The Miami Dolphins won their first home opener since 2005. It’s the first win at home to open the season for owner Stephen Ross. To say that he was thrilled would be an understatement. To say the crowd that showed up was energized would also be an understatement.
Ryan Tannehill was applauded. Stephen Ross was shown on the JumboTron and he was applauded. Reggie Bush left the field late in the 4th quarter and was applauded. It was a surreal scene that seemed at the start might end completely different.
The Dolphins opened their home season with an opening game drive for Ryan Tannehill’s first professional TD. A run on a designed roll out. The defense shut the Raiders out on their first drive but gave up a 64 yard touchdown on a swing pass to tie the game up on the Raiders second series. The Dolphins offense that seemed to be clicking on drive one suddenly went silent.
Down by 3 with 50 seconds left in the half, the Dolphins were booed after they opted to take a knee rather than try and drive the field with 2 time outs in their pocket. The Raiders took the opening second half kick-off but the Dolphins came out ready to go.
Reggie Bush took over the game and rushed for both a 23 yard and a 65 yard touchdown run to put the Phins up 21 to 10. Then Tannehill took over throwing his first NFL TD pass after a Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
The Tannehill TD was somewhat symbolic for those who remember Dolphins history. The first TD thrown by Dan Marino was to Joe Rose who sported number 80 on his jersey. Ryan Tannehill’s first TD pass was also to a TE. Anthony Fasano wearing number 80.
The Dolphins wore down the Raiders who came into Miami as the favored team even after a short week and a cross country trip. The Dolphins looked early on as though the lines were correct. No one was more surprisingly bad as LT Jake Long.
Long struggled for most if not all of the 2nd quarter where Tannehill found very little time in the pocket. At one point, the Dolphins rolled Reggie Bush to the left to help stall the Oakland rush from Tannehill’s blindside. Long got his act together in the second half and the Dolphins offensive line gave fans a glimpse of what the team could do with good upfront blocking.
Tannehill finished the game with no tipped balls, no interceptions, one TD on the ground and one in the air. He completed 18 of his 32 passes for 200 yards even but the real talk surrounded the emergence of Ryan Tannehill the leader. He simply wouldn’t quit.
Of course the story of the game was the 172 rushing yards by Reggie Bush on 26 attempts. His two TD’s ignited a stadium and a team effort that most Dolphins fans haven’t seen since the 2008 season. Rookie Lamar Miller made his presence felt as he added 10 carries for 65 yards and also gained his first trip into the endzone.
While Bush is expected to be dominant given his athletic ability, the biggest positive surprise on the offense without question was the play of Brian Hartline who reached career highs of 9 catches for 111 yards. His ability to gel with Tannehill after missing all of training camp was a welcomed surprise for a team in desperate need of WR’s.
Defensively, the Dolphins gave up a lot of yards in the air. Carson Palmer threw for 373 yards and 1 TD but they didn’t break. Instead, the kept the Raiders in front of them and swarmed the running game holding Darren McFadden to just 22 yards on 11 carries and the Raiders offense to a whopping 23 yards on the day.
Today gave Dolphins fans hope and while message boards were swamped with the fantastic feeling of an early season win that puts the Dolphins tied for first in the division, there were those who wanted everyone to make sure they realized that we have seen this before.
What we haven’t seen, in a very long time, was a rookie head coach get his first ceremonial Gatorade shower. Joe Philbin now has 1 win and 1 loss under his belt with the NY Jets slated for next weekend. The Dolphins came out on top but the win wasn’t the big story. That belonged to how they won. Together. As a team.