Are you ready for some football on Monday night? I know I am. The (3-0) Dolphins vs. the (3-0) Saints in New Orleans on Monday Night Football on ESPN from the Superdome in New Orleans (the sight of last year’s Super Bowl).
It is Showdown time for 3-0 Dolphins and Saints.
Dolphins are 3-0 for the 1st time since 2002, and as they cameback in dramatic fashion last week at home to beat the Falcons 27-23.
If you want a high-scoring matchup, then this is game for you.
If you want a game featuring awesome quarterback play, then this is the game for you.
This game will feature a showdown of the emerging star in Ryan Tannehill vs. the future Hall of Famer in Drew Brees.
Lets’ look at the stats of these extraordinary quarterbacks:
Tannehill: 71-107 (66.7%), 827 yards (249 yards/gm), 4 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 2 Fumbles lost, 94.3 QBRating. http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/stats/_/name/mia/miami-dolphins
Tannehill has been money in the 4th quarter. The Dolphins’ montra has been to Stay Close. Get the game to the fourth quarter and then seize control. That has been the calling card of the Miami Dolphins through the first three games and if they realistically have a chance to upset the New Orleans Saints tonight, it must hold true once again.
The fourth quarter has been the Dolphins time. Look at the numbers. Rewind the games. The Dolphins haven’t given up a fourth quarter touchdown all season. They have outscored their opponents 17-3. This isn’t some coincidence. This is a mindset. It was stressed all offseason.
“It comes from the top on down,” said veteran guard Richie Incognito.
Indeed, this has been a mission of sorts for Coach Joe Philbin. Emphasize the two-minute drill. Step up in the fourth quarter and at the end of the first half. Make plays. Eliminate mistakes. They practice it. They preach it. They live it.
You think it’s a coincidence that against Atlanta, after giving up five sacks through three quarters, the offensive line was flawless in the fourth quarter?
“We haven’t ever been this prepared for the two-minute drill,” added Incognito. “We just have a mindset. The way we play in the fourth quarter, field goals are a cardinal sin. We want touchdowns.”
Incognito even suggested that having Thursdays off this season has helped the team in the fourth quarter. “I feel better on Fridays than I have in years,” he said. “It carries over to Sunday and that carries over to the fourth quarter.”
When the schedule first came out, I had this game tonight circled as the most difficult test of the season. The Saints, from top to bottom, are as talented as any team in the league. Add to that having to play them at their house (uh, Dome) and on a raucous Monday night, and the challenge becomes even more imposing.
I would have told you before the season to chalk this one up in the “L” category and move on to next Sunday against Baltimore. Now, I’m not so sure.
Yes, with the Saints at 3-0, the challenge is as formidable as I had anticipated. But it’s the Dolphins who are a different team, the Dolphins who have shown in the first three games that they can beat any team on their schedule – especially with that fourth quarter statement.
I expect the crowd to be wild tonight. I expect the Saints to come out and deliver a punishing blow to the Dolphins early on. That’s the way Drew Brees and that offense plays. But if the Dolphins can weather that early surge, if they can stay close, if Ryan Tannehill can find enough holes in the Saints secondary, then the fourth quarter could matter. And that should be the goal heading into tonight.
When you evaluate the first three games, you see a clear upgrade in Tannehill’s play in the fourth quarter. Look at his fourth quarter totals: 21 of 29 for 192, one touchdown and no interceptions. That’s heady stuff.
Tyson Clabo told me this week that when Tannehill entered the huddle on the first play of that final drive against Atlanta, he looked at his teammates and simply said: “Let’s take about four minutes and go score a touchdown.”
And that’s exactly what Tannehill did. “Next time he says that,” Clabo said. “we’ll think back to Atlanta and know that he means business.”
Tannehill says this fourth quarter shift from a year ago has a lot to do with chemistry. “It’s an inner desire,” he said. “We all know we have to do everything in our power to play as well as we can. We know that time is running out so we play like it. I think that has more to do with it than any one play we might call in the fourth quarter.”
