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Resilient Dolphins displaying winning formula

The SportsXchange

DAVIE, Fla. -- Some realities about the Miami Dolphins' revamped squad are beginning to emerge following the team's 24-20 victory at the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

"I feel like we can play in any circumstances," said linebacker Philip Wheeler. "We came back and scored, and we kept them out of the end zone the whole second half. It feels good to do that."

Everybody's feeling good in Miami nowadays.

The Dolphins are 2-0, with both victories coming on the road.

They haven't allowed any fourth-quarter points, and they've allowed only six points in the second half. They've produced four interceptions, including one in the end zone and another near the goal line.

In Sunday's victory they held Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to 79 yards passing in the second half.

And Miami's offense has produced three 100-yard receivers.

This could signal a new era for the Dolphins, a team that has had four consecutive losing seasons largely because it couldn't do the aforementioned things on a consistent basis.

These Dolphins are making clutch plays and putting together key drives, they're being opportunistic. Sometimes those things get lost in the big picture.

For example, late in the second quarter on Sunday, after the Colts scored a touchdown to take a 17-14 lead, the Dolphins drove 44 yards in seven plays to get a tying 54-yard field goal from rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis.

It was a noteworthy accomplishment in many ways. Coach Joe Philbin shrewdly used his timeouts during the Colts' touchdown drive to ensure his offense would have enough time to operate. Then the offense drove down the field with precision, mostly led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Sturgis' first field-goal attempt was wiped out when the Colts called timeout in an attempt to ice him. His second attempt was even stronger; it went through the uprights with even more authority.

"I told the team, 'Remember those three points we scored right before the half,'" Philbin said. "I thought that was a good drive, good poise."

At the end of Sunday's game it was the defense's turn. The Colts, trailing, 24-20, needed a touchdown to win. They had four chances from the Dolphins' 23-yard line in the final two minutes but were turned away.

On first down Luck threw an incomplete pass. On second down Luck misfired and was almost intercepted by safety Chris Clemons. On third down cornerback Nolan Carroll defended a pass, and on fourth down Luck was sacked by Wheeler.

The Dolphins took an early 7-0 lead, then fell behind, 14-10, and 17-14, tied the game by halftime, fell behind again, 20-17, took the lead at 24-20, and then made the plays to win the game.

After making wholesale changes in the last two years - new coach, new offensive coordinator, new defensive coordinator, new quarterback, a new cornerback, two new linebackers and the No. 1 free agent on the market (wide receiver Mike Wallace), the No. 3 pick in the draft (defensive end Dion Jordan), among others - it seems they might finally have the winning formula.

At the very least they seem to have acquired a quality this franchise has been missing for years.

"I think we showed resiliency," Tannehill said.

--DT Paul Soliai injured his left knee Sunday in the fourth quarter and didn't return. Soliai limped off the field but didn't have a limp in the locker room after the game. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said he's not yet sure of Soliai's status for this week.

--CB Dimitri Patterson was a late scratch due to a groin injury that knocked him out of the opener in the third quarter. His status for this week is unknown.

--CB Nolan Carroll started for Dimitri Patterson (groin) and turned in one of his best performances of his three-plus years in the NFL, according to Coyle. Carroll, a starter in the nickel package, had four tackles and a passed defended, which came on a crucial fourth-quarter drive.

--DE Dion Jordan is still being used mostly as a third-down pass rusher but Coyle said they'd like to get him more involved this week against Atlanta. Jordan had one play in which he bumped quarterback Andrew Luck instead of tackling him for a sack. Coyle said he thought Jordan might have been afraid of drawing a penalty.
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