After reading over some lovely comments on Ramblin’ Fans quick thoughts after the game, it only seems appropriate to breakdown the performance of both quarterbacks in the game. A majority of the discussion seemed to center around the suggestion that Ryan Tannehill’s was not “impressive” throwing the football or that his performance did not “scream progressing.” It may be hard to take the play of a young quarterback at face value, especially in the midst of a hard fought win after losing so many close games throughout the season. The Miami Dolphins could easily be 5-1 this season had they converted late in the game against the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals, and likely have moved themselves into position for a run at winning the AFC East after pulling out two victories heading into the Bye Week. However, it was not the performance of Tannehill that pushed the Miami Dolphins over the top of the Rams, but rather a consolidated effort by the team as a whole to capitalize on missed field goals, turnovers, and costly penalties which resulted in excellent field position for the offense.
St. Louis Rams: 6 plays, 50 yards 2:35 – Field Goal 3-0
Starting off the game with the ball, the St. Louis Rams marched from their own 20 all the way to the Miami 30 yard line before settling for a field goal. Bradford did very little in the opening drive, allowing Daryl Richardson and Steven Jackson to pick up 54 yards on the ground. On 3rd and 5 on the Miami 26, Bradford was thrown to the ground by Cameron Wake who beat Barry Richardson off the edge, forcing a Zuerlein 48 yard field goal that put the Rams up 3-0 at the 12:25 mark in the first.
St. Louis Rams: 8 plays, 78 yards 3:38 – Field Goal 6-0
Sam Bradford went 6 of 8 passing for 81 yards on this huge drive that started from the STL 8, after the first of three Miami Dolphin punts in the 1st Quarter. After converting on a pivotal 3rd and 5 deep in St. Louis territory, Bradford bombed a 65 pass to Chris Givens, setting the Rams up in field goal position. The Miami defense stalled the drive with impressive red zone defense, forcing two incompletions and stuffing Daryl Richardson in the backfield for a 3 yard loss. Greg Zuerlein got called to the field again, hitting his second field goal from 32 yards.
Miami Dolphins: 6 plays, 58 yards 3:07 – Touchdown 6-7
After crazy wind forced Greg Zuerlein wide left on a 52 yard field goal attempt, Tannehill started off his second drive of the second half from the Miami 42 yard line. The Dolphins began the drive by allowing a 7 yard sack from Jo-Lonn Dunbar, but Tannehill completed his next three passes, letting his wide receivers do most of the work in converting two first downs to the STL 34. The stat line reads,
|2nd and 17 at MIA 35||R.Tannehill pass short left to A.Fasano ran ob at MIA 48 for 13 yards [M.Brockers].|
|3rd and 4 at MIA 48||R.Tannehill pass short left to D.Bess pushed ob at SL 46 for 6 yards (C.Finnegan).|
|1st and 10 at STL 46||R.Tannehill pass short right to M.Moore to SL 34 for 12 yards (J.Jenkins).|
After a 5 yard defensive offsides penalty on Kellen Heard and a Reggie Bush rush for no yards, Janoris Jenkins was caught staring in the backfield while Marlon Moore glided uncovered down the field with no help over top from the St. Louis secondary. Tannehill tossed the ball to Moore, putting the Dolphins up with 5:16 left before halftime.
Miami Dolphins: 4 plays, 0 yards 0:57 – Field Goal 6-10
During the extra point on the Moore touchdown reception, Craig Dahl was called for illegal use of the hand, resulting in the Dan Carpenter kicking off from the 40 yard line. Instead of booming the easy touchback, they squibbed the ball down the center of the field, hoping to get a minimal return from Janoris Jenkins. Instead, fullback Brit Miller decided to scoop up the return, bread-basketing the ball on way to a fumble, which was recovered by the Dolphins at the STL 25.
With amazing starting field position for the second drive in a row, Tannehill started the drive with an attempted short pass to Davone Bess which fell incomplete. The next two plays netted zero yards, after a stuffed rushing attempt by Reggie Bush and another incomplete short pass intended for the tight end. Luckily, the team started off the drive in field goal range, allowing Carpenter to boot an 42 yarder to push the Dolphins ahead by 4 points before halftime.
Miami Dolphins: 10 plays, 62 yards, 5:20 – Touchdown 6-17
Marcus Thigpen helped continue the trend of good starting field position for the Dolphins, returning Greg Zuerlein’s 71 yard kickoff 44 yards to the MIA 38. This would be Tannehill’s most impressive, and last, scoring drive of the game. He went 7 of 8 passing for 53 yards. He was able to convert two first downs on the long drive, one from a pass interference call on Bradley Fletcher and the other on a quick drop to Reggie Bush in the middle, which he ran for 14 yards to the STL 1. The Dolphins showed run on the next play, but ended up dumping the ball over the blitzing secondary for a 1 yard touchdown to Anthony Fasano.
On the drive 5 out of the 7 completions on this touchdown drive were to either Reggie Bush or Jorvorskie Lane, the two running backs, which accounted for 44 yards. All of the passes were considered ”short passes” indicating that the attempt was under 15 yards. In actuality, there was not a pass caught for over 7 yards on the drive before gaining yards after the carry. He was unable to find any player with a “receiver” designation in their title, throwing incompletions to both Bess and Hartline, who did not have a reception in the game (although his attempt on this drive was called for pass interference).
St. Louis Rams: 11 plays, 62 yards 5:33 – Touchdown
After shutting out the Dolphins for the remainder of the half, Bradford and the St. Louis Rams were trialing by two scores with 14:30 left in the fourth quarter. Bradford utilized a balanced rushing attack and short to intermediate passing game to start the Rams from the STL 38, their best starting field position of the game. He went 5 of 6 passing for 47 yards. Bradford helped the team earn 3 first downs on the long drive, converting twice on 4th down, and rushing 2 times for 5 yards, including the touchdown to pull the Rams within 5 points of the ‘Fins.
The run was extremely tough, holding a Dolphins linebacker up by his neck while stretching the ball across the plane. On the next play, the Rams needed to convert a 2-point conversion to get within a field goal of tying the game. Bradford ran a naked bootleg, typically termed a waggle, to the right side of the field, jousting with the Miami secondary before throwing a rope to Steven Jackson on the sideline for the conversion.