Five wins in a row. Five.
And none more improbable for the Dolphins than the latest.
Ryan Tannehill led the Dolphins on touchdown drives on Miami’s last two possessions, somehow willing his team to a 14-10 win over the Rams Sunday.
The game winner? A nine-yard hookup to DeVante Parker with 36 seconds left in regulation.
Tannehill had nothing the first 11 drives of the game. He was everything in the last two.
The Dolphins had just 27 passing yards on their first 25 dropbacks.
But in the game’s final 6:40, Tannehill connected on 12 of 13 passing attempts for 115 yards and those two scores.
“[Bleeping] hell of a job,” said Jarvis Landry, whose body was so ravaged by cramping that he could barely stand after the game. “Hell of a job. Hell of a job. He did exactly what big-time players do. He made the plays when they count. He did that for us tonight. He carried us, to continue this winning streak we’ve got. Something special.”
That word seems apt.
The Dolphins are now 6-4, alone in second in the AFC East. They’re just a game behind the Chiefs and Broncos, who would be the AFC’s two wildcard teams if the season ended today.
They swept their West Coast swing, suggesting Adam Gase’s decision to remain in California for nearly two weeks was the right one.
They return home to face the 1-9 San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
And no matter how deep the hole, no matter how poorly they play, they know if they can keep it close, they’ll always have a chance to win.
There’s a belief in this organization now, from the very top to the bottom, that Tannehill can deliver in the clutch.
And for a quarterback, there’s no higher compliment.
Yes, Tannehill wasn’t great Sunday. He was 24 of 34 for 172 yards, threw a pick and was sacked four times.
He overthrew Parker in the end zone early in the second half — resulting in his interception — and then underthrew him downfield later in the game.
But when it mattered most, with less than a minute left in a game the Dolphins had not led to that point, he made the perfect throw.
Parker drew single coverage from Trumaine Johnson. The Rams defensive back had no shot when Parker made his cut to the sidelines.
“I saw the cornerback was playing a little off and it was just an out route,” Parker said. “I had to just attack his leverage and just break out. It was good timing.”
Actually, it was perfect timing for a Dolphins team that’s winning games late that they would have lost in years past.
Heck, even in weeks past.
After losing on final drives against the Seahawks and Patriots, the Dolphins’ last three wins have been because of late touchdowns by special teams, the defense and now the offense.
“We have an undying belief in each other,” Tannehill said. “It takes everyone. I love the way this team plays.”
For the last seven minutes, at least. The first 53 were brutal.
They trailed 7-0 at the break; the game’s only scoring to that point was a 24-yard touchdown run by Rams running back Todd Gurley.
All they did in the first half was punt — even after having first-and-10 at the Los Angeles 23.
The Rams weren’t great on offense either, but they were certainly better than the Dolphins. And when Greg Zuerlein booted through a 46-yard field goal late in the third quarter, the game seemed as good as over.
“We kind of just looked inside ourselves and said like, ‘Look, it’s time to go,’” said guard Jermon Bushrod. “‘Seven-and-a-half minutes left, it’s time to go. We don’t have any more opportunities. This is it right now, and if we don’t get it done, then we’re going to go home losers.’”
Instead, Tannehill woke up. And the offensive line, which was down three starters after Laremy Tunsil left with a shoulder injury, started blocking.
And Zuerlein clanged a 48-yard field goal off the left upright.
And half the Dolphins offense shoved Landry into the end zone after he looked to be stopped at the 5.
Landry was spent afterwards. He could barely stand during his postgame meeting with reporters.
“It says a lot about this team, man,” Landry said. “A lot about this team. From everybody that doubted us early on to now, and people who will still doubt us in the future, we thank you. We thank you because it motivates us. It motivates us, especially in times like that, when we have to stick together as brothers like that, and come from behind, and take it.”