Resurgent Dolphins draw improving Giants’ defense
When the Miami Dolphins play host to the New York Giants on Sunday, it will feature two teams desperately trying to get into the playoff race.
The Dolphins (5-7), who opened as 2.5-point favorites, have won four straight games.
It’s an impressive comeback for a team that started the season 1-7.
“We finally look like the team we wanted to be at the beginning of the year,” Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said.
Even so, the Dolphins trail the New England Patriots by three games in the AFC East. Miami is just 3-3 at home.
Meanwhile, the Giants (4-7) are 1-4 on the road, and they trail the first-place Dallas Cowboys by three games in the NFC East.
However, the Giants are coming off a home win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants forced four turnovers and held the Eagles to a season-low 7 points.
The Giants and Dolphins have several similarities — suddenly hot defenses, Pro Bowl cornerbacks, rookie pass-rushers, young quarterbacks and rookie wide receivers from the SEC.
The Giants terrorized Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, intercepting him three times and sacking him once. The Giants also stopped Philly on both of its fourth-down tries.
“We’re going to fight on every down,” Giants safety Xavier McKinney said. “That’s how we play. We want to go out and dominate.”
The Giants are allowing 23.0 points per game and Miami is allowing 23.3 points. That puts both teams right in the middle of the league average.
In the past five weeks, however, the Giants have put up some impressive defensive performances, allowing an average of just 15.2 points. That includes holding Carolina to three points and the potent Kansas City Chiefs to 20 points.
The Dolphins have been even better during their four-game streak, allowing just 11.5 points.
Giants defensive stars include defensive lineman Leonard Williams and rookie outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, who are tied for the team lead in sacks with 5 1/2.
Linebacker Tae Crowder leads the Giants with 79 tackles, and McKinney (five picks) and Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry (three picks) have combined for eight interceptions.
Miami’s defensive stars include linebacker Jerome Baker, who leads the team with 63 tackles; Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard, who tops the team with three interceptions; and rookie outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips, who is No. 1 on the Dolphins with 6 1/2 sacks. Defensive lineman Emmanuel Ogbah has six sacks.
Offensively for Miami, Tagovailoa is completing 70.5 percent of his passes and has 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. The second-year passer, 23, is 3-4 as a starter this season.
Dolphins rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle leads Miami in receptions (77) and yardage (759).
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 10 TDs and seven interceptions. The third-year quarterback, 24, is 4-7 as a starter.
Giants rookie receiver Kadarius Toney has started just four games but has made 35 catches for 392 yards. He has caught 72.9 percent of his targets.
Waddle, taken 14 spots higher than Toney in the 2021 draft, has caught 74.8 percent of his targets.
–Field Level Media