Backup quarterback Matt Moore did his part as the emergency starter — he got the Dolphins into the playoffs with road wins the past two weeks at the New York Jets and Buffalo.
Sunday’s 35-14 loss to the top-seeded New England Patriots was expected, and Moore certainly didn’t embarrass himself with two touchdown passes against the Super Bowl favorites.
What happens from here, though, is not yet known.
It would appear that Ryan Tannehill isn’t walking through that door — not without a limp at least — and that Moore would be the likely choice to start at Pittsburgh next week in the Dolphins’ first playoff game in nearly a decade.
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But the Dolphins haven’t ruled out Tannehill, and that suggests their desire to get their starter back for the franchise’s biggest game since its last postseason game in 2008.
If it is Moore, though, he is clearly excited.
“It’s a big deal,” Moore said. “It’s hard to get to the playoffs as a player. I’ve been there one time [as a backup for Carolina in 2008]. … We just have to be ready to go.”
The Dolphins weren’t ready to go on Sunday against the Patriots, at least not in time for the opening kickoff. The Dolphins fell behind 20-0 in the second quarter as the Patriots scored on their first four possessions.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t sacked all day — wasn’t intercepted, either. In fact, he was barely touched, unless you count slaps on the back from happy teammates.
The result was that Brady completed 25 of 33 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns.
Moore, forced to try to match numbers with a sure Hall of Famer, completed 24 of 34 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked, but he did throw one interception on a play in which he left the pocket and headed left before trying to hit tight end Dion Sims.
“I didn’t get the ball far enough,” Moore said of the pass that was picked off by cornerback Logan Ryan. “I scrambled out. I really had two guys [as potential targets]. I saw Dion wait, and I tried to get it to him. I just didn’t get it there.”
Dolphins coach Adam Gase said he thought Moore played well except for that one mistake.
“That turnover,” Gase said, “I know what he saw. [Wide receiver] Kenny [Stills] snapped his route off, and his guy [Ryan] fell off and didn’t go with him. And Matt had already thrown the ball. [Moore] was trying to make a play.
“In that situation, you are fighting for every inch. You are just trying to make sure we possess the ball. It was bad timing [for a turnover], especially at that point in the game.”
Overall, Gase said Moore has done well “protecting the football.”
“He has operated the offense very well,” Gase said.
“He’s led the guys. He’s done a good job, and we have to build on what he’s done. We have to figure out a way to get him in the right position.”
As for Tannehill, Gase said he needs more information from the medical staff.
“I’m going to make the call on it,” Gase said. “If I don’t feel comfortable, Matt will stay the starting quarterback.”