The wins keep coming at home as the Dolphins secured their 17th victory in the last 19 starts at Hard Rock Stadium. The offense captured an early lead and the defense never relented, maintaining that one-score advantage across nine consecutive possessions.
Here are the three takeaways from Miami's 20-13 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders:
1. Return of the Jalen (Jaelan)
In seven games without Jalen Ramsey, the Miami defense forced seven takeaways. In the three games since his return from a training camp knee injury, Miami has taken the ball away five times - three of which courtesy of interceptions from Mr. Ramsey himself.
"Both interceptions were out of control in difficulty level," Head Coach Mike McDaniel said. "I think the whole team has gotten a little bit better to a degree since he's been on our team or since he's been back and that's the type of effect that players of that caliber can have on people."
Defensive points allowed have reduced to 14.6 per game since Ramsey's return. His impact is helping the rush produce top 10 numbers.
Ramsey isn't the only returning Jalen to make his mark - outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips picked up two sacks and his first career interception in the win. After missing three of the first five games, Phillips has five sacks, four tackles for loss and six QB hits in the last four games.
2. Winning the trenches
The Dolphins climbed to 11th in pass defense and ninth in stopping the run thanks in large part to a team effort. They are ninth in sacks (31), seventh in pressure rate (24.8 percent) and fourth in QB hits (74).
Last season, the pass rush was getting to the quarterback, but the ball was frequently coming out faster than the rush could get home. Now, with Ramsey in the fold and a healthy Xavien Howard covering the other side, the impact of a dominant rush is being felt.
Phillips' interception came at the cost of a sack from defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Raiders QB Aiden O'Connell was parallel to the ground when he heaved a desperation attempt on fourth down. Still, Wilkins' 4.5 sacks this season tie a career high, but the effort play on the following drive was the personification of Miami's star defensive tackle.
Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow broke several tackles enroute to a 31-yard reception. The man who got him down was the 310-proud, 95 percent snap-taking Wilkins.
"If you ever watch him at practice and you watch him in games, he does that literally every snap that the ball is down the field," McDaniel said. "That's what happens when you have players like that that have standards with which they go about their game, that you raise the level of everyone."
The Dolphins also limited the NFL's defending rushing champ (Josh Jacobs) to just 39 yards on 14 attempts.
3. Next man up
The offense has been dealing with attrition all season. Miami started its seventh new offensive line combination in 10 games, was without starting tight end Durham Smythe, and running back De'Von Achane left the game after just one carry.
Tyreek Hill exited the game for one drive with a hand injury, but later returned. On the possession without Cheetah, Miami scored what would qualify as the game-winning touchdown, going primarily through Jaylen Waddle. Tua Tagovailoa completed three consecutive passes to the Penguin for 36 yards.
Without Achane in the fold, Salvon Ahmed punctuated the drive with an 11-yard receiving touchdown on third-and-long.
Ahmed had to exit the game late, leaving the Dolphins with just one available running back. Luckily, it was a battle-tested veteran in Raheem Mostert, who carried the rock 22 times for 89 tough yards. He averaged better than four yards per rush after contact and gave Miami physical, critical yards late in the game.
For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.