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Andy Cohen: Amid The Hurt, There Is Much To Build On

Posted Sep 30, 2012

There are no moral victories in the NFL, but there is a lot to take away from Arizona.

There is no such thing as moral victories in this league. The Dolphins didn’t beat Arizona on Sunday and it is something the coaches and players must find a way to live with. It hurts to lose in overtime. It hurts bad. It hurts because the Dolphins deserved to win and so many players stepped up with mind-numbing performances.

But take a minute and look at the bigger picture. Look at the fact that the Dolphins went to Arizona and played remarkably well in so many areas against an undefeated team that had won seven in a row at home and 10 of 12 overall. Look at the way the Dolphins dominated most of the game on both sides of the ball.

Look at what Ryan Tannehill did. And what Brian Hartline did. And Cameron Wake. And Sean Smith. And so many others. Look at the fact that the final script could have so easily been written differently. If a fourth down pass had fallen incomplete. If Tannehill just had a little more time to throw the ball on an overtime play that resulted in an interception. If Dan Carpenter had made a long field goal. If one of about a dozen things had happened, the Dolphins walk away with a statement victory.

Yes, there are no moral victories. But, if possible, we learned more about the Dolphins Sunday in defeat than we certainly did in a lopsided victory over the Raiders.

We learned that Tannehill is the real deal, that as soon as he gains more experience, as he matures and faces different situations, that he is going to take another quantum leap. But look what he did at Arizona. Look how crisp his passes were. Look at the way he maneuvered in the pocket. He only threw for more yards than any rookie quarterback in team history. Think about that.

We may not know the upside yet on Ryan Tannehill, but we do know he wasn’t another wasted draft pick. The kid has everything it takes. It’s going to be fun to watch him grow up.

We learned that the Dolphins may have a No. 1 receiver after all in Brian Hartline, who gained more yards on Sunday than any Dolphins receiver has ever gained. His 80-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter could have/should have been the game-winner. But there were so many other memorable moments from Hartline on this breakout day. He may not be the biggest. He may not be the fastest. He may not be first on your fantasy team. But how much more does he have to do to prove he can play?

We learned that Cameron Wake, held without a sack in the first three games, is back to his old impressive form. He had three sacks in the first half and four by the time the game was over. He may even be credited with another half a sack when the tapes are evaluated. Wake led a pass rush that produced eight sacks against the Cardinals. His performance against the Cardinals was dominating and so impressive.

We learned that Sean Smith can be the big-play corner that we expected when he was drafted in the second round out of Utah. Two huge interceptions in this game only underlined that. His second interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter was as nice a pick as you’ll see.

Want another impressive moment?

How about Joe Philbin going for it on fourth-and-goal from the one late in the first half. Settle for a field goal? Not a chance. Joe Philbin wants touchdowns and he came up with the right call, an up the gut handoff to Javorski Lane. This play said so much. About the confidence Philbin has in his offense. About his aggressive mindset. About the potential of these Dolphins.

So many memorable moments. So many things to build on. Yes, the Dolphins may be sitting here at 1-3 right. But the future is a lot brighter today than it was yesterday.
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