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Dolphins find way to run against Jets and remain in playoff hunt

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) and

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) and quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) celebrate after the two combined for a touchdown pass against the Jets during the second half. (Dec. 1, 2013) Credit: AP

On this day, the Miami Dolphins were proud of their offensive linemen.

Miami ran the ball for 125 yards against the Jets' top-ranked rushing defense and held the ball for nearly 39 of the game's 60 minutes in a 23-3 victory at MetLife Stadium Sunday.

The hazing scandal that cost the Dolphins starting offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin sullied the franchise's image around the NFL. It also had a big impact on the field, as the Dolphins were forced to shuffle the unit in front of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

But Tannehill praised the offensive line as one of the keys to the Dolphins improving to 6-6 and having a chance at the final AFC wild-card spot.

"We knew we were going against a good defense, especially on the run," Tannehill said. "The offensive line came out with the mind-set that we were going to rush the ball. The backs did a great job of hitting holes when they were there and obviously that kind of set the tone for the game."

Tannehill, who was sacked 44 times in Miami's first 11 games, went down only once Sunday. He was 28-for-43 for 331 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Lamar Miller led the Dolphins with 72 yards on 22 carries. Tannehill (three carries, 22 yards) and Mike Gillislee (six carries, 21 yards) chipped in to give Miami the offensive balance it had been seeking.

"You can't say enough about the run game today against the No. 1-ranked run defense coming in," Tannehill said. "We knew it was going to be tough to run, but the offensive line did a great job opening up holes, which opened up some play-action stuff and was able to get the ball downfield a little bit."

The Dolphins have stabilized their line without Incognito, who remains suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. Martin, who alleges he was the victim of hazing from Incognito and others, left the team Oct. 28. Martin has been placed on the non-football injury list and will not return this season.

Along with the scandal, the Dolphins also have had to overcome a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season. They came into Sunday with the same record as the Jets and considered it a virtual elimination game for the team that lost. Or, as Tannehill put it: "We knew the situation. We're not stupid."

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