Dolphins Solve The Patriots In Dramatic Fashion

Posted Dec 15, 2013

Tannehill outduels Brady in a thrilling 24-20 victory.

Somehow, someway the Miami Dolphins figured out how to do something against the New England Patriots that the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos couldn’t – prevent them from pulling out a last-minute win.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill outdueled future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady in a 24-20 victory at Sun Life Stadium, hitting Marcus Thigpen with a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:15 remaining. Cornerback Michael Thomas, who was signed off of San Francisco’s practice squad earlier in the week, intercepted Brady in the end zone with two seconds left on a 4th-and-5 to seal the win.

For the Miami players on offense, the coaching staff and the fans and the stands those last 75 seconds seemed like an eternity, especially since Brady was coming off yet another fourth quarter comeback. Wide receiver Mike Wallace doesn’t feel quite as young as he used to.

“Honestly, I might die two years earlier after that. I was so nervous it probably took two years off my life,” he said. “I had total confidence in our defense, but with that guy with the ball, you can never be sure. Our defense did a great job.”

The Dolphins improve to 8-6 on the season and have one five of their last seven games to stay alive for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC and for the AFC East crown. Tannehill completed 25-of-37 passes for 312 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and Wallace caught six passes for 105 yards and a 39-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half.

Cameron Wake sacked Brady once late and hit him a number of other times to throw him off his game a bit and Thomas led a group of reserve defensive backs including rookie cornerback Will Davis that were called into action due to injuries to starting cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll. It was the latest example of how the Dolphins have had to test the depth of their roster.

“Anybody that dresses for the game has to be ready,” Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “They have to be prepared. That’s part of our job as the coaching staff, is to get these guys ready to contribute if something happens. The coordinators can’t call three different types of games based on who’s in it. Guys have to step up and perform and execute like they’re professional football players.”

Unlike the first meeting between these two teams back on October 27th in Foxboro, Mass., when Miami jumped ahead 17-3 only to surrender 24 unanswered points, it was New England blowing the big lead. Brady put his team ahead 10-0 late in the first half before watching the Dolphins score unanswered points to take a 17-10 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 2-yard scoring pass to Daniel Thomas.

But like Brady and the Patriots have done all season starting with that comeback win over Miami, they flipped the scoreboard again by scoring the next 10 points to hold a 20-17 lead with just over four minutes left. Brady kept taking hit after hit from Cameron Wake and his defensive teammates, including linebacker Koa Misi on a blitz on that final drive.

“It was a wild fourth quarter,” Tannehill said. “I think we knew going into the second half it was going to come down to the fourth quarter. Guys stepped up and made big plays to go ahead, and they scored a touchdown again. We knew what we had to do. Guys around me just really stepped up and played big.”

One player on this team that definitely knows what it takes to make late playoff run is veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who was on last year’s Baltimore Ravens team that got hot at the right time and won the Super Bowl. He played at the University of Miami and now that he’s playing for his hometown team he is excited about that the prospects that lie ahead.

“This is coming together at a good time. Because you know December is when you want to be playing your best ball,” McKinnie said. “We can’t look too far ahead, this was a good step for the organization, and I was told you celebrate it for 24 hours and then you move on to the next. At the end of the day you have to take care of your business, because otherwise it doesn’t matter what other teams do.”

Miami travels to Buffalo next Sunday.

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