Brent Grimes and the Dolphins secondary helped make the grade, as the Dolphins improved to 2-0 on the young season.
For just the second time since 2002, the Miami Dolphins are off to a 2-0 start and are tied for the lead in the AFC East.
While the Week 1 victory against the lowly Cleveland Browns captured the attention of few, Miami's performance against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Cots raised eyebrows and expectations for the new-look (new logo) Dolphins.
Although Miami's performance was far from perfect, there is plenty of praise in this week's report card.
An impressive Ryan Tannehill threw for an 319 yards in his best start as quarterback for the Dolphins.
While the most hyped "toe-to-toe" duel of this past weekend took place on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a more competitive and intriguing matchup featured a pair of sophomore quarterbacks in Indianapolis.
And in their second meeting since the 2012 NFL draft, Ryan Tannehill evened the score.
Without a doubt, Sunday in Indianapolis featured Ryan Tannehill's best start as quarterback for the team that drafted him just seven spots after Luck 17 months ago.
Tannehill threw for 319 yards, the second highest of his young career. He posted a quarterback rating above 100 (107.4) for just the third time in his 18 professional starts. His completion percentage was better than that of his Indianapolis' counterpart and, unlike Luck, Tannehill did not throw for a single interception.
In what turned out to be the Dolphins game-winning drive, Tannehill completed all three of his attempts for an astonishing 65 yards. His 34-yard completion to Mike Wallace late in the drive set up a short goal line score from the one yard line, clinching the Miami victory.
Although he still needs to improve on holding onto the ball, especially against contact, Tannehill's three fumbles (one lost), are more of a reflection of the struggling offensive line than they are his ball security.
While no one is arguing that Tannehill has superseded Luck as the premier quarterback from the 2012 draft, his performance Sunday in Indianapolis was second to no one.
Not even Luck.
Lamar Miller and Miami backfield rebounded significantly from an NFL worst 20 yards rushing in Week 1.
It's hard to imagine that the Dolphins running game could possibly get any worse than it was against Cleveland in Week 1.
Fortunately for the 'Phins, the backs rebounded in a big way against the Colts.
Led by a combination of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, the Dolphins rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Miller covered 69 yards of turf on 14 carries and exploded to the edge for the Dolphins second score of the game with a 10-yard touchdown run.
It is clear that in the Joe Philbin-led offense that the running game will never be the focus or priority in Miami, a far cry from the Tony Sporano and Dave Wannstedt-led teams that relied heavily (at times exclusively) on the ground game. But its effectiveness helped set up some play action throws for Tannehill downfield to receivers Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace, and has been especially productive inside the red zone.
Neither of the Miami running backs coughed the ball up on Sunday, and Thomas made a huge recovery after a second consecutive Tannehill strip fumble inside of Miami territory.
Miller sealed the deal for the Dolphins late as he surged through the interior of the Colts defensive line for an eight-yard run, just enough for a first down; keeping Luck and the Indy offense on the sidelines until time expired.
Mike Wallace was open early and often in Indianapolis catching a career best nine receptions for 115 yards in the Miami victory.
Was there any doubt that Mike Wallace would respond this way?
After an embarrassing in output his Dolphin debut (one reception for 15 yards) that inspired his postgame frustrations, with either himself or the offense (who knows?), Wallace torched the Colts secondary from start to finish in Week 2.
Not since his performance in Superbowl XLV as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers did Mike Wallace have as many receptions as he did Sunday with the Dolphins. Wallace's nine receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown helped quiet the critics who were quick to question the hefty five-year, $60 million dollar contract he inked with Miami in the offseason.
On the team's opining drive, Wallace was targeted on three of Tannehill's first four attempts, massing 46 yards and the game's first score.
Late in the third quarter, at the Indianapolis 35-yard line, Wallace fought through a defensive holding penalty and still extended for a game-changing reception that set the Dolphins offense up on on the Indianapolis 1-yard line.
