DETROIT — For the second time this season, the Miami Dolphins needed a second-half rally to pull out a victory.
This time the defense bailed out the Dolphins against the struggling Detroit Lions by holding them scoreless in the final half en route to a 31-27 win Sunday at Ford Field.
The Dolphins looked like they were in for a long afternoon, falling behind 27-17 at halftime. They had allowed 326 yards of offense, 17 first downs and 8.8 yards per play.
“I don’t think we win this game if you don’t go through stuff,” said Miami coach Mike McDaniel. “That’s why I believe that there’s no such thing as adversity. It’s more about having an opportunity to learn from a situation. I don’t think the goal in any game is perfection. We were able to come out with a victory because of certain things we have gone through in the past.”
Dolphins outlast Lions: 5 Instant Takeaways: How the Miami Dolphins outlasted the Detroit Lions in a 31-27 win
In the second game of the season, the Dolphins needed a late comeback for a win at Baltimore.
“Yeah, the similarities were there,” said linebacker Jerome Baker who finished with five tackles. “We were down, came back and got it done. I give credit to Detroit. Their record doesn’t show it but that’s a good team over there.”
The Lions looked unstoppable in the opening half, with quarterback Jared Goff completing 18 of 25 passes for 264 yards.
But the Dolphins pass defense, which was minus secondary starters Nik Needham and Brandon Jones, both who are out for the season, allowed 57 passing yards in the final 30 minutes. Even the rushing defense held Detroit to 20 yards in the half.
“It got away from us a little bit in the first half, but we came back, locker room, adjustments, everybody locked in, did what we needed to do,” said safety Jevon Holland who led Miami with 10 tackles and two assists.
“We just stuck together. That’s what it was. We trusted our coaches, trusted our scheme. We came in here and made adjustments, and then went out there and executed. Nothing too complicated, nothing like that.”
Jaelan Phillips said Dolphins were calm at halftime
Outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips said there was no worry in the Dolphins’ halftime locker room.
“It just goes to show the kind of leaders that we have here on this defense and the kind of guys that we have,” Phillips said. “We weren’t fazed at all by allowing some points and by allowing some big plays. We just got back to who we are as a defense and answered in the second half.
He added that coaches had a simple message.
“Just lock in, just attention to details, focus on the little things and just have fun and play loose,” he said. “That’s who we are as a defense. I think we’re most successful when we trust each other and playing loose and having fun. That’s what we did in the second half.”
Detroit coach Dan Campbell, who was Miami’s interim coach to close the 2015 season, blamed his offense for the second-half collapse.
“We were pretty good in the first half offensively,” he said. “In the second half, we stalled out with penalties and drops.
“I didn’t feel like they did anything defensively that took us out of what we wanted to do offensively. Self-inflicted wounds. We took ourselves out of rhythm.”