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Dolphins-Texans Five Biggest Storylines ... And How They Played Out

The Miami Dolphins improved to 8-3 on the season with their 30-15 victory against the Houston Texans at Hard Rock Stadium

The Miami Dolphins made it five wins a row when they defeated the Houston Texans, 30-15, at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.

Ahead of the matchup, we offered our weekly ranking and analysis of the five biggest storylines, so now it's time to see how those played out:

1. Can Dolphins Avoid Post-Bye Blues?

BEFORE THE GAME: While players and coaches no doubt appreciated getting a week off in the midst of a grueling regular season, the timing of the bye for the Dolphins wasn't 100 percent ideal simply because of how well the team was playing — topped by the 22-point victory against the Cleveland Browns. The offense, in particular, was really humming with three consecutive 30-point outings, and the hope is that the impeccable timing in the passing game will be there right away after the week off.

DURING THE GAME: The Dolphins sure didn't show much rust at the start of the game, driving for a field goal and a touchdown on their first offensive possessions on their way to a 30-0 halftime lead. While the passing game again put up big numbers in the first half, the timing wasn't quite as impeccable as it had been the previous three games, and maybe that's where the week off hurt a little bit. But, again, it didn't hurt badly enough to prevent the Dolphins from having almost 300 yards of offense at halftime.

2. Not Taking the Opponent Lightly

BEFORE THE GAME: The Dolphins' winning streak really should extend to five games in Week 12 because, let's face it, they're simply a much better team than the struggling Texans. The evidence can be found in the point spread, which now is at 12.5 points after already starting as the largest favoring the Dolphins since their 2003 season opener. But that game 19 years ago — even though the players and coaches are different — should serve as a lesson never to underestimate an opponent.

DURING THE GAME: Again, if we're going by the 30-0 halftime score, no, the Dolphins most definitely didn't take the Texans lightly. It is possible, however, the Dolphins' intensity waned a little in the second half with the huge deal and the offensive issues that came after Terron Armstead had to leave the game certainly didn't help.




3. Tunsil Returns to Hard Rock Stadium

BEFORE THE GAME: The one player to watch when it comes to the Texans clearly has to be tackle Laremy Tunsil, who will play his first game in Miami since the mega trade that sent him to Houston in September 2019, a deal that has paid massive dividends for the Dolphins over the past three years and beyond. Tunsil is one of the few front-line players on the Houston roster and it will be interesting to watch him go up against Dolphins newcomer Bradley Chubb.

DURING THE GAME: By every measure, Tunsil is among a very small number of front-line players on the Houston roster. As such, it's difficult for him to make much of an impact on a team lacking quality and depth. Maybe that's why the Texans decided to have him go out on a route as a tackle-eligible receiver after their first touchdown in the second half. While it certainly wasn't a great pass by quarterback Kyle Allen, it definitely was catchable but Tunsil couldn't come down with it. Tunsil also recovered an Allen fumble after he was sacked by Bradley Chubb, but Tunsil wasn't blocking on that play because the Texans decided to block him with a tight end instead. Given the final score, this had to be a pretty disappointing Miami return for Tunsil.

4. Looking to Punish Pierce

BEFORE THE GAME: While the Texans offense will have a new look with a different starting quarterback, the more mobile Kyle Allen, it's running back Dameon Pierce that the Dolphins has to stop. Pierce has 780 rushing yards on the season, including outings for 130-plus yards against the Chargers and Eagles, but is coming off a game where Washington held him to 8 yards on 10 carries. In their last game, the Dolphins made Browns star running back Nick Chubb a non-factor, even with his long touchdown run in the second half. If the Dolphins can stop Pierce, that takes away maybe Houston's best chance at an upset.

DURING THE GAME: Maybe the Texans were on to the idea that the Dolphins would key on Pierce when they handed off to somebody else (Dare Ogunbowale) on their first offensive snap. Pierce never got going against the Dolphins, though it didn't help that the Houston passing game was giving the Miami defense to really worry about. Pierce finished with only 8 yards on five rushing attempts and 8 yards on three receptions. He was dropped for a loss twice (once on a run, once on a pass) and was the intended target on the pass that linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel intercepted. So, yeah, the Dolphins neutralized Pierce all right.

5. O-Line Looking for an Encore

BEFORE THE GAME: The Dolphins offensive line is coming off maybe its best outing in a couple of years and it will be interesting to see if it can duplicate that kind of performance. Actually, it'll be interesting just to see if the Dolphins will use the same starting five — Terron Armstead, Robert Jones, Connor Williams, Robert Hunt, Brandon Shell — or reinsert Austin Jackson into the starting lineup, whether at right tackle or left guard.

DURING THE GAME: The Dolphins indeed put Austin Jackson back in the starting lineup at right tackle and the offensive line started off doing a good job again in pass protection, though the run blocking wasn't nearly as good as it was against Cleveland. But then Terron Armstead left the game in the second quarter and everything fell apart for the offensive line. Between the end of that second quarter and the early part of the third, Tua Tagovailoa was sacked four times — and those weren't coverage sacks — after being sacked a combined two times in the previous four games. And then it was Jackson who left the game in the fourth quarter because of an ankle injury, raising more questions about the offensive moving forward.


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