Today’s game in London was not the NFL putting its best foot forward for the U.K. fan base. The Saints beat the Dolphins 20-0 in an ugly, penalty-filled game that featured Ed Hochuli more prominently than any of the players on either team. The game was a mess of mistakes on both sides.
It took Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints six days and a first half before they finally found their footing in soggy Britain.
Brees threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns and the Saints scored all but three of their points in the second half as they defeated the Miami Dolphins 20-0 on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Wembley Stadium.
For the Dolphins, the season to date has been a disaster.
There has been many issues, starting with the quarterback. Jay Cutler, signed in a desperate attempt to keep the season alive after the loss of Ryan Tannehill, played his second consecutive lousy game. It’s fair to ask whether Cutler is really any better than Matt Moore. If he’s not, the Dolphins made a big mistake in signing him.
Saints beat Dolphins in London with first shutout since 2012 with a smothering defense that made timely plays and an offense that dominated time of possession. It was the first Saints’ first shutout since Dec. 16, 2012 when they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41-0.
New Orleans improved to 2-0 all-time in the NFL’s International Series in London, but, more importantly, the Saints bounced back to 2-2 before next week’s bye. By allowing just 185 yards and no points, New Orleans will significantly improve its ranking in the league after two lousy defensive efforts to open the year.
The Saints’ defense was excellent in all facets of the game. Even when the unit struggled, someone found a way to make a play that prevented the Dolphins from taking advantage of any brief offensive success.
The Miami Dolphins may only be playing their third game of the season but the feel amongst the players and coaches is that a win in London was crucial. The Dolphins played extremely poor last weekend against the New York Jets, and they repeated this Sunday, falling under .500.
Cutler’s best chance came on the opening drive when he completed six of seven passes for 70 yards and marched the Dolphins down to the Saints 4-yard line. On first-and-goal, Cutler threw one to tight end Julius Thomas, who was covered by Saints cornerback Ken Crawley, and resulted in a Crawley interception.
After that, the Dolphins never got close to scoring again on Sunday.
For the Saints, Michael Thomas had a touchdown reception in the third quarter, Alvin Kamara added one in the fourth and Will Lutz made two of his three field-goal attempts for New Orleans (2-2), which arrived for the game on Monday and won the lowest-scoring game ever held in London.
“The defense got a shutout,” Brees said. “Offensively, we sustained drives, we did all the things you need to do for winning football.”
It was expected to be a big homecoming for the Dolphins’ Jay Ajayi, who was born in the city, but the running back finished with 46 yards on 12 carries.
Lutz missed his first try, a 41-yarder, wide right on the second play of the second quarter, and the teams threatened to have the first scoreless opening half since Week 14 of the 2011 season until Lutz connected from 43 yards with no time remaining.
Brees found Thomas, who had eight catches for 89 yards, on a 4-yarder to push the score to 10-0 in the third quarter, and Kamara took a shovel pass from Brees 12 yards into the end zone with 3:57 remaining to wrap up the victory.
Kamara finished with 96 total yards, including 71 receiving, and fellow running back Mark Ingram ran for 45 yards.
Jay Cutler completed 20 of 28 passes for Miami (1-2), which finished with 185 yards, its fewest since its last shutout, a 19-0 loss at Buffalo on Dec. 22, 2013.
New Orleans’ last shut out an opponent on Dec. 16, 2012, a 41-0 win against Tampa Bay.
“Obviously those first two weeks weren’t what we aspired to be, we played two real good teams, the Vikings and Patriots,” Brees said. “Basically now, two road wins … I felt we had a great plan coming out here, obviously it’s a tough trip coming across the pond.”
The NFL announced during the second quarter that it had fixed the communication issues that plagued the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins for the first quarter of Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium.
According to the league, the Dolphins’ coach-to-player communication system wasn’t working at the start of the game due to a frequency issue, so the football operations department “enacted an equity shutdown” of both systems. The problem didn’t extend to the coach-to-coach audio channel.
Coach Sean Payton was visibly frustrated on the sideline with being unable to relay plays from his headset to quarterback Drew Brees’ helmet. The Saints had to relay calls from Payton to backup quarterback Chase Daniel to Brees.
Up next for the Dolphins
The home debut, at last, against the Tennessee Titans — Miami’s latest opener since 1987.
The New Orleans Saints Beat the Dolphins 20-0 in an Ugly, Penalty-Filled Game. The game was a mess of mistakes on both sides. Miami Dolphins fell under .500.