Dolphins 24, Colts 20: Postgame takeaways & observations

It might go down as the day Ryan Tannehill really emerged.

Tannehill, who has been in the shadow of Andrew Luck and several other fellow quarterbacks from the 2012 draft class, outpointed Luck on Sunday. The result was a 24-20 Miami Dolphins win at Indianapolis that raised their record to 2-0.

It’s an impressive start for the Dolphins. It marks the first time they’ve began 2-0 since 2010. That was the only other time in team history they’ve won their first two games with both on the road.

Thank Tannehill for what happened Sunday. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 319 yards with a touchdown and had no interceptions.

Here’s a look at five observations from Sunday, starting with Tannehill:

1. Tannehill had a passing rating of 107.4. That was way better than Luck, who had a rating of 79.7 on a day in which he completed 25 of 43 passes for 321 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Tannehill was in control throughout the afternoon. He gave the Dolphins a 7-0 lead on an 18-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace early in the first quarter.

Tanehill threw a 34-yard pass to Wallace to the Indianapolis 1 late in the third quarter. That set up a 1-yard run by Charles Clay, which gave the Dolphins the lead for good at 24-20 with 4:40 left in the quarter.

The only negative on Tannehill’s day was having fumbled three times, losing one of them. Still, it could go down as a watershed game in Tannehill’s career.

2. Wallace won’t be complaining this week.

After catching just one pass in the opener at Cleveland, Wallace was visibly upset even though Miami won 23-10. The Dolphins, though, on Sunday made a concerted effort to get the ball to the receiver who signed a five-year, $60 million contract as a free agent last spring.

Wallace caught nine passes for 115 yards, both team-high totals. He was targeted a team-high 11 times.

Wallace’s presence also opened up things underneath for other receivers. Clay, a tight end and H-back, caught five passes for 109 yards and wide receiver Brian Hartline pulled in five for 68 yards.

3. Welcome back, running game.

Running back Lamar Miller was confident he and Miami’s ground game would be better this week. He was right.

After the Dolphins carried 23 times for 20 yards in their opener, the third-lowest total in team history, they gained 101 yards on 27 carries against the Colts. Miller led the way with 69 yards on 14 carries.

Backup Daniel Thomas didn’t have quite the jump that Miller did. After gaining eight yards on 14 carries against the Browns, Thomas had an OK but hardly impressive 30 yards in eight totes Sunday. At least Thomas recovered one of Tannehill’s three fumbles.

4. One of the most controversial moves by the Dolphins last spring was letting go of starting linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett in order to bring in younger players Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.

The moves looked brilliant Sunday.

Ellerbe led Miami with 14 tackles, and Wheeler was right behind with 12. But Wheeler actually had the team’s best game on defense.

Wheeler had a team-high eight solo tackles. He had one of the team’s three sacks, one of his two tackles for loss. And he had two passes defended.

5. It was an impressive win by the Dolphins. But don’t get too excited yet.

In 2010, when the Dolphins also started out 2-0 with a pair of wins on the road, they ended up finishing just 7-9 and missing the playoffs.

The problem that season was Miami couldn’t win at home. The Dolphins started out 4-0 on the road and finished 6-2. But they were a ghastly 1-7 at home.

The only other time in team history the Dolphins have started out 2-0, with both wins on the road, was in 1977. But while they went 10-4 that season, they didn’t make the playoffs.


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