During the off-season, the Miami Dolphins traded away Jarvis Landry one of their top players to the Cleveland Browns receiving only a fourth-round pick in return. A move that reflected poorly on the Dolphins organization at the time. However, spending less on a receiver allowed Miami to address other areas of need, as they signed Albert Wilson formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs to a three-year team friendly deal. Today that move paid off a Wilson carried the Dolphins to a 28-20 win over the Oakland Raiders with two earth-rattling plays to boost the Dolphins to a 3-0 start.
Albert Wilson a South Florida Native born and raised in the shadow of the New York Mets spring training home in Port St. Lucie knows about great expectations turning into big letdowns was at the heart of the Dolphins win, but it was not easy as the Raiders were in control for three quarters. The Dolphins on paper should have been favorites, after winning their first two games playing the winless Raiders who had to travel cross-country and play in the early game, always a game ripe with peril for teams from the west coast. The Dolphins though have often let down in this situation, as they have only started 3-0 once in the last 30 years.
As they have in the first two games, the Raiders got off to a fast start, quickly taking the opening drive down the field in less than 90 seconds to take a 7-0 lead, as the Dolphins secondary looked lost early with Reshad Jones inactive with a shoulder injury. The key play was a 61-yard pass from Derek Carr to Jordy Nelson. The drive was also completed with a 12-yard catch in the end zone by Nelson. After the Dolphins were unable to move the ball, the Raiders starting a drive on their own four marched down the field and looked ready to go up two touchdowns. However, as they did two weeks ago, Miami’s defense was stout and turned Oakland away with Keith Smith getting stuffed on fourth and goal from the one by Akeem Spence and Davon Godchaux.
The goal line stance helped breathe life in the Dolphins, but the defense that kept them in the game lost a key player early in the second quarter when William Hayes hurt his knee on a sack of Derek Carr. The sack helped swing field position in Miami’s favor as they scored on the ensuing drive, with Ryan Tannehill completing a 34-yard pass to Kenny Stills to tie the game. The Raiders would answer, as Akeem Spence became the third Dolphins defender on the sideline as he was ejected giving the Raiders a fresh set of downs to wipe out a Cameron Wake sack. Fortunately, the Dolphins defense was in bend but don’t break mode as Oakland settled for a 25-yard field goal by Mike Nugent. The Dolphins had a chance to answer before the half, but two penalties and a sack knocked them out of field goal range.
After holding a 10-7 lead at the half, the Raiders appeared to still be in control as their first drive of the second half resulted in a touchdown by Marshawn Lynch, to cap a 15-play 67-yard drive that nearly took ten minutes off the clock, as the Dolphins defense with three key pieces began wilting in the South Florida heat. Trailing by ten points for the first time all season, the Dolphins needed just four plays to answer, with Jakeem Grant catching an 18-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to make the score 17-14 as the game headed down to the fourth quarter.
Trailing all game, Miami used trickery and cunning to take the lead. Getting the ball near midfield, Ryan Tannehill handed the ball to Frank Gore, who tossed it to Albert Wilson, who then ran a reverse and threw downfield, connecting with Jakeem Grant on a 52-yard touchdown pass that electrified Hard Rock Stadium as the Dolphins were suddenly in front 21-17. Wilson a quarterback at Port St. Lucie High School, lobbied Coach Adam Gase for a chance to make that type of play. The Raiders though appeared pose to answer and retake the lead marching down to the Miami 13-yard line. Looking for the big play Derek Carr threw a pass up for Martavis Bryant, but the X-man stepped in to save the day, as Xavien Howard picked Carr off for his second interception of the game. Looking to run out the clock, Miami did one better as Albert Wilson caught a small dump off pass from Tannehill and raced 74 yards to seal the win. The Raiders would get a field goal with their last drive, but Miami got a 28-20 win, improving to 3-0 on the season. As the Raiders dropped to 0-3, after having led at halftime in all three games.
The Dolphins got a strong game from Ryan Tannehill completing 17 of 23 passes for 289 yards, with three touchdowns and is the Frankie Fins Player of the Game. Tannehill also led Miami in rushing with 26 yards on three carries. Jakeem Grant had two touch receptions, totaling 70 yards. On defense, Kiko Alonso had another big day, with a team leading 15 tackles.
The win was especially important for the Dolphins as they enter a tough three-game stretch, beginning with a Week 4 showdown with the New England Patriots in Foxboro. The Dolphins have not won at Gillette Stadium in a decade when Tom Brady was out with a knee injury a game where the Dolphins reintroduced the Wild Cat to the world. Which is followed by a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals before coming home to face the Chicago Bears.