The Dolphins didn’t ask much of Jarvis Landry Sunday.
Just save their season.
As is often the case, the league’s leading receiver was up to the task.
Landry caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown in the Dolphins’ 30-24 overtime win over the Browns Sunday.
And as true showmen do, Landry saved his best for last: a 32-yard catch in overtime that set up Jay Ajayi’s 11-yard, game-winning touchdown run.
Landry shook free of ex-teammate Jamar Taylor with a double move that was so effective, Cleveland’s secondary wasn’t in sight when Ryan Tannehill’s pass arrived.
With that type of precision at such a critical time, the Dolphins must have been working on that play since the spring, right?
Nope. Try Friday morning.
“We got it two days ago,” Landry said.
Added Tannehill: “I think we got one rep, one rep at it.”
So yes, faced with 2016 oblivion — only one team in 50 rebounds from an 0-3 start to make the playoffs — Adam Gase called an overtime deep shot that his team had practiced exactly once before.
But if nothing else works — and to be sure, little did Sunday — why not?
The Dolphins (1-2) likely should have lost Sunday in the opening of the House that Ross [Re-]Built. The official relaunch of Hard Rock Stadium was nearly spoiled.
And it probably would have been if the Dolphins faced any other team with any other kicker.
Cody Parkey was on the team only because Cleveland’s regular kicker, Patrick Murray, suffered a freak knee injury Friday.
Let’s hope Parkey didn’t unpack. It’s hard to see how he keeps his job after missing three field goals Sunday, including one wide left on the final play of regulation.
The Browns (0-3) nearly stole this one after Corey Lemonier strip-sacked Tannehill at the Miami 27 with 20 seconds left in the game. (Tannehill finished 25 of 39 for 319 yards, three touchdowns and two picks.)
All that stood between Cleveland and its first win in 2016: Parkey booting through a 46-yard attempt.
But he plays for the Browns, who are so cursed, they were on their third quarterback in as many weeks. (Cody Kessler got the start and didn’t embarrass himself.)
So Parkey biffed it, like he did two earlier kicks.
“I couldn’t believe he missed it,” Tannehill said. “I don’t think we deserved that other chance.”
Added defensive end Cameron Wake: “We probably lucked out and they didn’t.”
Breaks tend to even out over the course of the season. Dolphins higher-ups acknowledged privately that they dodged a bullet, and played better in their Week 1 loss to Seattle than Sunday’s win over the Browns.
Here’s just a couple of examples proving their point:
▪ The Dolphins turned the ball over three times, including a pick-6 thrown by Tannehill to Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
▪ They allowed 430 yards of Cleveland offense, and gave up a long fourth-quarter drive for the third time in as many weeks.
▪ They converted 2 of 10 on third downs, and committed eight penalties for 67 yards.
▪ And on their last four possessions in regulation, the Dolphins totaled just 33 yards and one first down.
So while Hue Jackson’s decision to kick away after winning the overtime coin toss was jaw-dropping, Gase said it shouldn’t have been.
“The way we were playing offensively, it was probably a good idea,” Gase said.
Landry, who also had a 42-yard catch and run for a touchdown in the third quarter, didn’t see it that way.
“It was disrespectful,” Landry said. “It was very disrespectful.”
Perhaps. But it wasn’t costly. The Dolphins didn’t cross midfield on their first overtime possession and had to punt.
Matt Darr did his job, pinning the Browns inside their 10. Miami’s defense did its job, forcing a punt at the Cleveland 13.
And who was back to receive? Landry, of course. Britton Colquitt’s punt was low and returnable. Landry brought it back 13 yards to the Browns 44.
Two plays later, Gase radioed in the double-move play, with Landry as the primary target.
Because he did, Gase is a winner as a head coach for the first time.
And the Dolphins’ season isn’t over before it truly could begin.