Dolphins Drop Tough 23-20 Loss To Colts

Posted Nov 4, 2012

Two first-round rookie QBs looked like veterans.

INDIANAPOLIS – Rarely do highly anticipated match-ups like today’s live up to their billing, but Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill did all he could to make sure this one did. He came up a field goal short in a tightly contested 23-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Tannehill went toe-to-toe with Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck in a battle between first-round draft picks for the ages. Even though he was still dealing with the lingering effects of the knee injury that knocked him out early in last week’s win at the New York Jets, the Texas native never showed any chinks in the armor in leading the Dolphins to a 17-13 lead at the half.

“We knew the game was in our hands coming out in the second half and we’d have to go out and score some points,” said Tannehill, who completed 22-of-38 passes for 290 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions with a 90.9 passer rating. “They were able to move the ball and as an offense we have to rise to that challenge. No matter what happens out on the field we have to be able to move the ball and score points. We took that upon ourselves and unfortunately we weren’t able to get it done.”

Luck ended up setting a new NFL rookie record for passing yards in a single game with 433, completing 30-of-48 passes for two touchdowns and a 105.6 passer rating. He was only sacked once and kept a lot of plays alive with his feet, but Tannehill, who was sacked twice, also was productive on the run.

Left guard Richie Incognito was one of a handful of offensive linemen that took responsibility for getting Tannehill hit too often and couldn’t help but praise Tannehill for his toughness and willingness to stand in there and deliver a throw knowing he was going to get hit. Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin came away impressed with both quarterbacks.

“I thought they both played well, no question about it, and both guys made a lot of throws and made plays,” Philbin said. “They played well, and we knew we had to disrupt Luck a little bit. We thought the discipline in our pass rush would have been better but I thought Ryan played as well. He didn’t make a lot of bade decisions out there and it didn’t look like he forced too many balls.”

Two of Tannehill’s favorite receivers benefited from his poise and accuracy – Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. They combined for 14 catches for 174 yards, with Hartline hauling in eight passes for 107 yards and Bess brining in six for 67. Second-year tight end Charles Clay caught the second touchdown pass of his career from 31 yards out in the second quarter to give Miami a 10-7 lead.

Bess and Hartline saw the same Tannehill they have grown accustomed to all season regardless of the situation. He was in total control at all times and gave them confidence that they were never out of the game.

“He showed heart and dedication,” Bess said. “He’s the ultimate competitor and that’s why he’s able to excel in these types of games. We came out firing like we wanted to and the tempo was a key factor, but they were doing the same thing. It was a toe-to-toe battle and on that last drive we were trying to execute and be efficient and win the game. We weren’t just trying to settle for a field goal.”

If anything, those plays that were designed to have Tannehill roll out away from the pressure and throw on the run managed to keep the Colts defense on their heels and prove something important to Tannehill. He likes to influence plays with his legs and being unsure of how he would feel out there during the week, those fears subsided during the game.

“I was able to move the pocket and when you have good rushers like they have being able t get outside and change their launch point is important,” Tannehill said. “So I think it adds something that really helps us.”

Miami’s defense found itself in the uncomfortable position of feeling helpless on third downs against a deadly accurate Luck. The Dolphins were among the best in the league in not allowing third-down conversions, but Luck converted 13-of-19 (68 percent), many of them from long distances.

Still, despite allowing 516 yards of total offense, the Dolphins forced two missed field goals by Adam Vinatieri (one that was tipped by rookie Olivier Vernon) and held the Colts to 23 points. Cornerback Nolan Carroll, who led all defenders with 10 tackles, was not happy with the outcome or the performance.

“They outplayed us on third down and that’s something we take pride in, is getting them off the field,” Carroll said. “Today they converted 13-of-19, so for them to convert that many was really disappointing. We expected them to go downfield because he can make every single throw and he’s pretty good. He’s very smart and intelligent, especially for being a rookie.”

Carroll’s own rookie quarterback displays those same qualities and in the end, he and the rest of this teammates feel good when he’s out there on the field. Center Mike Pouncey, summed it up best.

“They played better than us today and we’ve just got to play better but Ryan was Ryan out there for us,” he said. “We were up at halftime and we come in with a lead at the half we can’t give that up. He’s a very tough football player, he’s the leader of that huddle and we just kept believing the whole time that we were going to go out there and finish that game and win it. But we fell short and we have to regroup for Tennessee next week.”