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Key matchup: Dolphins running game vs. Seahawks run defense

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Posted Nov. 23, 2012 @ 12:32 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The Dolphins are in must-win territory while the Seahawks attempt to get over their road woes in this Week 12 game, and Miami will try to get its run game going against one of the league’s best defenses.

Dolphins running game vs. Seahawks run defense

Week Three was a long time ago for Miami’s running game. The Dolphins rushed for 185 yards against the Jets that day, which followed a 263-yard rushing performance in Week Two vs. the Raiders. In the seven games since, the Dolphins have yet to reach 100 yards rushing, averaging 69.3 yards a game, and less than three yards a carry.

In their loss to the Bills, the Dolphins couldn’t even muster much on the ground against a poor Buffalo run defense. The Bills did well to contain the edges to keep Reggie Bush from bouncing outside. Second-year RB Daniel Thomas has improved, but he’s still not the 4-yard-per-carry back Miami would like to get between the tackles as Bush’s complement. The O-line hasn’t helped the cause either, as OGs John Jerry and Richie Incognito and ORT Jonathan Martin have struggled.

The inability to run the football has put more pressure on rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, who has thrown five interceptions in the last two games. Going against an extremely talented Seahawks secondary, and having to stare down a fierce Seattle pass rush, Tannehill would be best served handing off to his backs to get the offense moving.

Up front for Seattle, DTs Alan Branch and Brandon Mebane and rookie MLB Bobby Wagner help stuff runs up the middle, with DEs Red Bryant and Chris Clemons patrolling the edges. The Seahawks are 11th in the league defending the run and didn’t allow a team to rush for more than 87 yards until Week Seven. However, the 49ers rushed for 175 yards against Seattle in Week Seven and the Vikings rumbled for 243 in Week Nine.

Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore and the Vikings’ and Niners’ offensive lines, respectively, are definitely a notch above the Dolphins’ rushing attack, and Miami will need to get creative. First and foremost, the tackles and wide receivers will need to hold their blocks on the edge to find opportunities to spring Bush down the sideline.

The Seahawks’ offense is not formidable and has struggled on the road, and this game has the potential to be low-scoring. Any big play the Dolphins can get out of Bush or the run game could help be the difference. With games coming up against the 49ers and Patriots, establishing the run vs. Seattle would be a nice confidence boost for the Dolphins.

For Seattle, the run defense has been gashed twice in the last four games, and its defense will want to put the game in the hands of Tannehill. If Seattle can bottle up the run, it will set up 3rd-and-long situations, allowing pass rushers Clemons and DE Bruce Irvin to wreak havoc.

The Dolphins are reeling, losing three in a row to teams that, on paper, they certainly could have beaten, and the season is close to getting away from them with a brutal late-season schedule. If they can go back to what worked early in the season and get Bush going, the Dolphins can make things easier for their rookie signalcaller and their defense, and end their losing skid. 

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