Run Defense Really Clicking

The Dolphins' defense is finally beginning to live up its preseason expectations, and Miami's ability to suffocate the opposition's rushing attack deserves most of the credit for the recent improvement.

In Sunday's 35-8 win over Buffalo, the Dolphins limited the Bills to 41 rushing yards, and Fred Jackson, who came into the game as the NFL's leading rushing, accounted for just 17 of those yards.

"It really doesn't matter what team we play, or who we play. It's all about how we prepare for them, and if we run the plays right," said nose tackle Paul Soliai, whose unit held the Bills to 2.2 yards per carry. "Our goal is to stop the run, make every team one-dimensional."

That goal will be put to the test in Thursday's road game against the Cowboys, who average 121.8 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry.

Dallas rookie DeMarco Murray has been one of the NFL's hottest backs, rushing for 747 yards and scoring two touchdowns since replacing an injured Felix Jones as the starter.

Murray gained 73 yards on 25 carries, and Jones contributed another 18 on five runs Sunday in the Cowboys' 27-24 overtime win against the Redskins.

Six opponents have rushed for 100 or more yards against the Dolphins, who are allowing 3.7 yards per carry. But the rushing output has drastically dropped over the last month, as Miami has held its past four opponents to 2.9 yards per carry.

The unit's recent dominance repeats last year's second-half surge, when the defense held the final seven opponents to 2.8 yards per carry and finished the season as the seventh-best run-stopping unit.

"We know how it's supposed to look. Coach showed us in the first couple of games how we were getting out of gaps and missing plays. Guys were making 20-yard runs on us," linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "We're starting to believe in the system and play it at a different level."

The Dolphins have allowed just three rushing touchdowns all season. Only the 49ers have allowed fewer, and the Dolphins hope to keep the stingy streak going.

"We've finally gotten it together and are making it happen," defensive end Kendall Langford said. "Our goal coming into the year was to be better than last year. We started out slow, but we've been chipping away one game at a time."


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