This game historically will go down as a failure because the Dolphins still deliver one great moment that indelibly is followed by a terrible one.
Yes, it was great the Dolphins traveled across country and had a 13-0 halftime lead on the undefeated Cardinals. But they out-gained Arizona 158-36, Tannehill had a 105.5 rating at the time and Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb’s was 48.4 in that first half and that demanded a much more commanding advantage.
It was great that Dan Carpenter booted two field goals in the second quarter — from 32 and 27 yards — to give the impression he was over last week’s missed game-winner.
But then the kicker failed on a 51-yarder that would have given Miami a 16-0 lead early in the third quarter. That miss gave the Cardinals a lift and the crowd hope.
“I hit it well,” Carpenter said. “There was plenty of room for it to move a little left but it just stayed straight and I missed it right.”
Not. Good. Enough.
The Miami defense, meanwhile, pitched that impressive first-half shutout. The unit at times made Kolb look overmatched in slamming him to the ground time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time again.
And yes, the unit seemed to save the day when Sean Smith intercepted a pass in the end zone after Arizona had a first-and-goal situation at the Miami 3-yard line.
But that unit also gave away the game in crunch time. The Dolphins led 21-14 and needed to make one play on fourth-and-10 from their own 15-yard line with 29 seconds to play.
But Kolb threw a tying touchdown pass to Andre Roberts to send the game to overtime.
The offensive line also had a fine day. And a terrible day. Miami’s linemen allowed Tannehill enough time to connect on 26 of his 41 attempts. But that very line was at times a mess up the middle, letting Arizona’s inside linebackers blitz with such impunity, it was as if the guys in red were part of the Miami backfield.
Tannehill, by the way, is fun to watch. His bomb to Hartline reminded of the days when the Dolphins actually dominated the air with their passes.
That suggests something good is being built. It suggests something good is coming as he learns and develops.
But like the rest of the team, Tannehill isn’t quite there. And that’s why he got away with a handful of poor throws that might have been intercepted and two that were picked off — including the one in overtime that set up the Cardinals for their victory.
So where does that leave us?
This game was, as Karlos Dansby, “disappointing and discouraging” now. But it was also as a certain sign that the future is bright.