MIAMI GARDENS (AP) — Joe Philbin earned a sideline dousing as time expired and a game ball in the Miami Dolphins' jubilant locker room, thanks to an achievement neither of his immediate predecessors managed: He won a home opener.
Thanks to Reggie Bush and a stout defense, the Dolphins dominated on the ground Sunday and beat the Oakland Raiders 35-13 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
The victory was Philbin's first as a head coach and Miami's first in a home opener since 2005. Tony Sparano's teams lost their first home game each of the past four seasons and Cam Cameron started 0-13 in his only year as coach in 2007.
“It's great for the entire organization,” Philbin said. “I feel happy for our players that all their hard work and effort paid off.”
The Dolphins improved to 1-1. Bush ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns to help Miami outgain Oakland on the ground 259-23.
“Our identity right now is we've got to run the ball effectively and stop the run,” Philbin said.
Mistake-free play at quarterback helped, too. Ryan Tannehill threw his first NFL touchdown pass, ran for another and avoided any turnovers after deflections and three interceptions tarnished his pro debut a week earlier.
Bush broke four tackles on a 23-yard touchdown run that put the Dolphins ahead to stay in the third quarter. After they forced a punt, Bush struck again, this time on a 65-yard scoring run.
Far from home on a sweltering afternoon, the Raiders wilted down the stretch. Miami employed a no-huddle approach most of the game and pulled away in the final 20 minutes by mounting touchdown drives of 80, 80 and 75 yards.
“The last few years we haven't done a good enough job at home, so it feels good to get one for the fans,” Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long said.
The festive mood was a welcome change for the Dolphins, who are rebuilding after a third consecutive losing season and coming off their most lopsided season-opening loss since 1988.
“We talked all week about bouncing back and just winning one game,” Bush said. “This game is huge for our confidence.''
Miami take on archrival New York Jets at 1 p.m. Sunday also at Sun Life Stadium.