What we learned: Exotic smashmouth flourishes in Miami

*Welcome to Week 5! Tom Brady returned with a vengeance in Cleveland, while the Browns lost their third quarterback due to injury. The Battle for the Beltway came down to the last minute. Marcus Mariota and the Titans got back on track in South Beach. The Vikings are still undefeated. Here's what we've learned in the Tennessee-Miami game: *

  1. The exotic smashmouth was fun to talk about in the preseason. Who doesn't enjoy exotic things? But when Tennessee's offensive line is creating holes wide enough for dump trucks to barrel through, that's when it truly flourishes. That was Sunday for the Titans, who rushed for 235 yards and rarely saw a running play end without of a gain of at least five yards. DeMarco Murray ran with authority finishing with 121 yards on 27 carries. Tennessee mixed up traditional power runs with zone read plays, leading to a 60-yard rushing day for Marcus Mariota. Derrick Henry deserves credit for his 54 yards on seven carries, too.
  1. This was a battle of quarterbacks who make you wonder if life is really ever fair. Mariota has struggled in Mike Mularkey's offense, showing issues with completing passes beyond 15 yards. He did connect with Delanie Walker on perhaps his prettiest pass of the day, a 20-yard completion down the seam for a Tennessee touchdown. Mariota's stat line -- 20-of-29 passing, 163 yards, three touchdowns -- looks better than his performance did, but that's been the case for much of the season.

Ryan Tannehill, meanwhile, continued to struggle, completing 12 of 18 passes for 191 yards and hitting most of his safely open receivers, but also tossing two interceptions, including a late pass he sailed beyond the window and directly into the hands of safety Daimion Stafford.

  1. The Dolphins are 1-4 and are struggling to remain afloat. Coach Adam Gase lamented a defense trying too hard to help other teammates who missed assignments, or needed assistance bringing down ball carriers, which he said led to "leaks" springing elsewhere. The situation under center doesn't help -- but neither does a defense that has acted more as a sieve than anything.

-- Nick Shook

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