The Miami Dolphins achieved their season-high point total against Tennessee, and it only took three quarterbacks, a flea-flicker and the revival of the wildcat.
Defense helped, too. Randy Moss managed just one catch in his first game with the Titans, takeaways led to two touchdowns and the Dolphins won 29-17 Sunday.
After Miami quarterbacks Chad Pennington (shoulder) and Chad Henne (knee) departed with injuries, third-stringer Tyler Thigpen led an 85-yard drive in the fourth quarter to seal the bizarre victory.
The Dolphins (5-4) snapped a five-game home losing streak, including three losses this season. Tennessee (5-4) lost coming off a bye for the first time in five years.
Kerry Collins started at quarterback for the Titans and struggled through the first half before departing with a calf injury. Vince Young replaced him despite a sprained left ankle and threw for only 92 yards with two turnovers.
Pennington’s return lasted two plays before he left with another injury to his troublesome right shoulder. He was hit while throwing an incompletion on the first play, completed a pass on the next play, then called timeout and left the game.
Pennington, promoted when Henne was benched during the week, hadn’t played since a shoulder injury ended his 2009 season in Game 3.
Henne hurt his knee late in the third quarter when he was hit by 305-pound Tony Brown and fell awkwardly as he threw an incompletion. After being treated by trainers, he walked off the field.
That left things to the wildcat and Thigpen. The wildcat, dormant most of the season, assumed an important role in a drive for a field goal for a 23-17 lead immediately after Henne was hurt.
Thigpen, playing for the first time this year, went 4 for 6 for 64 yards and one score – a 9-yard pass to Anthony Fasano.
Desperate to spark an offense ranked last in the AFC in scoring, the Dolphins tried a fake punt and two flea-flickers, including one with Brandon Marshall throwing deep.
Marshall threw incomplete, and the fake punt failed, leading to a Tennessee field goal. But the other flea flicker worked with a Henne pass for 54 yards – Miami’s longest gain of the season – to set up a field goal.
Meanwhile, the Titans sputtered regardless of the quarterback. On his third play of the game, Young fumbled when sacked by Yeremiah Bell. Randy Starks recovered at the Titans’ 13, and two plays later Patrick Cobbs scored on a 13-yard reception to put Miami ahead 20-10.
Young then led a 73-yard touchdown drive that ended with his 14-yard scoring pass to Nate Washington. But Young threw an interception trying to rally the Titans when they were down 12 in the final minutes.
Moss, shut out by Vontae Davis in a matchup earlier this season, this time needed 55 minutes to make a catch. He also drew a 31-yard interference penalty on Davis on a deep pattern to set up the Titans’ first score, which came on a 17-yard run by Chris Johnson.