Ryan Tannehill did the Gronk Spike a week early.
And, man did it feel good.
When Tannehill scored a touchdown that (briefly) gave the Dolphins the lead late against the Seahawks on Sunday, he nearly dented the ground.
“It was a lot of emotion in that thing,” Tannehill said. “It was the culmination of a tough day. Couldn't get much going on the offensive side of the ball. We really needed it, needed a touchdown to go up, get the lead. We were able to cap it off.
“Took a big hit [from Earl Thomas], so I knew I had to pop up quick,” Tannehill continued. “It was a lot of emotion there and a lot of joy. Just wanted to spike it and celebrate with my teammates.”
The celebration, of course, was short-lived. The Dolphins gave up a game-winning touchdown drive on Seattle’s next possession.
Three days later, the Dolphins were, fittingly, on to the Patriots (who may or may not have Rob Gronkowski on the field Sunday). They play this weekend in Foxboro, where Tannehill has never won and where the Dolphins haven’t won since 2008. And there’s a theme for all of those losses that mirrors what happened in the Pacific Northwest.
“You have to play well for 60 minutes,” Tannehill said Wednesday. “I think that’s the biggest key for us and probably the part where we’ve failed in the past. We’ve had good halves there but just haven’t put a full game together.”
Like in 2014, when the Dolphins went to the half down just a point, only to be outscored 27-0 in the final two quarters. The year before, they actually led the Patriots by two touchdowns at the break; New England scored the game’s final 24 points to win going away.
The Dolphins have lost by an average of 23.8 points in Tannehill’s four trips to New England. No surprise, then, that the betting lines have the Patriots favored by a touchdown.
“I kind of know what I'm going to get up there, what the crowd's going to be like, what the team's going to be like, how they're probably going to play us most downs,” Tannehill told the Miami Herald. “You just have to aware for that change-up where they throw something at you that you probably haven't seen on tape. Just try to throw you off, try to take away your best player in key situations like in the red zone, third down. They're going to try take away what they think you're going to go to, and you have to adjust off of that.”
Added Dolphins coach Adam Gase: “Once we get into this game, we have to be ready to adjust with them. When they start making moves, we've got to make moves. It's a constant, 60-minute cat and mouse game.”
They have a bit of experience with that now.
The Seahawks effectively neutralized Miami’s best weapon in the opener. It took Jarvis Landry seven catches to total 59 yards for an average of 8.4 per reception. Miami’s two most explosive plays from scrimmage came on screen passes to running backs.
A lot of factors contributed to the Dolphins scoring merely 10 points and converting 3 of 14 third-down opportunities. There were some costly busts in protection. Tannehill had some issues with ball placement. Receivers ran the wrong routes. The Dolphins occasionally lacked a sense of urgency.
And other times? “It was just 'flat out bad call,'” Gase said.
The Dolphins had just 128 yards of offense until Tannehill directed that late scoring drive. Not coincidentally, that’s when Gase started taking Tannehill’s advice. Gase acknowledged that he waited a couple of series too long to start listening to his quarterback.
“He had the right information,” Gase said. “I just had to go with it. That's kind of that relationship you develop as you build games. It takes a second sometimes, but that happening in the first game was good for me, because I know next time he suggests something, there's not going to be hesitation. I'm just going to it.”