Ryan Tannehill was en fuego (I can say it, I’m Cuban) in the first quarter – connecting on 8 of 10 passes. That was encouraging because his accuracy had been spotty the past couple of weeks. And he continued to show good form the rest of the day, particularly on throwing slants and the deep pass. That 80-yard bomb to Brian Hartline hearkened to a long-ago day when Miami was a major passing threat. But with all that good came the rushed throws that eventually were plucked out of the air by the Cardinals. The final one in overtime eventually set up Arizona for the win. So was it a great day? No. But was it encouraging from a rookie still learning? Absolutely. GRADE: C-plus.
Reggie Bush pushed himself to play and showed no real signs of being hampered by last week’s left knee injury, but he still couldn’t make his own holes. The Arizona front run blitzed, pass blitzed and did so right up the gut, shutting down the Dolphins ability to run between the tackles. Interestingly, Bush didn’t pop many of his runs outside. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas both got four carries apiece but they also couldn’t find any daylight and couldn’t create any of their own. GRADE: D.
Brian Hartline showed his toughness on the in-cuts and showed his speed on the deep routes. It was a stellar day and not just because he broke the individual game record for most yards (253) by a Miami receiver. Davone Bess had a great day, also. He was at his ankle-breaking best and that meant the Arizona corners had to wait for help to arrive to get him on the ground. Legedu Naanee caught his first pass of the season. That’s good. But he fumbled it. Bad. But he made a TD saving tackle on the fumble return. Good. Advice: Hold on to the ball and save yourself the heartache. GRADE: A.
The Cardinals attacked the middle of the Miami line, shooting right through the A-gap on multiple blitzes by their inside linebackers. Richie Incognito missed a block on one of those and it resulted in a Tannehill fumble. The group also got beat up physically in the running game, which marked the first time this year that has happened. Miami averaged only 3.0 yards per rush. Ryan Tannehill did a lot of moving in the pocket to give himself time to throw. GRADE: D.
Cameron Wake was a one-man wrecking crew in collecting his 4.5 sacks. It was almost unfair to see him matched against rookie Bobby Massie. The Dolphins also got nice pressure from the other side, particularly when Jared Odrick did nice work for his sack and Koa Misi came on his blitzes. The Dolphins continue to be impossible to run again. Arizona had no balance and actually gave up on running the ball much of the second half. They averaged 1.9 yards on 15 attempts. GRADE: A.
Karlos Dansby had been waiting two years for that sack against his old team and he collected it happily. Misi and Kevin Burnett also showed up – one with solid work in holding the edge on runs and putting pressure on Kevin Kolb with the blitz, the other with his fine coverage on Arizona’s backs and tight end. These guys played well enough to win. GRADE: A.
Sean Smith had a career game, not only picking off two passes, but also getting one in the end zone to keep Arizona from taking a commanding 21-13 lead in the fourth quarter. Smith also did most of his work against Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who caught only eight passes for 64 yards a week after he was named the offensive player of the week in the NFC. The problem with the Dolphins secondary is that it gave up the game-tying TD with 22 seconds to play while in zone coverage and Nolan Carroll seemed to be targeted whenever he was on the field. GRADE: B-minus.
Dan Carpenter missed another crucial field goal. He is clearly in a funk although the miss was 51 yards out. Perhaps it is time the Dolphins bring in a kicker to compete with Carpenter and give him something other than misses to think about. Miami’s kick teams, meanwhile, did nice work against Patrick Peterson. GRADE: D.
Three minutes to play. You lead, 21-14. You have a second-and-8 at the Arizona 41. They have been blitzing all day and getting the QB. Why are you passing? Why? Why? Why? Run the football. Run clock. Gain field position. Play the percentages. Instead the Dolphins passed, Tannehill got sacked, stripped and Arizona took over at their 49 yard line. They eventually drove for a TD to tie the game in regulation. GRADE: D.
Taken as one outing, the Dolphins clearly couldn’t finish. It is the second such overtime game when they have chances to win and fail. But was there improvement in multiple areas? Yes. GRADE: C.