MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Xavien Howard’s 30-yard interception return for a touchdown highlighted a dominating defensive effort by the Miami Dolphins, and they snapped a five-game losing streak Sunday with a 35-9 victory over the Denver Broncos, who lost their eighth in a row.
Miami scored two safeties in a game for the first time in franchise history and held Denver to 1 for 13 on third-down conversions. Trevor Siemian, the Broncos’ third starting quarterback in as many weeks, went 20 for 42 for 219 yards with three interceptions.
Kenyan Drake rushed for 120 yards for Miami on 23 carries, both career highs. He scored on a 42-yard touchdown run — only the Dolphins’ second rush for a TD this year.
Miami (5-7) won for the first time since Week 7, while the Broncos (3-9) went from bad to worse, extending their longest skid in 50 years.
Howard scored on the first interception by a Miami boundary cornerback all season, and added another pick in the fourth quarter to set up the Dolphins’ final touchdown.
They struck for two touchdowns in seven seconds to build an uncustomary lead. Miami was ahead at halftime for only the second time all season, and led after three quarters for the first time.
Adam Gase didn’t hold back coaching against close friend and counterpart Vance Joseph. Miami pulled off a successful onside kick in the fourth quarter while leading 33-9.
Jay Cutler went 18 for 31 for 235 yards and two scores but threw two interceptions. Justin Simmons scored Denver’s touchdown on a 65-yard interception return.
Miami’s Julius Thomas celebrated a 9-yard scoring catch on his knees with a ride-‘em-cowboy dance. One play later, Howard stepped in front of a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas for his first career interception and sprinted to the end zone.
Denver fell to 0-6 on the road and looked lost. Miami took a 2-0 lead when the Broncos botched a third-down play at their 5. Mark Paradis’ high snap deflected off Siemian’s hands, and the ball squirted out of the back of the end zone.
Denver’s Isaiah McKenzie fumbled on a punt return and recovered in his end zone for another safety in the fourth quarter.
Drake had his first 100-yard rushing game and made three receptions for 21 yards. The Dolphins won for the first time since they traded running back Jay Ajayi on Oct. 31.
Dolphins: C Mike Pouncey left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. ... CB Cordrea Tankersley left the game with an injured shoulder, returned and departed again because of an ankle injury.
Broncos: S Justin Simmons was evaluated for a possible concussion and cleared to return. ... LB Joseph Jones was helped off the field in the fourth quarter.
The Dolphins host New England on Monday, Dec. 11. The Patriots beat Miami 35-17 a week ago.
Denver returns home to face the New York Jets next Sunday.