You wanted an all-around dominant performance? You got an all-around dominant performance.
After the Miami Dolphins needed either the offense to pick up the defense or vice-versa in their first six wins of the season, they finally put a complete game together from both sides of the ball.
The Dolphins had quarterback Tua Tagovailoa go for a third consecutive three-touchdown game, ran for a season-high 195 yards and had their defense hold strong for much of the afternoon, defeating the Cleveland Browns, 39-17, on Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami, beginning to play its most consistent football, goes into its bye week 7-3 for the franchise’s best 10-game start since 2001.
Coupled with the Buffalo Bills’ overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings later Sunday, the Dolphins are in first place in the AFC East and second only to the Kansas City Chiefs in the conference.
Tagovailoa, after leading the Dolphins to shootout victories over the Lions and Bears the past two weeks, had another stellar outing, completing 25 of 32 passes for 285 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was good for a passer rating of 135, following up Tagovailoa’s two highest-rated performances of his career, 138.7 against the Lions and 135.7 at the Bears. The Dolphins are 13-1 in the past 14 games Tagovailoa has started and finished, dating back to last season.
He and the Miami offense blew open Sunday’s matchup with the Browns (3-6) between the end of the first half and start of the second. Starting with the ball after halftime, the Dolphins doubled down after scoring right before intermission.
The Dolphins took a 17-7 lead into halftime when Tagovailoa connected with Trent Sherfield in the corner of the end zone while Sherfield tapped his toes perfectly inbounds for his first touchdown with Miami, two weeks after having one taken away in Detroit.
“That ball wasn’t even supposed to come to me,” said Sherfield, who quipped it was his second time in the end zone with the Dolphins. “I just looked straight up in the air, and I just knew it was there. Tua trusted in me to go make a play. It was a great ball.”
The well-placed pass from the third-year quarterback came shortly after a rope he threw to the sideline on a quick out to Jaylen Waddle to convert third-and-6.
Then, Miami’s opening drive of the second half went 70 yards in six plays, with running back Raheem Mostert’s 24-yard touchdown capping it.
In what was the Dolphins’ top rushing output of the season, new acquisition Jeff Wilson went for 119 yards on 17 carries and Mostert finished with 65 on eight attempts — both with a rushing touchdown.
The Miami defense mostly held up, aside from an opening drive where Cleveland easily maneuvered down the field and a 33-yard touchdown run to star Browns running back Nick Chubb early in the fourth quarter.
Chubb finished with 63 yards rushing — 33 on the touchdown. The Dolphins recovered a Chubb fumble that Zach Sieler forced and Xavien Howard secured in the first half. Cleveland quarterback Jacoby Brissett, the Palm Beach County product who once starred at Dwyer High and was Dolphins backup last season, went 22 of 35 for 212 yards and a touchdown without an interception. Miami
After the two touchdowns between the end of the first half and start of the second, Tagovailoa found Tyreek Hill short over the middle for a 2-yard score. After a late turnover on downs, Wilson scored a 20-yard touchdown.
The Browns opened the scoring Sunday with a double South Florida connection as Brissett threw a 1-yard touchdown to former Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant. Miami allowed a 48-yard return to Jerome Ford on the opening kickoff and 38-yard pass from Brissett to Donovan Peoples-Jones on the first play from scrimmage. A Jerome Baker pass interference set Cleveland up at the 1.
The Dolphins responded with an opening drive where they had 42 yards rushing and 42 passing and was capped by an Alec Ingold 13-yard touchdown reception from Tagovailoa. Miami converted a fourth-and-1 on its side of the field with Wilson, who also later had a physical 18-yard scamper.
Before the first quarter concluded, the Dolphins turned the Browns over with Howard recovering the Chubb fumble that was forced by Sieler. Early in the second quarter, Miami converted that into 3 points on a 39-yard Jason Sanders field goal after Tagovailoa found Jaylen Waddle for a 29-yard chunk on a skinny post deep over the middle.
The Miami receiving stats were spread out. Waddle had 66 receiving yards, Sherfield 63, the fullback Ingold 45, Hill 44 and tight end Mike Gesicki had 31.
The only possession where Miami didn’t come up with points were a turnover on downs on fourth-and-1 where the team was in short field-goal range at the Cleveland 14 -yard line in the first half and the final kneeldowns.
Bradley Chubb got in on his first sack with the Dolphins in his second game with his new team, splitting a first-quarter sack with Christian Wilkins. Later in the first half, Wilkins split another sack with Melvin Ingram on a play where Chubb also provided pressure off an edge. In the fourth quarter, Ingram combined with Jaelan Phillips for a third Miami sack.
Wilkins was also flagged for a roughing-the-passer penalty in the third quarter that extended a Browns drive that resulted in a field goal.
Sanders, while making his two field-goal attempts Sunday, missed a pair of extra points.
The Dolphins have their idle week and return to action on Nov. 27 against the Houston Texans at Hard Rock Stadium.
This story will be updated.