Brian Hartline raced wide open across the field and with a fling of the wrist Ryan Tannehill threw a perfect pass that hit Hartline in stride. The resulting TD had fans screaming and put Hartline over 240 yards on the day and Ryan Tannehill over 400. Records for both. While the Dolphins appeared to have taken over the flow of the game on Sean Smith’s end-zone interception, his 2nd of the game and a career high as well, the Dolphins still found themselves on the losing end of yet another heartbreaking OT loss.
Yet for many Miami Dolphins fans, the loss to the Cardinals left them feeling much better than they had in years. Finally, the Dolphins appeared to have made progress.
Losing streaks are not fun by any measure and the loss to the Cardinals officially put the Dolphins streak at two. Yet unlike the week before when the Dolphins lost to the NY Jets in almost the exact same manner, this time, the Dolphins lost to a team that actually is talented and driven. The Cardinals are not only undefeated but did not play the Dolphins like they were looking ahead on the schedule.
And the Dolphins came once again, within one missed field goal of winning the game.
Ryan Tannehill exploded on the field with 431 yards on 41 attempts and 26 completions. He threw two interceptions, one came when Brian Hartline slipped on a comeback route leaving the defender easily in line for the ball and the other in overtime when he was hit while throwing. That INT led to the winning FG. Tannehill also fumbled after taking a hit after dropping two steps back from behind center.
Without question Tannehill’s TO’s hurt the team but his INT’s to some degree are forgivable given the surrounding circumstance of each. What wasn’t however was the fumble by WR Legedu Naane who caught a pass in stride, tripped over an ant in the grass, then without getting hit, fumbled the ball to Patrick Petersen. It was his first catch of the year.
The Dolphins loss was a gut wrenching affair but many fans took comfort in seeing a very well played game against a team that was built defensively to smack them around. The Dolphins kept Tannehill protected most of the day, giving up four sacks to the team leading the league. The Cardinal defensive front are the best in the NFL. Fast, productive, and rarely miss on the first attempt at a tackle. Their secondary is also one of the best and the Dolphins torched the defense for 431 through the air.
The team never gave up but in the end, a couple of mistakes cost them the game. Mistakes that a young team makes. This team doesn’t know how to close out a game yet and it isn’t Mike Shermans’ play calling or DC’s Kevin Coyles schemes, it’s youth and inexperience. This team is learning how to get leads, how to attack the opposition and slowly they are learning what it takes to win and put games away. They just haven’t nailed that one down yet.
Sunday provided the Dolphins with something that the Jets game couldn’t, confidence in themselves. Confidence and belief that they could go into a hostile environment, play against a very good football team, and win. Win if they can fix the mistakes that inevitably cost them the game. When they figure out to avoid those mistakes at the end of the game, look out.
In the AFC East after the first month of play, the Dolphins are last in the division but it could be argued that they have played as good if not better than every other team in the division. They are only 1 game behind the division winners. ONE GAME. The Patriots lost to the Cardinals in a similar fashion two weeks ago and the Jets simply are getting more lucky bounces than big plays.
The season is far from over and the Dolphins have a schedule ahead that plays favorable for them. The Bengals next week and the Rams. It’s very possible they could be 3-3 after those games. Perhaps fans are taking comfort in the fact that the Dolphins are finally showing signs of life and more importantly excitement. This is not the same boring team that we have seen the last few years and there is hope that finally the Dolphins have found a franchise QB. Not because he threw for 431 yards but because he takes command on the field. He acts like a leader, the players treat him like a leader, and he believes that he can lead them.
The Dolphins after four weeks of play have won 1 single game. Yet they have been a missed field goal away from winning two others and six minutes removed from winning their first game of the season. While the Dolphins didn’t beat the Jets, they haven’t lost the Rams, Titans, or Colts either. They have lost to two games to two of the three undefeated teams in the NFL.
And that is nothing feel down about!