The victory against the Chiefs offered the Dolphins the perfect blueprint for success. Quarterback Matt Moore was as efficient as he'd ever been in his career. He completed 17 of 23 attempts for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
Reggie Bush continued his recent turnaround, too. After averaging less than 3 yards per carry in the Dolphins' first four games, Bush had been averaging better than 6 yards per carry in the three games before facing the Chiefs. And against Kansas City, he finished with 92 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
"It's a new offense for me, new team, new environment," said Bush, who joined the Dolphins after five seasons with the Saints. "So I've been trying to find my identity within this team."
It seems he has, at last.
Even Brandon Marshall, who throughout the first seven games had been plagued by dropped passes and lost opportunities, emerged against the Chiefs. He finished with 106 yards receiving — 14 of which came on a third-quarter touchdown that helped put the game out of reach.
About two minutes after Marshall's touchdown, Bush scored on a 28-yard run that gave the Dolphins a 28-3 lead. After giving away fourth-quarter leads in defeats the previous two weeks against the Broncos and the Giants, the Dolphins entered the fourth quarter with a lead almost too large to surrender.
"For a change our team just put it in our own hands," Sparano said. "And that's what I've been waiting to see."
Miami's defense excelled, keeping the Chiefs out of the end zone. Kansas City owned about a 10-minute advantage in time of possession, but the Dolphins allowed the Chiefs an average of just 4.4 yards per play.
The Chiefs found little room in the running game, and the Dolphins sacked Matt Cassel five times.
It was the kind of performance that Sparano expected to see regularly when the season began — back when he believed the Dolphins could compete for the AFC East title. Instead, Sparano had to wait until his team's eighth game to witness the kind of play he'd been anticipating.
Now he'll have to wait to learn something else, too: whether this one victory turns into more.