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Dolphins Come Up Short In 27-13 To Niners

Posted Dec 9, 2012

Courageous effort was not enough against tough Niners team.

SAN FRANCISCO – Through one half of football the Miami Dolphins played the San Francisco 49ers evenly and had a chance to pull of the upset. But San Francisco capitalized on one critical error and rode its defense the rest of the way to a 27-13 victory.

Miami fell to 5-8 on the season with two home games on the horizon and will try to regroup against the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. If there was one thing Head Coach Joe Philbin and his staff did learn it’s that the game doesn’t appear to be too big for rookie tackle Jonathan Martin.

The second-round draft pick out of Stanford made his first career start at left tackle against arguably the best defensive front in the NFL, led by Aldon Smith. At the end of the day the record will show that Smith registered two sacks of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill to reach 19.5 on the season, but the second one was real late when the Dolphins were in obvious passing situations, and right tackle Nate Garner also held his own against Justin Smith.

“I think they did a great job and switching sides for Jonathan and Nate coming in was a tough job,” said Tannehill, who finished 17-of-33 for 153 yards and one touchdown. “On the whole they did a good job against that defensive line throughout the game and gave me time and a good pocket to step up into.”

Martin admitted at the beginning he felt his adrenaline kick in and needed some time to adjust to Smith’s speed and pass rushing moves, but once he settled down he got himself into good position quickly at the snap. He managed to help create a strong pocket for Tannehill to complete some deep passes and really thought he and the rest of the offense would come through in the end.

Tannehill engineered a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 20-13, capping it off with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano in the back left corner of the end zone. Fasano made a one-handed catch for the score.

When Miami’s defense forced a three-and-out and gave the offense the ball back at the Miami 38, players on both sides of the ball felt confident that the game would be tied. Martin felt good on the sideline and in the huddle.

“There was no question we were confident in ourselves as an offense and everyone in the huddle thought we were going to go down and score and tie it up,” Martin said. “We thought we’d have a chance to win late or in overtime but we just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch and against such a good time that runs the ball so well and a defense that really holds up in the red zone, you can’t make those mistakes. I thought it was a learning experience for me going against Smith because I like challenges like that, but I just wish we could have done a little more to come away with the win.”

Center Mike Pouncey also came up with some key blocks, especially in the running game when he got off the ball and took out a linebacker during one of Reggie Bush’s sweeps. He had all the faith in the world in Martin and Garner to pick up where the line left off before losing Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long to a triceps injury.

Bush finished with 65 yards on 14 carries and Tannehill added 25 more on three carries, including a 20-yard scramble. Davone Bess caught five passes for 50 yards and Brian Hartline added five more for 38 yards. Their production did not surprise Pouncey.

“We moved the ball all game and I felt like we played physical up front,” Pouncey said. “But we’ve got to start playing better in the fourth quarter and pick up our defense. I thought Jonathan and Nate did an excellent job. They played well all game because that’s a great defense and I think Jon and Nate stepped up and played a great game.”

Philbin was comfortable with the offensive and defensive strategies employed by his team and with the team down by just a field goal at the half, he felt good about their chances. As pleased as he was with the play of the likes of Martin and Wake, the ultimate goal was not achieved at the end.

“It’s the type of game we envisioned,” Philbin said. “We told the team all week that I anticipated that we would be in a position to win the game in the fourth quarter. We told them we had to play a clean game because this is a good football team and we had to execute well. We didn’t make the plays in the fourth quarter and they did and they deserved to win.”
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