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Dolphins use defense, not Marshall, to climb atop AFC East

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Posted Sept. 20, 2010 @ 2:29 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Raise your hand if you had the Dolphins being the only undefeated team in the AFC East through Week Two?

That's what I thought.

And even if some of you did have the Dolphins starting 2-0, you probably didn't think they would get there thanks to their defense.

The Dolphins beat the Vikings in Minnesota for the first time since 1979, leaning on clutch defensive plays. Cameron Wake's sack and strip of Brett Favre in the endzone led to a TD when Koa Misi pounced on the loose ball. The secondary picked off the future Hall-of-Fame QB three times, and the Vikings were 1-for-4 on fourth down, including getting stuffed on 4th-and-goal at the Miami 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

The PFW Spin

We knew the Dolphins were going to have an improved defense with coordinator Mike Nolan's new schemes and high-priced free-agent ILB Karlos Dansby in the mix, but few people expected them to look this good. And the Vikings had two extra days of rest and lots of motivation after falling flat in their season opener.

The biggest surprise, though, came in the extremely inexperienced secondary. CB Jason Allen, who received the starting job before Week One, had two interceptions and a career-high 11 tackles. CB Vontae Davis, who hauled in an acrobatic interception, received quite the compliment from Brett Favre. "Number 21, I felt like, was one of the best corners in the league, especially that no one knows about," Favre said. Davis, who was picked on plenty in his rookie season, seems to be the shutdown corner the Dolphins were looking for when they drafted him in the first round in 2009.

But the offense continued to struggle. Despite two big plays (a 51-yard run by Ronnie Brown and a 46-yard catch by Brandon Marshall), the Dolphins could not get into a rhythm.

The biggest concern lies in the passing game, an aspect of the offense that was supposed to be drastically improved with the addition of Marshall but ranks 28th in the league through two games.

QB Chad Henne got the protection he needed on Sunday but the Dolphins stuck with their strength on the ground. If they want to stay atop the AFC East and win their home opener against the Jets in Week Three, the passing game needs to get going.

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