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Moore Comfortable In Relief Role

Posted Oct 29, 2012

Dolphins quarterback has learned to prepare as a starter.

Days like yesterday are par for the course for quarterback Matt Moore, which is why nobody on the Miami Dolphins sideline was surprised with his relief performance in the 30-9 rout of the New York Jets.

For the second time in as many years, Moore came off the bench when Miami’s starting quarterback was injured and infused life into the offense. The big difference was it took him a few weeks to get into the win column after coming in at San Diego after Chad Henne went out with a shoulder injury.

This time around you could literally see Moore rush over to rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill as he limped to the sideline following the sack by Jets linebacker Calvin Pace. The second Tannehill sat down in obvious pain Moore sped over to the bench to grab his helmet and started warming up, thinking back to the countless other times he was put in the same spot.

“The majority of my career, I’ve been a backup. Jake Delhomme told me my rookie year, you’ve got to prepare as the starter,” said Moore, who ended up completing 11-of-10 passes for 131 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. “That’s what he did early on his career and he got some playing time and ended up having a pretty good career. I just always remembered that coming from a guy like him. That’s just how I’ve gone about my business. I just prepare and know that the opportunity can come at any time. When you get in there, manage the game, don’t turn the ball over, but at the same time take your shots and make big plays. That’s just how I approach it.”

Moore’s approach fit in perfectly in what was a tight game at the time with Miami holding a 3-0 lead. He went three-and-out in his first series under center, admitting after the game that he needed to get a couple of plays under his built in order to find his rhythm.

But after Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll sacked Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and stripped the ball to force a fumble that was recovered by Paul Soliai, Moore got cooking. He completed back-to-back passes to Davone Bess for 11 yards and Brian Hartline for 17 yards following a Daniel Thomas run, and then watched Thomas finish off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Later in the first half he connected on a deep ball to Marlon Moore for 37 yards that set up a field goal.

“I’m happy for him. The guy’s a professional and football’s very important to him,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said in his day-after press conference. “He’s extremely well respected by the staff and the players in the locker room. I’m not surprised that he played well. I think it’s a credit to him and (assistant quarterbacks coach) Zac (Taylor) and (offensive coordinator) Mike (Sherman) to have him ready to go.”

The way Moore has played over his career is reminiscent of two of the legendary backups in Dolphins history – Earl Morrall and Don Strock. Of course Morrall took over for Hall-of-Famer Bob Griese in the sixth game of the undefeated 1972 season and helped Miami still perfect through the first half of the AFC Championship game at Pittsburgh. Griese replaced him in the second half, and Strock had some memorable games in relief of David Woodley and Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino.

Tannehill being the competitor that he is wanted to get back on the field and reunite with his teammates, but at the same time he couldn’t help but marvel at what Moore was able to do.

“It was great and I had a lot of fun just watching Matt do his thing,” said Tannehill, who was 2-of-5 for 18 yards when he came out. He came in, did a great job for us and threw the ball well.”

Center Mike Pouncey got to experience the Moore magic as a rookie last season when Moore led the Dolphins to a 6-3 finish down the stretch following an 0-7 start. He also sees how cool, calm and collected Moore is on the practice field so he was relaxed when Moore entered the game in a hostile environment.

Moore helped relax everyone in the huddle by flashing his trademark smile and saying nonchalantly, “Hey guys.” He just made them a laugh a little and said, “Hey, let’s go. Let’s get it going.” Pouncey knew everything was going to be fine.

“He’s just good, but you can tell because that’s Matty,” Pouncey said. “He was a starting quarterback in this league and he knows how to handle himself when he’s in the huddle. He did a good job.”

Moore’s preparation and knowledge of the offense also made it easier on Philbin, Sherman and Taylor when it came to calling plays. There wasn’t much need for drastic changes to the game plan.

“We’re fortunate in that regard,” Philbin said. “You go into a game and you build your plan off of obviously your players and what you’re going to see from the opposition and so we were able to pretty much stay with what we were going to do.”

That’s exactly how Moore likes it.

“I came in and my mindset at that point was alright, let’s manage this thing. Let’s move the ball. Don’t turn it over,” he said. “At that point, our defense was playing great. Our defense was doing a good job, so that was my mindset. Once I figured out, two or three drives into it, that I would be going the distance, I don’t know if anything changed. It was the same mentality. Let’s ride this thing out and make some plays and get the win.”

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