But it’s not only the offense. On defense, two of this team’s five interceptions and five of their nine sacks have come in the fourth quarter.
While three games is a small sample size, we’ll know a lot more after tonight. There is little doubt the Dolphins need to play their best game to have a realistic shot. That means forcing turnovers, finding balance on offense and, most important of all, protecting Tannehill.
But it also means continuing this fourth quarter trend. The Dolphins have become very proficient at finishing what they started. Now we’ll see if they can pull it off amid the enormous glare of the Monday night spotlight and against an opponent that will test you like few others can. http://www.thefinsiders.com/blog/2013/andy-cohen-tonights-challenge-is-to-make-the-fourth-quarter-matter?_ga=1.145321140.1827748444.1380560710
Tannehill has gotten into such a rhythm with his wideouts. Look at these numbers for his wideouts:
Brian Hartline: 18 catches, 238 yards (79.3), 2 TD’s, 29 targets
Charles Clay: 14 catches, 203 yards (67.7), TD; 19 targets
Mike Wallace: 12 catches, 152 yards (50.7), TD; 20 targets
Brandon Gibson: 14 catches, 137 yards (45.7); 20 targets
Here is a touching story about Wallace, who is playing for the 1st time in front of his older brother as pro. Nice homecoming present.
BY ADAM H. BEASLEY
Mike Wallace has big plans for Monday night’s national television audience — two, if not three, touchdowns, and of course, a win over his hometown New Orleans Saints.
But Wallace’s greatest feat of strength might be keeping his composure.
Wallace will be playing in his beloved New Orleans, against his best friend and in front of his big brother, finally back in his life after being absent for so long.
“You don’t want to put too much into it,” Wallace said last week during a marathon media session in advance of Monday’s game. “You don’t want to get too emotional. Things can go bad for you.”
In a way, he has already won. He has made it, with the $60 million contract signed in the offseason all the proof needed. His mom, Sonjia, is long retired; she spends her days learning new recipes on the cooking channel. Family members are in South Florida almost as much as they’re in the Bayou.
And schoolmate-turned-lifelong friend Keenan Lewis will be where he belongs: lined up opposite him, with an entire year’s worth of bragging rights at stake.
“We’ve been looking forward to this,” said Lewis, the Saints cornerback who was on Wallace’ high school team a decade ago.
“This is a guy who talked the whole summer, trash-talked about how he was going to do this and that. I’m pretty sure he’s heated up right now and I’m heated up.”
But this is ground already covered.
So is Wallace’s deep emotional bond to New Orleans, a city he and his family was forced to flee when Hurricane Katrina ripped the roof off their home. There’s no hiding Wallace’s feelings for his hometown; he has its logo — the fleur-de-lis — tattooed to his neck.
But Monday night’s game, in front a raucous Superdome crowd, will be truly special because of who else will be there: His big brother Reggie.
Reggie Wallace wasn’t at the game in 2010 when his little brother first returned to New Orleans as a pro. He was in prison.
Mike is more than a decade younger than Reggie, so while they used to play catch in the neighborhood, the two never played on any teams together growing up.
Little brother stayed out of trouble — starring at O. Perry Walker High School, the University of Mississippi and ultimately with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Big brother couldn’t avoid it.
A role model
“He wasn’t doing the things that I was trying to do,” Mike said. “That’s my big brother and I love him to death. He was my role model, but I really didn’t want to follow him.”
Reggie Wallace’s New Orleans Parish arrest record dates to 1992, when he was caught illegally carrying a weapon. He has since pleaded guilty to a string of theft and drug charges that kept him locked up for most of Wallace’s pro career.
But he got out in June, and is now on a steady road to rehabilitation, with Mike Wallace helping keep him on the right path.
They have spent the past three months making up for lost time.
Reggie recently spent two weeks in South Florida. But that was just prelude to Monday night.
At long last, Mike Wallace will get to play professional football in front of his big brother.
“This is exciting,” the Dolphins’ star receiver said. “It feels like he’s out there with me. He’s going to be at the game, make a lot of noise.”
