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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Xavien Howard is AFC Defensive Player of Week

Olivia Stacey

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Still getting a boost from their impressive Monday night win over New England, the Dolphins secured another individual honor Wednesday. That’s when second-year cornerback Xavien Howard was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after a dominant performance on Monday night.

Howard intercepted Tom Brady twice in Miami’s stunning 27-20 upset of the Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. It marked the first time in more than two years (Dec. 6, 2015) that Brady had been picked off twice in the same game.

“I just made a play on it,” Howard said when asked about what he saw on his second interception.

After not recording an interception during his first 18 regular season games, Howard has intercepted four passes over the past two games. He also recorded a pair of interceptions against the Denver Broncos on December 3. That makes him the first cornerback in team history to have multiple interceptions in back-to-back games. And when you look at names like Madison, Surtain, etc. that have played that position over the years, it’s even more impressive.

He also was the one on one defender on the Pats deep threat Brandin Cooks and held him to just one catch in the game.

“I’m just feeding off the last game,” Howard said on Monday night. “Watching film and stuff like that. They tried to come at me in the weakness that I showed on film so just executing the game plan.”

Howard, who was taken in the second round of last year’s draft, is emerging as a top playmaker for Miami. “He balled out,” Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said. “That’s what he does. That’s what he does. He can be one of the best corners in the league.”

After recording two picks against one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, he may be well on his way.

Olivia is a multi-faceted sports reporter based in Tampa Bay where she has covered events from the College Football National Championship to the Stanley Cup Final. A native Floridian, she grew up rooting for Tampa’s sports teams, and graduated from East Lake High in Tarpon Springs. Olivia continued her education at the University of Florida where she received her broadcast journalism degree.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins hit big plays against Raiders to remain unbeaten

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another Sunday of big plays and another win for the Dolphins, who for the first time since 2013 are 3 – 0. This after dealing the Raiders their third straight loss in a 28-20 come-from-behind victory at Hard Rock Stadium.

After Oakland scored almost immediately, when quarterback Derek Carr hit Jordy Nelson on a long completion and then with a red zone touchdown pass, Miami found themselves trailing quickly 7 to nothing.

But from there on, the Fins began to hit the Raiders with one big play after another. That started with a 34-yard beautifully thrown touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a streaking Kenny Stills to tie the game 7-7.

The Raiders actually took a 10-7 lead into the locker room and then put together a lengthy Frive capped with a Marshawn Lynch up and over touchdown in a 17-7 lead.

However, the Dolphins were not fazed and 2 minutes of clock time later had marched into Raiders scoring territory. That’s when Jakeem Grant took an inside flip hand off from Tannehill (above) and raced around the right end to cut the lead to 17 – 14.

Next, head coach Adam gase went into the” bag of tricks” and after a double hand off, receiver Albert Wilson fired this long pass to Grant down the right sideline:

The 52-yard trick play touchdown, gave Miami the lead for the first time at 21-17.

The Raiders tried to mount a go ahead drive but Derek Carr’s the pass for Martavis Bryant was picked off by Xavien Howard ending their threat.

Next, Wilson caught another short pass from Tannehill and did the rest, racing around the left sideline for a 72-yard score at the 2-minute warning, which put the game away.

Tannehill finished 17-23 for 289 yards and the three TD passes. Carr had 345 yards and a TD in the losing effort, but also two costly interceptions.

The Dolphins are 3-0 for the first time since 2013. That team finished 8-8 and still missed the playoffs.

The Raiders fanfare of hiring Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth is over, as they are now 0-3 and already three games behind the Chiefs, who won Sunday.

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Miami Dolphins

Gameday- Dolphins host Raiders looking to remain unbeaten

Florida Football Insiders

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Who:  Dolphins (2-0) vs. Raiders (0-2)

Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens

When: Sunday 1 p.m.

Spread: Dolphins by 3 (Courtesy Vegasinsider.com)

Miami has opened by winning the first two games for the first time since 2013 and now has a golden opportunity to get to 3 – 0 today. Here’s what we’re watching

Progression of Ryan Tannehill

Coming off a solid start by spreading the ball around to numerous receivers, Ryan Tannehill will look to keep it up. The Raiders defense is obviously reeling after the trading of Khalil Mack on the eve of the season, and Tannehill may be able to take advantage of the Oakland secondary.

Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson as the deep threats could do significant damage later today. Look for coach Adam Gase and coordinator Dowell Loggains to test them early.

Does Derek Carr follow up last week’s performance?

Oakland’s 5th Year quarterback was tremendous for much of the Denver game a week ago, completing 23 of his first 24 passes. With the Raiders getting acclimated to Jon Gruden’s new offense and terminology, it’s still obvious they want to get the ball out of Carr’s hand quickly with short throws.

Another part of Oakland’s offensive success is the early running of Marshawn Lynch, who is questionable for this game with an injured shoulder. They would like to set up play action with Lynch or backup running back Jalen Richard. If Miami can stuff the run, it will help greatly in stopping the Raiders attack.

Dolphins defense continues its optimistic play?

Whether it was surviving the two lengthy weather delays two weeks ago against the Titans with key sacks and takeaways, or last week in New York with frustrating rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, Miami has been able to make plays at times.

That needs to continue on Sunday. Safety Reshad Jones will be a game-time decision with his injured shoulder and that could affect their defensive scheme for coordinator Matt Burke.

If Miami’s pass rushers, Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, Charles Harris, Etc can get to Carr it will make life easier at Hard Rock Stadium.

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Miami Dolphins

Jon Gruden’s returns to Florida already in coaching turmoil

Florida Football Insiders

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It may be premature to say that the “second honeymoon” for Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders is already over, but another defeat Sunday, and it likely is.

The Raiders are clearly struggling after dropping their second straight game last week in heartbreaking fashion against the Broncos in Denver. Oakland controlled most of the game and Derek Carr was outstanding, completing 23 of his first 24 passes on the day.

However, in the end Case Keenum rallied the Broncos and when Brandon McManus’ last-second field goal went through, the smirking critics of “Chucky” were already “sticking their chests out” about his NFL return.

Without question, some of this is self-inflicted, as Gruden clearly did not want to pay and therefore keep, linebacker Khalil Mack for the Raiders. And yes, they got a bounty of draft picks in return, but Mack has been nothing short of sensational as a pass rusher in two games in Chicago, and the Raiders defense is again mediocre-at-best.

So, that brings us to Sunday. And even though Gruden has been living in the Tampa Bay area while doing Monday Night Football for ESPN, this is the first time that he’s back coaching a game in the state since the final regular-season game of 2008. That day, ironically his Buccaneers lost to the Raiders completing a four-game losing collapse and costing his team a playoff spot-ultimately Gruden his job with the Bucs.

Now, the Raiders have come all the way East to Miami to play the 2 – 0 Dolphins. And while Gruden is in absolutely no jeopardy of losing his job, at least not until year 3 or 4 if it’s not working, owner Mark Davis didn’t make this shockwave multimillion-dollar hire to have the Raiders be one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Clearly, there was going to be some learning curve for Gruden with his new staff and new players. However, with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback like Carr the belief was the Raiders would be solid, if not a wild card playoff contender.

It hasn’t shaped up that way as of yet.

The good news for Raider fans is: no one is going to outwork Gruden at trying to get it right.

The bad news is: the Raiders may not have enough overall talent to overcome that above-mentioned learning curve and digging themselves an 0-3 hole start 2018.

And the Fins, may be about to deal “Raider Nation” their latest lost Sunday.

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