Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. I didn’t think I could muster 500 words on the biggest story of Week 3, so let’s look at the Dolphins instead.
In today’s SI:AM:
Miami’s big statement
When the NFL season began, two teams dominated the discussion of AFC East contenders: the Jets and Bills. But there’s another team making a case that it could be not just the best in the division, but maybe also the best in the conference.
The Dolphins had the best offensive performance in modern NFL history in yesterday’s 70–20 win over the Broncos. Miami became the first team since 1966 to score 70 points in a game, falling three points shy of the record set by the Bears in the ’40 NFL championship game. It also put up 726 total yards, nine shy of the record set by the ’51 Rams.
Ten of the Phins’ 14 offensive series ended in a touchdown. That includes a one-play drive at the end of the first half and Miami’s final series of the game, when coach Mike McDaniel had backup quarterback Mike White take a knee from the Denver 26 rather than attempt a field goal that would have given the Dolphins the all-time record for points in a game.
As the gaudy score line would indicate, several Miami players put up absurd statistics. Tua Tagovailoa completed 23 of 26 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns. Rookie running back Devon Achane ran 18 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns, plus another 30 receiving yards and two TDs through the air. Raheem Mostert had 82 yards on 13 carries and three scores, along with seven catches for 60 yards and another touchdown. Seven Miami players caught a pass, led by Tyreek Hill with nine catches for 157 yards and a touchdown. Tagovailoa didn’t even have his No. 2 receiver, Jaylen Waddle, who was out with a concussion. Any time you have to come out after a game and assure the media that you weren’t trying to humiliate the other team, as Tua said yesterday, you know you were firing on all cylinders.
It was a stunning offensive performance that put the rest of the NFL on notice. The Dolphins and 49ers are the only two 3–0 teams in the league. (Either the Eagles or Buccaneers, who are both 2–0 and will meet tonight on Monday Night Football, will join them.) Albert Breer still believes the Niners are the best team in the league, but also that it’s time to start treating the Dolphins like a Super Bowl contender:
It’s not just the team’s 70–20 win over Denver, either. It’s how the Dolphins outgunned the Chargers in the opener, and how they grinded out a win in Foxborough last week, and how this week’s avalanche of yards and first downs and points was preceded by flashes to indicate an explosion might be coming.
It’ll be near impossible to replicate yesterday’s incendiary performance, but the beatdown was an indication of what lies ahead for the Dolphins. Their combination of offensive talent and McDaniel’s excellent scheme makes them as dangerous as any team on that side of the ball. Doubters may be inclined to dismiss yesterday’s outburst because it came against a hapless Denver team, but the Dolphins will have plenty of opportunities to prove they belong among the NFL’s elite. They’ll face the Bills in Buffalo next week and also have games coming up against the Eagles and Chiefs, both on the road, as well as two matchups later in the season against the Jets’ celebrated defense. As long as Tagovailoa stays healthy, Miami seems capable of beating anyone.
The best of Sports Illustrated
- Here are the rest of Albert Breer’s takeaways from Week 3.
- Sean Payton looks increasingly foolish for ripping last year’s Broncos team and coaching staff, Conor Orr writes.
- Richard Johnson was in Eugene on Saturday, where Oregon blew out Colorado and declared the Buffaloes’ Cinderella story over.
- The Astros’ recent collapse means Houston will face a tall task this week if it wants to make the playoffs. Tom Verducci explains how starting pitching—and one 40-year-old starter—will be the difference.
- Broncos lineman Garett Bolles was fed up after yesterday’s blowout.
- The Steelers’ team plane made an emergency landing in Kansas City on the way back from the team’s win last night in Las Vegas.
- Pittsburgh won that game because Raiders coach Josh McDaniels made a truly baffling decision in the final minutes.
- Gilberto Manzano isn’t impressed with either the Steelers or Raiders after that slog on SNF.
- The Texans’ 255-pound fullback returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
The top five...
… touchdowns scored by the Dolphins yesterday:
5. Devon Achane’s powerful run for his first NFL touchdown.
4. Mike White’s long bomb to Robbie Chosen.
3. Raheem Mostert’s tiptoeing along the sideline.
2. Tua Tagovailoa’s shovel pass to Achane.
1. Tua’s no-look shovel pass to Achane.
On this day in 1984, Rusty Staub joined Ty Cobb as the only players in MLB history to hit a home run as a teenager and a 40-year-old. Which two of the following players have since joined them?
- Ken Griffey Jr.
- Alex Rodriguez
- Gary Sheffield
- Miguel Cabrera
Friday’s SIQ: On Sept. 22, 1966, the Yankees drew their lowest attendance in franchise history. How many fans showed up to watch the game that afternoon against the White Sox
Answer: 413. Things are going poorly for the Yanks this season, but at least it hasn’t been that bad.
The backstory is that 1966 was a terrible year for baseball in New York. The Yankees finished dead last in the American League at 70–89. The Mets were 66–95, ahead of only the Cubs in the NL standings. As bad as both teams were, the weather in the city in mid-September was worse. A relentless storm dropped more than five inches of rain in 24 hours, the worst storm in more than 60 years. When the rain finally stopped, the Yankees were able to schedule a makeup game with the White Sox.
The game was scheduled for 2 p.m. on a Thursday, and few fans made the trek out to the stadium. Temperatures were cool, and some rain showers still lingered. Nobody wanted to skip work to watch two mediocre teams in conditions like that.
The game is not only the least attended in Yankees history, but it also may hold the record for the fewest fans at a modern MLB game (excluding games where fans were not permitted). According to a 2015 MLB.com article, a 1916 game between the Yankees and A’s attracted a reported 23 fans, but that number is unverified.