The last time the Miami Dolphins saw Natrone Means, the San Diego running back was striding into their end zone. Repeatedly.
That was just over a year ago, when Means, a rookie at the time, ran for three touchdowns to help the Chargers rout the Dolphins 45-20 in a regular-season game at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium.
The loss was the fourth in a five-game skid that closed the Dolphins’ season and ended their playoff hopes. Now, they get another shot at the Chargers on Sunday in an AFC divisional playoff game at San Diego.
This time, the Dolphins know they can’t let Means have a similar day, not if they want their season to continue.
“It all starts for us with stopping the running game,” linebacker Bryan Cox said. “We have to be successful in that area to be successful in this game.”
For the Dolphins (11-6), run defense has been the one constant this season. They set a franchise record by allowing just 89.4 rushing yards per game, sixth-best in the NFL.
Last year, Miami yielded 104.1 per game, including an unsightly 220 against San Diego on that Monday night in December. This season, San Diego (11-5) was the NFL’s seventh-best rushing team (115.8 average).
Leading the way is “Natrone Bomb,” was was second in the AFC with 1,350 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 343 carries (3.9 average).
Among his three touchdowns against the Dolphins was a 65-yarder, still his career-best run.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.