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Tannehill Flourishes With His Arm And His Legs

Posted Dec 16, 2012

Rookie quarterback puts together complete performance.

What a difference not having a knee brace hindering him made for Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the second half of today’s 24-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

For the first time since injuring the knee on October 28th at the New York Jets, Tannehill removed the protective brace before leaving the locker room for the start of the third quarter. Up to that point he had run the ball three times for nine yards and completed 10-of-14 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.

Added mobility seemed to give Tannehill a new burst as he rushed for 43 yards on five carries and completed 12-of-14 passes for 141 passes and a touchdown over the final 30 minutes. By game’s end the 2012 first-round draft pick had 52 rushing yards on eight carries and was 22-of-28 for 220 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His final passer rating was an impressive 123.2 and his 78.6 completion percentage is the second highest by a rookie behind Hall-of-Famer Bob Griese’s 81.0 on October 22nd, 1967 against the New York Jets.

“I wore (the brace) in the first half, I slid and it got caught in the ground and bent so I took it off at halftime,” Tannehill said. “It’s there for a reason. It’s preventative in case you get rolled up on but definitely it felt good to move around a little bit without it. I think the entire receiving corps did a good job, the offensive line was giving me good protection and I was able to step up and hit some later throws going through my progressions and hitting the third read sometimes.”

Before he got to show off his speed and newfound freedom with his legs with a 30-yard scamper late in the third quarter, Tannehill got wide receiver Brian Hartline got involved in the game with a 37-yard pass on the first play of the second half. The offense got all the way down to the Jacksonville 5 on that drive but Brandon Fields’ pass on a fake field goal for tight end Anthony Fasano was off the mark.

Two possessions later, after Dan Carpenter already had stretched the lead to 13-3 with a 30-yard field goal, Tannehill found Hartline for another 17 yards and then sprinted up the middle for his longest run of the season. That eventually set up Carpenter’s third field goal of the day from 31 yards out and continued the young quarterback’s solid day.

“He said he was feeling pretty good,” said Hartline, who surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career with five catches for 77 yards. “I don’t think he cares but he said something along the lines of, ‘Wow, without this brace I feel like a Clydesdale out here. I feel like I’m moving pretty good. I said, ‘a Clydesdale usually doesn’t move very good.’ Regardless, he was feeling good and it showed and that’s the athletic ability he has.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin came away impressed with the play of his young quarterback in all phases of the game. He watched Tannehill take an offense that only mustered one play of more than 15 yards complete seven of that distance or more in the second half.

But more than just the raw numbers and the displays of his running skills, Tannehill did not turn the ball over and made some smart throws all afternoon. That truly stood out to Philbin.

“I thought he played well. He took care of the football,” Philbin said. “When we watch the tape, we’ll have to look closer. When you’re evaluating quarterbacks you don’t want to see a lot of shots where he’s throwing the ball where they’ve got three guys and we have one. My guess is there’s not going to be a lot of those pictures when we watch the tape. I thought his accuracy was good today, too.”

Typical of what he has done all season, Tannehill deflected the praise being thrown in his direction and acknowledged the play of his teammates on both sides of the ball. That’s what made his all-around performance even more complete.

“It was fun and I think we executed the game plan on offense,” Tannehill said. “I wish we would have put up more points when we got down in the red zone and we’ve got to do a better job there. But we moved the ball consistently the entire game and I think across the board we did a good job.”
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