After a long weekend trip to London, Ryan Tannehill couldn’t keep his eyes open and fell asleep during the first half of the Patriots’ game at Kansas City on Monday night.
When he awoke, he found out his Dolphins were in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East thanks in part to Sunday’s rout of the Raiders at Wembley Stadium.
“I was a little tired after the trip, so I went to bed early,’’ Tannehill said.
“It’s early in the season. Obviously, when we came into this year, we knew it was going to be a tight race. It always is and, to be able to be in it at this point, there’s a lot of football left. We have to go in and play every week, so it’s a little early to start jumping to any conclusions or reading into anything. There’s a lot of football left.”
Tuesday’s upbeat atmosphere was welcomed after two straight losses — including a lopsided home defeat to the Chiefs which brought plenty of questions of whether Tannehill would remain the Dolphins’ starter.
Coach Joe Philbin refused to say Tannehill would start against the Raiders. Tannehill later said it was a distraction.
There were no such questions Tuesday, not after the game Tannehill had against Oakland.
“Well, it feels a little different,’’ Tannehill said with a grin. “I’m not going to lie on that, but it feels good. It is a step in the positive direction for us, for myself and for the offense, for the team. We needed to go over there and come out with a victory, and we were able to do that.’’
Tannehill, who was asked whether last week’s controversy “lit a fire under” him, had one of his best games in three seasons with the Dolphins.
In Miami’s 38-14 win, Tannehill completed 23 of 31 passes — including 14 in a row at one point — for 278 yards and two touchdowns.
“I don’t think I felt any added pressure or anything like that,’’ said Tannehill, whose 109.3 quarterback rating was easily his best in four games this season and fourth-highest in 36 games with Miami.
“Regardless of what was going on on the outside world, I have a vision of myself of what player I want to be and how I want to play. Like I said on Sunday, I wasn’t playing up to those standards. I wanted to go out and play well, and make the plays.’’
Said Philbin: “He just threw the ball well. He threw the ball well in practice last week. ... We talk all the time about the transfer from the practice field to the game field, and I thought he threw the ball well. He had good velocity. The location was good. I think he was just kind of clicking.’’
With a bye week coming, the Dolphins are going to have one more practice Wednesday before breaking for the weekend.
For Tannehill, just getting away is a nice respite from the daily grind of a season.
Said Tannehill, “We have some big games coming up and we have to use this time in the bye week to recover physically and mentally and prepare for what we have coming up.’’
Philbin said the Dolphins are trying to get some work in before the break with Green Bay coming to Sun Life Stadium on Oct. 12.
For the most part, however, Philbin just wants his team “fresh and ready to roll” when it returns next week.
“We want to take advantage of this short week, get a jump on our next opponent,’’ Philbin said.
“There is a lot of football left to be played, and all the things we want to do are out there. It’s all going to be determined by how well we perform on the field. It’s a good spot to be in.”
▪ After on-and-off discussions for two weeks, the Dolphins on Tuesday signed former Oregon star running back LaMichael James to their practice squad. James, 5-9, requested his release from the 49ers after the season opener because he wanted to find a team that would give him a bigger role.
He hopes he can use a practice squad job with the Dolphins as a springboard into a meaningful role on a 53-man roster, here or elsewhere. In 15 games over two-plus seasons for the 49ers, James averaged 4.5 yards per rush on 41 carries. He ranked 10th in the league in punt return average last season at 10.9. The Dolphins have five running backs on their 53-man roster, including injured Knowshon Moreno.
Undrafted Georgia Tech defensive end Emmanel Dieke also was signed to the practice squad.