Tannehill starts strong but can't finish as Dolphins squander 10-point lead

Thomas J. Russo for USA Today

Dolphins lose fifth straight on road as Colts rally from 10-point deficit in fourth quarter to win 27-24 on final play.

Ryan Tannehill got off to an inspiring start in his return from a five-game injury absence, leading the Dolphins to a touchdown on an opening possession for the first time in forever and a day. Or so it seemed.

But Tannehill and a defense that intercepted Andrew Luck twice lacked a finishing touch, allowing the Colts to rally from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 27-24 victory at Indianapolis.

The Dolphins’ fifth consecutive loss on the road dropped them to 5-6 and dealt a serious blow to their flagging playoff hopes.

Adam Vinatieri’s 32-yard field goal as time expired sent the Colts (6-5) to their fifth consecutive win.

Luck avoided a sack and connected on a 34-yard pass to Chester Rogers to set up the winning kick. Akeem Spence and Andre Branch had a shot at Luck but couldn’t get him down.

The Dolphins had a 10-point lead with 13:36 remaining after Kenyan Drake scored on a 14-yard run.

Leading 24-17 with 8:26 remaining, the Dolphins went three-and-out when Tannehill misfired on two passes and Drake lost five yards and was injured in the process (left arm).

It took Luck seven plays to lead the Colts 89 yards, tossing his third touchdown of the game on a 12-pass to Eric Ebron, the tight end’s second of the day.

Miami failed to record a first down on its final two possessions.

The Dolphins were the last NFL team to register points on an initial drive this season.

Drake’s 33-yard dash to the end zone off a short screen from Tannehill was the Dolphins’ first touchdown on an opening possession in 21 games. They hadn’t scored a point on a first possession in the previous 13 games.

The early Miami lead lasted less than three minutes as the Colts needed only five plays to go 75 yards, with Luck making it look easy on a 14-yard TF toss to Ebron.

There was a bizarre sequence in the final minute of the half when the teams traded turnovers on three consecutive plays – two interceptions of Andrew Luck by Xavien Howard sandwiched around Dolphins rookie Mike Gesicki fumbling after catching a pass over the middle.

The back-and-forth gambit followed immediately after Leonte Carroo outleaped Colts cornerback Pierre Desir and continued on for a 74-yard touchdown reception from Tannehill to make it 14-14.

That stopped a run of four consecutive possessions resulting in punts for Miami.

The Colts had taken the lead on a long drive aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty call on Kiko Alonso, who landed on a sliding Luck at the end of a scramble. Instead of forcing the Colts to punt, they continued on to Luck’s second touchdown pass of the day.

The Dolphins had the statistical edge in the first half, including a 3-1 advantage in takeaways. They hurt themselves with four penalties.

But Alonso later blocked a punt and in the fourth quarter made a key tackle for loss that forced the Colts to settle for a field goal.

They got to the red zone after the blocked punt but couldn’t punch it in, though Jason Sanders gave them a 17-14 lead on a 29-yard field goal.

Miami retained the lead after Cameron Wake ended Luck’s streak of five games without a sack, forcing a fumble. The Colts retained possession, but Vinatieri miss-hit a 48-yard field goal attempt.

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I've been behind this Coaching staff until THIS game. Gase thinks it's impossible to complete a 3rd and 10 pass. What makes him think that? Teams do it against Miami all the time. Including THIS GAME where Luck broke our back on that late 3 and 10 pass way down the field. And he runs EVERY TIME now on 3rd and 10, so the opposition knows it's coming and they blow up the play for a LOSS. So the message is, when you're in a tough situation, just GIVE UP. And that translates right into the players play. Did ya'll see that 1 yard touchdown to the Colts TE? The TE falls down. So what does Rae McMillen do? Stay on his man? No. He GIVES UP and starts wandering around. So when the TE stands back up, it's an easy TD. How about Jerome Baker? We have the Colts pinned WAY BACK. So Luck throws a pass out in the flat for what should have been a short gain. So, FOR ONCE Alonzo keeps his body in front of the man, giving the rest of the TEAM plenty of time to help out. All the guy needed was a shove out of bounds. Where's Baker? He gave up on the play. So the guy tip toes around Alonzo and breaks out for a 25 yard gain. I could go on all day. What was going on in the first half with the Cornerback lined up tight on their receiver and then pealing off before the snap going G-d knows where. So the receiver is wide open, Luck makes an easy throw and they pick up 10 yards. I could go on all day. The COACHES bear a lot of responsibility for yet ANOTHER abortion of a blown up lead. Drives of 47 seconds, 14 seconds and 1:14 in the 4th quarter on a day when Gore is running the hell out of the ball. We finally ran it down there at the 5 when they KNEW we would run it. Same on the "14 second drive. We throw twice when we should have run it and then ran it on 3rd and 10 when we should have passed it. It's beyond belief.


Just call it as it is--Coaches didn't play to win--they played to protect a lead! Gase's play calling in second half was NOT good. I don't think he can call plays effectively under pressure. He mismanaged the clock at the end. I don't think the Patriots play the last 3 minutes like Gase did. Spread out the offense and go. You have four downs to convert. Play to win! The game was in hand, but we can't finish! You had to win that game! We punted the win literally! You have success when you throw the ball down the field. It's probably good we lose out and dump RT and maybe even Gase. Take the 13M cap savings and end that marriage with this mediocre QB! Get a vet QB for 8-10M (Brissett or Bridewater). SIgn a stud free agent MLB-can't stand R McMillan-he can't fill the right holes and stop the run! Let Quinn, Wake and Branch go. Harris is a total bust-great draft pick! Sign 1-2 DE's and a CB. Draft QB, OT or OG-depends if you can sign James for his worth-5M or less, DT, DE, CB, tall WR. Get rid of Parker, Larsen. Get a Defensive Coordinator who can design an effective scheme. Every blitz is obvious and someone is wide open in the flat for a 20-25 yard gain. This team is painful to watch--NOT a good product for its fans. Team has sucked for a long time and there is not much hope in the future with whatever direction they are planning. Its hard being a Dolphin fan--thanks management! Can't win in this league without a great QB--go find one!