When asked whether Wallace would give his brother the football, should he catch a touchdown, he chuckled. Probably not, he said.
Making a statement
Wallace has never scored in the stadium that has been a symbol of his great city’s revival.
That’s why he needs to catch two, if not three Monday night (Mom will want one, too).
And although Wallace understands that this is a business trip, he made it a point to escape the team hotel for a couple hours during the weekend.
He has reserved 20 tickets to Monday’s game, going only to the closest of his close. He can’t wait to give Reggie his.
“I really want to be around him as much as possible,” Mike Wallace said. “That’s my brother. I love being around him.”
Here are some Fun facts about the Dolphins on Monday Nights from: http://www.miamidolphins.com/news/article-1/INSIDE-THE-NUMBERS-The-Dolphins-And-Monday-Night-Football/4a4f914f-90c9-4e8a-8edd-a164bc277a2f
The Dolphins are going back to a familiar spot in Week 4 — “Monday Night Football.”
Since the NFL started MNF in 1970, no team has appeared in the game more often than the Dolphins. The game against the New Orleans Saints will be the Dolphins’ 79th on “Monday Night Football” and they’ll add an 80th on Nov. 11 when they travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers. The Dallas Cowboys are second to the Dolphins with 74 appearances, and they’ll be making their 75th later this season when they travel to Chicago.
The Dolphins have been a fixture on “Monday Night Football” since it started in 1970, with last season marking only the fourth time they weren’t part of that schedule.
It should be noted that two Dolphins games were played on Monday night after originally being scheduled for a Sunday. The first came in 1997 when Sun Life Stadium became unavailable for the Dolphins’ game against the Chicago Bears because the Florida Marlins were playing — and winning — Game 7 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The second came in 2003 when the Dolphins-Chargers matchup was postponed a day and moved from San Diego to Tempe, Ariz., because of wildfires ravaging Southern California.
The game against Chicago was one of three overtime games the Dolphins have played on Monday Night Football. The other two were memorable — for different reasons.
The first came on Dec. 8, 1980, and any devoted fan of music and/or The Beatles will tell you that was the night John Lennon was assassinated. Doing the telecast on ABC, Howard Cosell delivered the tragic news during the game, which the Dolphins eventually would win, 16-13.
The other, of course, came on Oct. 23, 2000 in a game that later was voted by fans as the best ever on Monday Night Football. It was the “Monday Night Miracle,” as the Dolphins saw the New York Jets erase a 30-7 deficit early in the fourth quarter to stun them, 40-37.
That was the highest-scoring game the Dolphins have ever played on MNF; the lowest-scoring affair was a 3-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 in the rain and mud at Heinz Field.
While the Dolphins haven’t had as much success on MNF recently, they still maintain a 40-38 record thanks in large part to them winning in their first seven appearances:
1970, at Atlanta, 20-7
1971, vs. Chicago, 34-3
1972, vs. St. Louis, 31-10
1973, at Cleveland, 17-9
1973, vs. Pittsburgh, 30-26
1974, vs. N.Y. Jets, 21-17
1974, vs. Cincinnati, 24-3
The Dolphins finally lost for the first time on Monday Night Football in their season opener in 1975 when Oakland left the Orange Bowl with a 31-21 victory.
The 40 Monday night victories are tied for third with the Pittsburgh, behind the 43 amassed by both the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.
The Dolphins currently are on a three-game losing streak in Monday night games, but perhaps it’s a good omen that they’ve never lost more than three in a row on MNF.
The last Dolphins victory on Monday night was the thrilling 31-27 decision against the New York Jets in the 2009 when Ronnie Brown scored the game-winning touchdown with six seconds left in the fourth quarter.
That victory is part of the Dolphins’ 15-22 record in Monday night games decided by seven points or less. One of those losses came in the Dolphins’ only previous Monday night appearance in a dome, a 35-30 thriller against Earl Campbell and the Houston Oilers in 1978.
On the flip side, the Dolphins are 9-5 in games decided by 20 points or more, their latest victory in that department being a 41-6 rout of the Colts in 2001.
The Dolphins’ nine lopsided victories (20 points or more) are as follows:
2001, vs. Indianapolis, 41-6
1991, vs. Cincinnati, 37-13
1986, vs. N.Y. Jets, 45-3
1983, vs. Cincinnati, 38-14
1978, vs. New England, 23-3
1978, vs. Cincinnati, 21-0
1974, vs. Cincinnati, 24-3
1972, vs. St. Louis, 31-10
1971, vs. Chicago, 34-3
Including the victory at Tempe in 2003, the Dolphins are 7-17 in Monday night road games, and 33-21 at home.
When it comes to individual numbers, the Dolphins hold a few “Monday Night Football” records, both single-game and career marks.
In terms of career records, Dan Marino holds the marks for career passing yards with 9,654, almost 600 more than second-place Brett Favre. Marino’s record could last a long time — if it’s ever broken at all — considering no active quarterback has more than 5,148 yards. Marino also has the record for career TD passes with 74, five more than Favre and 32 more than third-place Steve Young.
As far as single-game performances, safety Dick Anderson holds the record for most interceptions with his four in that 1973 victory against Pittsburgh. That’s also tied for the NFL record for any regular season game. Among those tied for second with three interceptions in a Monday night game is former Dolphins safety Charlie Babb, who did in the 1975 opening-night loss against Oakland.
Mark Clayton and Lamar Thomas, meanwhile, share the record for most touchdown catches in a Monday night game with three. Clayton did it in the 1984 season finale against Dallas, while Thomas accomplished his feat in a late-season victory against eventual Super Bowl champion Denver in 1998.
Finally, Ricky Williams has the second-best rushing performance ever in a Monday night game with his 216-yard effort against the Chicago Bears in 2002 when the Dolphins wore all-aqua uniforms and won 27-9. The only running back to top Williams’ output was the incomparable Bo Jackson, who rushed for 221 yards for the Raiders against the Seattle Seahawks in a 1987 game.
Also remember that Williams’ performance came eight days after he had rushed for a team-record 228 yards in a loss at Buffalo.
This is the first time that two teams will meet on Monday Night Football with records of 3-0 or better since Oct. 5, 1998, when the 4-0 Vikings defeated the 4-0 Packers, 37-24, at Lambeau Field, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Dolphins are looking to become the fifth franchise to have at least seven 4-0 starts since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, joining the Rams (nine), Vikings (eight), Colts (seven) and Cowboys (seven).
Teams Meeting on MNF
Both 3-0 or Better
|2013||Dolphins (3-0) at Saints (3-0)||?|
|1998||Vikings (4-0) at Packers (4-0)||Vikings|
|1997||Patriots (4-0) at Broncos (5-0)||Broncos|
|1996||Dolphins (3-0) at Colts (3-0)||Colts|
|1992||Cowboys (3-0) at Eagles (3-0)||Eagles|
|1979||Cowboys (3-0) at Browns (3-0)||Browns|
|*Since series began in 1970|
The Saints are looking to start 4-0 for the fourth time in franchise history and first since starting 13-0 in 2009 when they went on to win the Super Bowl.
Drew Brees has won eight straight starts on Monday Night Football, with 24 touchdown passes and five interceptions. Brees is 10-2 on Monday night since joining the Saints in 2006.
Ken Stabler (11 from 1975-80), Steve Young (10 from 1995-99) and Joe Montana (nine from 1988-94) are the only starting quarterbacks with longer win streaks on Monday Night Football.
We know about the quarterbacks and wide-receivers, but tonight’s game could come down to who runs the ball better? Lamar Miller or Pierre Thomas. That segways into the keys to the game for Dolphins..
Saints Defense Last 2 Seasons
|Opp Rush YPG||147.6||111.3|
|Opp Pass YPG||292.6||184.3*|
|*4th in NFL (both categories)|
About the Author
Written by Daniel Saviuk
My name is Daniel. I love the Miami Dolphins (been a fan since I was 10)...