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Defense Steps Up… Again

The beginning of the 2010 NFL season went a little something like this for the Miami Dolphins – the defense came to play every week and kept the Dolphins in every game, while the offense took time to come together and heat up. But now that the offense came alive for by far its best game of the year last Sunday at Oakland, the defense has taken a backseat in the media, even though they once again had an impressive performance against the Raiders.

In one of their best all-around performances of the season, the Dolphins’ ‘D’ held Oakland’s much-talked-about running game to a measly 16 total yards – 15 of which came on one play. Coming into the game, Oakland was averaging 152 yards on the ground, but defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and linebackers Koa Misi and Cameron Wake held the running game in check all afternoon, allowing the Raiders only 11 first downs . Compared to the Dolphins, who had great success on the ground with 186 yards, the Raiders had only 12 rushing attempts to Miami’s 49 carries.

But the rush defense wasn’t the part of the ‘D’ that had success Sunday – Miami also forced three turnovers, two interceptions by Yeremiah Bell and Chris Clemons and a forced fumble by Tim Dobbins, and also held their offense to only three points in the entire second half, a 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

The Dolphins defense can only expect to get better this week, as they host the Cleveland Browns at Sun Life Stadium. Defensive end Phillip Merling, who hasn’t played all season due to an Achilles’ injury, was activated this week and expects to be a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball. Meanwhile, on the offensive side, Chad Henne’s main target on the field Brandon Marshall also expects to return after missing last week’s game due to a lingering hamstring injury. The Browns have also been dealing with some big-time injury issues of their own, as QB Colt McCoy went down in Week 11 with a high ankle sprain. Jake Delhomme, who started the season as the No. 1 quarterback but has been dealing with health issues of his own, ran the offense last week in their one-point win over Carolina and has been taking first-team snaps with the squad this week in practice. Meanwhile, kick returner/wide receiver Josh Cribbs is also expecting to make a return in Miami after missing the Browns’ last game with a foot injury.

If you want to see the Dolphins take on the Browns Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, your time is running out! Be there to see all the action live in person with your picks of the best seats in the house from MiamiDolphinsTickets.com, your No. 1 source for Miami Dolphins tickets on the worldwide web!