The rookie weaved along the bench playfully jostled by a nudge to the ribs, slaps on the helmet and whacks on the back. It was standard stuff as NFL celebrations go, but unusual for Tannehill and Miami’s offense.
The Dolphins snapped their scoring slump with a ball-control attack, while the defense made three stops on fourth down and benefited from an odd penalty to help beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-3.
”It feels good to go out and execute the game plan, have some fun, have some long sustained drives and convert third downs,” Tannehill said. ”It was a lot of fun.”
While Tannehill had a season-high passer rating of 123.2, counterpart Chad Henne failed to reach the end zone playing in Miami for the first time since he departed as a Dolphins bust last offseason.
Tannehill went 22 for 28 for 220 yards and two scores with no interceptions, and he ran eight times for 52 yards. Reggie Bush rushed for 104 yards, including a 53-yarder, while Dan Carpenter kicked field goals of 53, 30 and 31 yards.
Miami (6-8), ranked near the bottom of the league in points and yards, had a season-high 26 first downs and won for only the second time in the past seven games.
”These are the types of games we need to have more of,” Bush said. ”We dominated a team we were supposed to beat.”
The Jaguars (2-12) only helped their chances of getting the No. 1 draft pick next April.
”We were not as disciplined as we have been – or we will be,” coach Mike Mularkey said. ”Every time we take a step forward, we take two steps back. I take total blame for that.”
Henne threw for 221 yards with no turnovers, but Jacksonville had the ball for just 14 minutes in the final three periods. The Dolphins’ first four possessions of the second half resulted in clock-eating drives of 76, 60, 64 and 85 yards.
With the score tied, an illegal-substitution penalty cost Jacksonville a touchdown in the second quarter.
Henne threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Justin Blackmon, but the play was negated because Guy Whimper had entered the game as a third tackle – as he had done five times earlier – without reporting as an eligible receiver.
Whimper said he did report, but the officials apparently failed to understand him.
”He reported to the offense a hundred times this year, and 400 times in practice,” Mularkey said.
”Today, for some reason, I was told he didn’t report. He said he reported, but the official has to confirm it.”
Instead of the score, the Jaguars retreated to their 25 and eventually lost possession when Henne was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 sneak.
”That turned the whole game around,” Miami linebacker Karlos Dansby said.
Jacksonville had another touchdown taken off the board in the final two minutes. Cecil Shorts’ 4-yard scoring reception was instead ruled incomplete when a replay review determined he failed to come down in bounds.
On the next play, Henne threw incomplete on fourth down.
”It was one of those days where it was tough,” Henne said. ”There are some plays out there I wish I could have back.”
The stadium was only half full, a reflection of the matchup between two teams out of the playoff race, and just a few thousand fans remained to applaud the home team as the clock ran out.
The Dolphins’ first touchdown came when they converted three third downs in a 14-play, 89-yard drive that ended with Tannehill’s 4-yard scoring pass to fullback Jorvorski Lane. Tannehill went 6 for 6 on the drive.
Leading 10-3, the Dolphins tried a fake field goal at the Jacksonville 5, but holder Brandon Fields’ pass fell incomplete. Miami quickly forced a punt, and Bush’s long run set up another field-goal situation. This time, Carpenter kicked a 30-yarder.
Dansby stopped Henne on fourth down at the Miami 11, and Jason Trusnik tackled Montell Owens for no gain on fourth and 1 at the 15 early in the fourth quarter.
”Those plays were momentum-gainers,” Dansby said. ”They took chances. We had to step up and get them off the field.”
The Dolphins sewed up the victory with an 85-yard drive that took nine minutes of the fourth quarter and ended with Tannehill’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano.
NOTES: Miami CB Nolan Carroll (left knee) and TE Charles Clay (right knee) were hurt in the second quarter. … The 1972 Dolphins, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their perfect season, were honored at halftime. … Miami’s Brian Hartline surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the first time. … Blackmon had six catches to increase his season total to 51, the most by a Jaguars rookie.
Source: Associated Press