Tannehill, Dolphins can make statement with win
DAVIE, Fla. — Both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III reached the playoffs in their rookie campaigns.
Ryan Tannehill, the third quarterback taken in the 2012 NFL Draft behind that pair, faces his biggest game since Miami selected him eighth overall.
The Dolphins (8-7) host the rival Jets (7-8) at 1 p.m. Sunday with a postseason berth on the line.
”Obviously we know it’s a big game and we realize the implications of this game, we’re not stupid,” Tannehill said. ”We have to approach it 1-0 because if we don’t win this game then there’s nothing else, or no chance of anything else. We’re approaching this game 100 percent focused on the task at hand. We know that it’s a talented Jets team that can make big plays (that) is coming to town and we’ll have to be ready to play.”
Whether Tannehill bounces back from last weekend’s 19-0 loss at Buffalo will decide if the Dolphins get to see their first postseason action since 2008.
Tannehill went 10-of-27 with 82 yards (second-lowest in career) and a 45.6 rating (third-worst in his career). The Bills sacked Tannehill a season-high seven times, including one in the fourth quarter that temporarily knocked him out of the game with a knee injury.
Miami ran just three times in the second half — 12 carries for 14 yards overall. The Dolphins collected 103 total yards, which was the third-lowest output in the franchise’s 48-year history.
”You don’t want to ever have that feeling again in the locker room that we had, the experience of not crossing the 35-yard line and not putting points on the board,” offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. ”I’m not sure if I’ve ever had that before, and I certainly don’t want to have that again.
”(Tannehill) wanted to continue to play and so we elected to put him back in again. He was itching to go and we had to be the voice of reason but there was still a chance based on our history in the two-minute offense and what we’ve been able to do in the past. There was a chance for us to win so we allowed him to go back into the game. He’s a tough kid, it doesn’t surprise me that he wanted back in and an opportunity to lead his team.”
With one game remaining, Tannehill has that chance again.
His 3,709 passing yards are already 10th in team history for single season — the most by any quarterback other than Dan Marino. His five games with 300 yards or more passing is the most of any Miami quarterback other than Marino.
Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline have made a productive 1-2 punch for Tannehill.
Wallace has 68 receptions — the second-most in his career — trailing the 72 he had in 2011 with the Steelers. Hartline tied his career mark with 74 receptions last week. He needs just 22 yards for his second consecutive 1,000-yard season, becoming the fourth Miami wideout to do so.
”I think they’ve both made great contributions to the offense,” coach Joe Philbin said. ”I think they’ve been consistent throughout the course of the year. I like what they’ve done. They do different things, complement their skills with one another.”
Even with his numbers against the Bills, Tannehill has an impressive 92.1 passer rating in December with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. The second-year NFL player is arguably playing his best football.
It all began on Dec. 1 in a 23-3 win over the Jets when he achieved a 94.2 rating by going 28-for-43 with 331 yards (second-highest of career), two touchdowns and one interception.
The week before the nightmare in Buffalo, Tannehill had 312 passing yards and three touchdowns en route to a 120.6 rating against AFC East champion New England.
”I don’t know if he can grow more than he did against us,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. ”He looked like Dan Marino back there. Statistically and everything else. … Clearly the young man has got a lot of ability and a lot of weapons to throw to.”