
And then there was another TD.
And Landry, who finished with eight catches, seemed to be his old electrifying self. And running back Jay Ajayi was gashing the Atlanta defense on his way to a 130-yard day.
The defense joined in, too. It limited Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to 97 passing yards in the second half in shutting out the Falcons.
It was ...
Fun to watch.
And now that it’s complete, there’s fruit to enjoy from this game: There’s increased confidence for everyone -- the offense because some of its stuff actually worked, and the defense because it shut out a pretty good Falcons offense in the second half.
“Once you go out there and do it and put up some points, I’m talking offensive side because the defense has been solid all year, offensively you can look at the film and say, ‘Hey guys this is an example of how it’s done. This is the feeling you should feel as it happens,’ “ Cutler said.
“You experience it and you know it’s not just talk. You can make it happen.”
Cutler, it should be said, had something of a breakout game. His team was down 17-0 and he authored 20 unanswered points. CBS said it was the first time in Cutler’s 12-year career he led a comeback from so far back.
“Well, it’s not easy to do,” Cutler said.
Something else out of this game: The bench Cutler calls have to stop. They’re misplaced and, really, they’re not going to cause change because the guy who has the final vote on the matter wasn’t listening before and really isn’t after this game.
“That’s why we don’t listen to anything,” Gase said. “I don’t care what anybody else says. I’m going to do what I’m going to do and I’m going to do what’s best for the team. That’s how we’re going to operate. That’s how we did it last year.
“I know the direction we’re heading. I watch practice every day. I go through these steps with all these guys and understand if we’re practicing well, why aren’t we doing well during the game. And I feel like [Cutler] is doing a lot of good things. But we just got him in August and you know what? We’re little bit behind where I thought we’d be.
“But this is the first step. We put together two pretty good drives at the end of the Tennessee game. We had things going on today, we didn’t finish the drives in the first half, the second half we did. And I think the longer we keep going the better we’re going to get.”
Yeah, this was a great way for the Dolphins to bury a bad week.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero