Dolphins winning despite allowing lots of yards
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) The Miami Dolphins gave up a season-worst 589 yards last week against the Buffalo Bills, allowed five first downs in overtime and still won.
''We didn't stop them,'' Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said, ''but when we needed to, we did.''
That sums up the defense. The Dolphins are on pace to set a franchise record for the most yards allowed in a season, but they're 10-5 and headed for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Miami ranks third-worst in the NFL in yards allowed (382 per game), and next to last in rushing yards allowed per play (4.9, worst in franchise history).
''I would hope for better numbers,'' defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. ''But we care about winning. The stats are the stats. I've been on a team where my last year in Houston we were 2-14, but we were No. 1 in defensive stats. I'll take this.''
Coach Adam Gase will take this, too.
''I've been on teams where we were No. 1 in every category,'' he said. ''We came in second, and nobody cared.''
Miami has given up 5,726 yards, 324 shy of the franchise worst set in 1986. The record could fall when the Dolphins face New England and Tom Brady in Sunday's regular-season finale.
The Patriots will test the Dolphins' soft run defense with running backs LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis and James White, who have combined for 22 touchdowns.
And Brady will test a secondary missing three starters because of injuries. The latest to be sidelined is safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, who suffered a season-ending neck injury at Buffalo.
''We're kind of used to losing players,'' Joseph said.
They're used to giving up yards, too. The Dolphins already allowed more than their 2007 team, which went 1-15.
Miami won with such awful statistics because of other numbers. After starting 1-4, the Dolphins have 21 takeaways in the past 10 games. For the season, only five teams have more interceptions and fumble recoveries than Miami's 25.
The Dolphins also have solid stats in the categories of sacks, third down, the red zone and yards allowed per pass.
''Every game is so different,'' Gase said. ''There are different ways to win. You play for that week. It's whatever you need to do to win that game.''
In that category, the defense has been superior, repeatedly rising to the occasion with the game on the line. That's one reason the Dolphins have won eight in a row in games decided by a touchdown or less.
During overtime last week at Buffalo, the Dolphins dug in for stops at their own 27 and at the Bills' 41.
''The entire team believes,'' Joseph said. ''We didn't think for one second Saturday the game was not going to be won. It comes from our total team culture.''
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