The one play that changed everything for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins lost a game they were not expected to win but a game that they should have won and it all came down to one play.
On Sunday the Miami Dolphins had a commanding lead over their hosts the Cincinnati Bengals. Miami led 17-3 when one singular play changed the entire momentum of the game and put the Dolphins on their heals that would lead to a 27-0 run for the Bengals.
The Bengals had just scored their first points of the game on a 51 yard field goal and the Dolphins had a lot of momentum on both sides of the ball. While the offense wasn’t scoring points, they were moving the ball and eating up the clock but more importantly they were keeping the Bengals offense on the sideline.
The Dolphins began the drive that would change the game at their 25 yard line and would advance the ball to the 34 facing a 3rd and one. Miami had been running the ball well and it appeared that Adam Gase would once again put Frank Gore up the middle. There was also some thought that Tannehill would keep the ball himself and dive for the first down.
Tannehill took the snap and appeared ready to toss the ball to his running back but instead he changed directions on the designed reverse rollout and could have easily turned up field to gain one yard. Instead he opted to throw the ball.
Deep down field Kenny Stills was covered not by one defender but two. The ball was thrown on the run and fell incomplete. Green grass in front of the running quarterback. Green grass that would have netted a first down and continued a drive that would eat the clock. One play that would in effect, change the outcome of the game.
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Miami punted on the next play and the Dolphins special teams did a good job of pinning the Bengals back. Matt Haack‘s punt and subsequent coverage team pinned the Bengals at the 14 but Martrell Spaight opted for some extracurricular activity and taunted the Bengals returner. The unsportsmanlike penalty moved the ball out close to the 30.
The Dolphins defense stood their ground and on a third and five from the Miami 43 the defense forced QB Andy Dalton into a bad throw setting up fourth down. But. T.J. McDonald was flagged for unnecessary roughness hitting a defenseless receiver after the ball had already gone by him. The replay showed that the contact was actually minimal and incidental but the flag was still on the field.
The drive extended, the Bengals scored their first touchdown three plays later.
All the momentum that Miami had built, the 17-3 lead, a stellar performance from a defense that was completely wiped out by injuries and depth issues, were wasted. Wasted because the Dolphins quarterback felt the need to throw a pass deep into double coverage rather than run the ball one yard in front of one defender.
Tannehill would turn the ball over three times in the final quarter and two of those were returned for touchdowns. The defense played its best game of the season and Ryan Tannehill played his worst. There are no excuses for poor line play. Tannehill had the chance to extend one single drive that would have inevitably changed the future that had yet to play out. He chose wrong.
Adam Gase said after the game that everything changed when left tackle Laremy Tunsil went out with a concussion. He cited the fact that the offense wasn’t the same after that. He should have pointed to his quarterback because frankly, Ryan Tannehill could have made plays but didn’t. The game changed when Tannehill made the wrong decision.