They say you don't start a rookie QB, and if you're stupid enough or desperate enough to ignore that adage, then you better protect him and give him one reliable pass catcher, preferably a tight end. And...under no circumstances—ever, should you ask to win the game for you. Ever!
Miami's not the only team ignoring that sage advice, and today shows you just why they should. Statistically, Tannehill wasn't all that impressive, if you judge him by his 21 of 29 for 185 yards day, with two touchdowns. And if you drag out the ole game manager yardstick, it still looks like a weak to ho-hum performance. Statistics like 4 for 12 on third down, 18 rushes for 19 yards for a 1.1 average per run. 26:37 minutes of possession. Nothing to walk off the field and be too proud of.
If you didn't watch the game and just read the statistics, you'd have thought Miami would have lost, maybe by a lopsided score—and you would be wrong. You'd probably be wondering if a rookie QB was more of a burden then the team could handle. And you would be wrong. Tannehill misfired a couple of times, but at no point did he throw anything even close to interception. His game plan was reduced to take a licking while waiting for his chances, because the offensive line lost the line of scrimmage battle early and never got it back. Tannehill got exactly three shots in this game, and converted on two. And Miami won.
It's one of those—I don't understand—because the statistics all say it was the poor to okay performance he's turned in all year. For the year he's thrown 4 TD's to 6INT's with a 71.54 QB rating. You have to watch his games and compare them to the other QB's, to understand the phenomenon, and why Miami fans everywhere are estatic. The rookie is running the offense, like Peyton Manning. Yes, I dare to go there. They are two different QB's, and Peyton has a lot more freedom, because he's been there and done that, but Ryan looks like he might get close in hurry. He made no bad decisions in this game, and he took what he could get, patiently waiting. He didn't press, like a certain other QB, who plays in our division. He didn't intentionally ground a ball twice in a close game, eventually losing, like another QB in our division. (We won't mention the 4th QB, because he plays up north in a wasteland, we Phin fans hope continues to remain that way.)
No, he took what he could get, and waited for patiently for the chance. No pressing the ball into triple coverage on a third and eight, that he had originally converted, but was called back for holding not once but twice, putting the offense in a dire second and sixteen situation. Nope, two dink and dunks and it was forth and three. The punt team comes out. What you say? This is the NFL, you have to convert those if you want to win. Well not in this game. In this game, field position mattered.
This game was won in the red zone, because between the thirty yard lines, the Rams owned Miami. They seemed to move at will, but once they got inside the twenty, disaster struck continuously. You could call it bad luck, self implosion, problems adapting to the weather, whatever, but the Rams seemed to think crossing the goaline line was akin to 'paying for bounties. Maybe they were so use to winning on the leg of their rookie kicker, known as Legatron, they didn't want jinx him. Even the one TD they did score was questionable, because it was a close call whether Bradford actually stuck the ball in with Dansby trying to bend him like a coat-hanger.
Tannehill was asked to win this game and it wasn't by putting on an aerial display like in the Cardinal game a few weeks back. Coach Philbin is smarter than that, even in this platinum age of passing. You win by the pass , but you can die by the pass, especially—when your WR's aren't exactly know for being clutch.
Miami's rookie Head Coach asked his rookie QB to win the game using his head—something you never ask a rookie QB to do, but he did because he had to. Miami might have had the best front seven in football coming into this game, but Philbin had seen enough in the day, he didn't want the game in their hands at the end. He put it in Ryan's hands and asked to him to win it, and the Rookie did. Miami was clinging to a three point lead, with five minutes and some change on the board. They didn't need to score to put it away, they just needed to run some time off the clock, and give the ball back to the Rams in bad field position.
Tannehill did well, considering the Phins didn't score on the drive. He completed two passes on the drive when he had to, and ran once, making sure he stayed in bounds to keep the clock running. He produced when his veteran running back couldn't convert two third and one's. Philbin liked what he saw so much, he opted to fake a punt on fourth and inches, just to keep the ball in Tannehill's hands.
The Result? The Rams got the ball on their three yard line with a buck forty five remaining. They drove to Miami's thirty, before being sacked back far enough, their last chance was a 66yrd field goal aimed at the same set of goal posts, their kicker had missed twice from before. You knew at the moment it was over, and I seriously doubt many fans held their breath on whether he'd make it or not, because that would be a NFL record, and the NFL gods weren't being particularly kind to either team on this day. He missed, rewarding Philbin in his faith in Tannehill, and Miami trots into the bye at 3-3.
My game ball goes to Ryan Tannehill for using his brain instead of of his arm.
A wonderful victory against a team that we didn't match up with very well. A team that thoroughly dominated the lines today and still came up short.