DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins dispensed with any pretense of suspense regarding their quarterback situation.
Ryan Tannehill was ruled out of Sunday’s playoff game at Pittsburgh , and backup Matt Moore will start for the fourth week in a row. The Dolphins announced the decision Thursday after determining Tannehill still isn’t ready to practice because of a sprained left knee.
“It felt like it was the right thing to do,” coach Adam Gase said, “just so we can move on in this week and not play, `What are we going to do?’ and focus on what we’re doing right now with Matt.”
Moore, a 10th-year pro, is 2-1 as Tannehill’s replacement and will make his first career postseason start.
“He knows he’s our relief pitcher,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “We try to make the decision early in the week, because it’s hard to get two guys prepared. He assumed he was doing it. He has continued to prepare as a starter.”
If the Dolphins win Sunday, Tannehill could return for their second-round game Jan. 14 at New England. Such a scenario is the reason Miami hasn’t put him on injured reserve.
Gase said he believes Tannehill is close to returning to practice.
“We’ve got to keep talking to him, and he needs to keep letting us know where he’s at and how he feels,” Gase said. “We try to do different drills with him and just to try to figure out what he can articulate to us.”
The Dolphins are 2-1 with Moore starting. He has eight touchdown passes, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 105.6, which is higher than Tannehill’s career-best 93.5 this year.
“He’s been in the league for more time than Tannehill, so he’s got more experience,” Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell said. “For us on the back end, whether it’s Matt Moore, whether it’s Tannehill, it doesn’t make a difference for our preparation. Our job is still to stop the run, create turnovers and put pressure on the quarterback.”
Tannehill hadn’t missed a game in five NFL seasons until he was sidelined against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14. He has never played in the postseason, and the playoff game will be Miami’s first since 2008.