For a second straight week Brian Hartline surpassed at least 60 yards of receiving and, even with the emergence of Wallace, still serves as Tannehill's most reliable weapon. Four of Hartline's five receptions were for first downs Sunday and the former Buckeye currently ranks fourth in receptions and sixth in yards among AFC wideouts.
Brandon Gibson was nearly invisible against the Colts totaling just one reception for 11 yards and no other wide receiver was even targeted Sunday. If Gibson does not make more of an impact, and Philbin refuses to utilize any other receiver on the roster, Miami could be in jeopardy down the road as defenses find ways to limit both Wallace and Hartline.
Charles Clay performed excellently for a second straight week contributing with a 67 yard recepetion, the longest of the afternoon.
When Dustin Keller went down in Week 4 of the preseason, the outlook for the tight end position was quite bleak for the Miami Dolphins.
The hope was that Charles Clay could simply hold down the fort until one of the younger tight end prospects emerged, perhaps later in the season.
However, Charles Clay has been more than expected at the tight end position. He runs solid routes and has very good hands and pass-catching instincts, evident on his 67-yard reception that forced Clay to turn awkwardly to receive the ball between two defenders.
Although Clay does not possess blazing speed, he is still a mismatch for any linebacker to cover which allowed him to absorb five passes for 109 yards receiving against the Colts.
Equally, Clay's strength is an asset down near the goal line where he lined up at fullback to score a one-yard, game-winning touchdown at the end of the third quarter.
It's still disappointing to see that neither Michael Egnew (third round pick in the 2012 NFL draft) or rookie tight end, Dion Sims, can seem to find the playing field on Sundays. It's still too early to tell if that is due to the style of the team's offense or to their poor development as young professionals.
For consecutive weeks the offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill, submitting five sacks to the Colts defense.
Had the Dolphins not escaped Indianapolis this past Sunday with a victory, the 'Phins offensive line would have shouldered much of the blame.
Just a week after submitting four sacks to the Browns, the front five found a way to look worse against the Colts. Tannehill fell victim to five sacks, and on three of those occasions lost possession of the football.
The O-line was also responsible for a potentially disastrous sequence in the final quarter of play. Holding onto a four-point lead with just 12 minutes left in the game, the Dolphins attempted a quarterback sneak on fourth down at the Indianapolis 39-yard line. Instead of converting on the fourth-and-inches, the interior of the Dolphins offensive line was devoured by the Indy defense and Ryan Tannehill was pushed backwards into the backfield.
In reality, the offensive line may turn out to be even worse than Dolphin fans feared. Only the Browns and Jaguars have submitted more sacks through two weeks than the Dolphins. On five occasions so far this season a Miami running back has been tackled in the backfield for negative yardage, second worse in the league.
At least this past week the front five performed better in run blocks, opening up gaps for Lamar Miller to gain chunks of yardage between the tackles.
Mike Wallace can also thank the right side of the Dolphins line for his first score, a bubble screen from the 18-yard line in which the offensive line reached to the second level of the defense and plowed a clear path for Wallace to walk into the end zone.
With that said, this unit must fix their issues in pass protection for the Dolphins to stand any chance against Atlanta this upcoming weekend.
Too often, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck evaded the pressure from the Dolphins defensive line.
Cameron Wake, and the rest of the defensive line, was invisible this past Sunday against the Colts.
Just a week after sacking Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden three times, Wake was dominated in Week 2. He recorded just one lonely tackle with zero sacks and zero hits on the quarterback.
Even when Miami's defensive line did reach the quarterback Sunday, they failed to capitalize on the opportunity. In one sequence, rookie pass-rusher Dion Jordan showed tremendous athleticism in getting to the quarterback. But instead of landing a ferocious sack he merely shoved the quarterback the outside of the pocket and Luck converted the play into positive yards.
Too often, especially in the first half, Luck was neither rushed 'nor bothered in the pocket and made big plays downfield. When he did face the rush, he evaded tacklers and made plays with his feet--rushing for 38 yards on four separate attempts.
