In the Dolphins’ historic 70-20 rout of the Denver Broncos, Miami’s offense broke or tied 13 team records. One of the most astonishing feats was the unit reaching the end zone 10 times over the course of four quarters.
Even more impressive was the manner in which the Dolphins did so. The offensive masterpiece included a diverse spread of concepts in both the run and pass game, all accompanied by myriad forms of presnap motion to put the defense in a bind.
“70 points is crazy — our stats are like video game-type stuff,” said rookie running back De’Von Achane, who totaled 233 yards and scored four times. “I’ve never been on this side of it.”
Here is a breakdown of all 10 of the Dolphins’ touchdowns from Week 3.
Touchdown No. 1: Tyreek Hill’s 54-yard reception
For much of the afternoon, the Broncos sat in a two-high shell, with a pair of deep safeties to patrol in the secondary. Teams have turned to it often to deter deep passing but Miami has found ways to exploit the coverage with crossing routes that put the safeties in tough spots. On Hill’s 54-yard touchdown catch, Denver was in a Cover 8 coverage, a variation of Cover 6 in which Cover 4 is played on the weak side of the field, while Cover 2 is played on the strong side of the field.
Cornerback Damarri Mathis was playing Cover 2 — sitting in the flat — on the side of Hill, who was running a post route. On the other side of the field, Robbie Chosen was running a crossing route. It’s normally a route run by Jaylen Waddle, who didn’t play because of a concussion. But the speed of Chosen was still enough of a threat. Corner Pat Surtain II followed Chosen on his path and safety Delarrin Turner-Yell drove down to cover Chosen. But with the other safety, Kareem Jackson, dropping into a zone, that left Hill uncovered over the middle of the field. According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Hill had 9.7 yards of separation when Tagovailoa’s pass arrived. And Hill had no problem beating Jackson to the end zone.
Touchdown No. 2: Achane’s 8-yard run
The Dolphins opened with a condensed 2x2 shotgun formation. River Cracraft and Braxton Berrios were to the left of the formation, while Julian Hill and Tyreek Hill were to the right and Achane was to the left of Tagovailoa in the backfield.
Berrios motioned to the right side of the formation before sprinting to the edge. At the snap, Tagovailoa tossed the ball to Achane, while Cracraft blocked down on the edge defender and Terron Armstead pulled into space. Cracraft and Armstead essentially gave Achane two lead blockers. Achane did a nice job of ducking to evade a defender and then dropping his pads to get into the end zone for his first career score.
Touchdown No. 3: Achane’s 4-yard reception
Faced with another deep red zone opportunity, the Dolphins again used creative motion. Miami was in a condensed I formation and at the snap, Hill circled into the backfield, while Julian Hill, Alec Ingold and Cracraft ran routes. The edge defender crashed down on Tagovailoa with what looked to be a developing end-around to Tyreek Hill. But Tagovailoa, staring at Tyreek Hill, moved the ball into his right hand and tossed it to Achane for a nifty, no-look shovel pass touchdown. Denver packed the middle of the field with defenders but had to follow the players running routes, opening space for Achane to weave his way into the end zone.
“At practice, he did [the no-look pass],” Achane said, “and then my coach was like, ‘Just make sure you be steady, because he’s not looking.’ We’re just making it easy for each other, but Tua, he’s always at practice doing a lot of no-looks. Monday through Saturday, we’re practicing. Sunday is the easy part.”
Touchdown No. 4: Raheem Mostert’s 20-yard run
This score came on a split flow inside zone run concept. Julian Hill, in a tight alignment attached to the right side of the formation, was put in presnap motion to his left and blocked the backside defender. Tagovailoa gave the shotgun handoff to Mostert and Isaiah Wynn and Robert Hunt delivered nice blocks, while Connor Williams climbed to the second level to engage a defender. The rest was all Mostert, brushing off a defender and sprinting to the edge before a dive to cap the run.
Touchdown No. 5: Mostert’s 3-yard run
The Dolphins mixed orbit motion with a counter run concept for this touchdown. Achane was put in presnap motion from the left side of the formation into the backfield. Tagovailoa faked a handoff to Achane before handing the ball to Mostert. Hunt and Julian Hill pulled from right to left and Achane’s motion drew the Broncos’ linebackers in his direction. Mostert had a clear lane into the end zone.
Touchdown No. 6: Mostert’s 1-yard run
Another gap run concept like the previous score. Wynn and Julian Hill pulled from left to right and Mostert snuck in past their blocks for the score.
Touchdown No. 7: Mostert’s 19-yard reception
Just inside the red zone, the Dolphins put Julian Hill in fly motion, moving him from a tight alignment on the right side of the formation to the left side. Denver was in a 2-man concept, with two deep safeties and man-to-man coverage underneath. Tagovailoa first looked to Tyreek Hill, who was running a go route on the right side of the formation. But with Surtain having tight coverage and a safety overtop, Tagovailoa quickly moved to his other reads. He found Mostert running a swing route out of the backfield and Mostert made a great effort to tightrope along the sideline before cutting back and juking the final defender en route to the end zone.
Touchdown No. 8: Achane’s 10-yard reception
This is the same exact play as the first shovel pass touchdown, from the formation to the orbit motion that accompanies it, this time executed by Cedrick Wilson Jr. There’s no no-look from Tagovailoa but the design has the same end result as the first.
Touchdown No. 9: Chosen’s 68-yard reception
Even with the backups in, the Dolphins are able to beat the Broncos deep. Denver is another Cover 8 coverage and Turner-Yell, on the Cover 4 side, drives on a crossing route by Berrios. Meanwhile, Surtain is effectively in man-to-man coverage on Chosen but bites on a double move. Because Turner-Yell is focused on Berrios, there’s no help overtop and Chosen beats the remaining deep safety to the end zone.
Touchdown No. 10: Achane’s 67-yard run
The Dolphins reached the 70-point mark with another inside zone run concept but this time it’s in the form of a backwards toss. Berrios goes into presnap motion from right to left and then at the snap, Julian Hill crosses from the left side of the formation to block the backside defender. Wynn and Liam Eichenberg deliver a great combo block at the first level and, coupled with Wilson’s inside block on a safety, spring Achane into the open field. Achane, who went untouched on the run, hit a max speed of 21.93 mph, the second-fastest-timed carry this season. After the breakout performance, Achane said the long burst was his favorite play of an unforgettable afternoon.