Jared Odrick did not look any more promising at the defensive tackle position Sunday than he's looked at the defensive end spot for the previous four seasons.
However, led by Randy Starks and Paul Solai the rest of interior of the defensive line was solid, especially against the run.
Phillip Wheeler and the Dolphins linbacking crew had plenty to celebrate Sunday as they helped clinched the victory for Dolphins.
The Dolphins new linebackers are fast, athletic, and explosive.
Essentially, they are everything Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby were not.
Collectively, Phillip Wheeler and Darnell Ellerbee were responsible for 26 total tackles against the Colts. Their ability to play the pass, especially when matched up against tight ends, played a significant part in the Dolphins holding the Colts to a pedestrian 7-15 on third down.
Phillip Wheeler deflected two of Luck's passes, one of which he nearly intercepted.
On a fourth down, with just under two minutes to play in the game, Wheeler exploded through the Colts' offensive line to sack both Luck and any chance of an Indianapolis comeback.
Unfortunately, Koa Misi (the sole remaining starter from the 2012 linebacking core) failed to make any noteworthy plays or tackles for yet another week. He must step up in Week 3 as he'll likely share responsibility in covering the league's elite pass-catching tight end, Tony Gonzalez.
Brent Grimes led the way for the Dolphins secondary, picking off Andrew Luck late in the fourth quarter.
For as great as the Dolphins secondary played last week in Cleveland, they were every bit as pathetic in their first half performance against Indianapolis.
The Dolphins secondary gave up over 200 yards passing the first half. Andrew Luck had multiple plays of 20 yards or more downfield in which receivers, especially T.Y. Hilton, had Dolphin cornerbacks beat by two and three steps.
The Colts first touchdown drive took less than five minutes and covered 80 yards of turf because of poor play by the safeties, especially Jimmy Wilson. Their following touchdown drive eclipsed 78 yards in just over a minute.
However, the defensive unit returned to form in the second half. The Colts managed just three points over the final two quarters and totaled just 128 yards of total offense.
Protecting a four point lead early in the fourth quarter, cornerback Brent Grimes made a beautiful adjustment on a deep pass from Luck into the end zone, gained position on receiver Reggie Wayne and climbed the ladder to intercept the throw.
Caleb Sturgis nailed a 54-yard field goal that seemingly ended the first half and tied the score in Week 2.
However, after sticking the pigskin between the uprights, Sturgis and the Dolphins field goal unit, were forced to attempt the kick again after the Colts were credited with a timeout.
So much for "icing" the rookie kicker as Sturgis responded by delivering yet another perfect kick on his second attempt.
While that was his only field goal of the day, Sturgis's kick helped stop the Miami bleeding as it ended a 14-0 Indianapolis run.
Marcus Thigpen was, again, dependable in the return game, taking two kickoffs for a total of 73 yards.
The normally reliable Brandon Fields shanked a punt early in the second quarter, netting just 25 yards on the attempt. However, the poor punt didn't cost the Dolphins and Fields returned to form as the game progressed.
Joe Philbin and the Dolphins coaching staff directed a well-balanced attack to improve to 2-0 on the road in 2013.
Joe Philbin and the Miami coaching staff called a fantastic game in Week 2.
The theme for the Dolphins second straight road victory was "balance."
Philbin and offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman, called 34 passes to 27 runs. This balance let the Dolphins control the ball for nearly half of the game and average over six yards per play for 398 yards of total offense.
Sherman fixed the problems of the offense in Week 1 by getting the ball to Mike Wallace and by improving five-fold in the run game.
The Miami defense limited Andrew Luck's favorite target, Reggie Wayne, to five passes for a pedestrian 46 yards.
Most impressive, neither the Dolphins offense nor defense were called for a single penalty on the road in Indianapolis in Week 2.
Although it is still very early in the season, the Dolphin's are playing as a very disciplined unit that exemplify Philbin's eye for detail.
With excellent quarterback play and superb coaching, Philbin's Dolphins will look to improve to 3-0 this Sunday against Atlanta.