Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was praised for his role during the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak, so it was only fitting that the five-year NFL veteran shouldered part of the blame for Sunday’s 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
“I didn’t make some good decisions,” Tannehill said. “Too many mistakes. Across the board, too many mistakes. We had errors, we had communication issues, and when you play a good team on the road you can’t have that.”
Despite completing 29 of 40 passes — mostly underneath coverage — he threw a season-high three interceptions and finished with a quarterback rating of 63.1, the second worst of his season, only slightly better than his 62.3 passer rating in a 30-17 loss to Tennessee in Week 5.
It was a stark contrast to the way he played during the winning streak, when he completed nearly 68 percent of his passes, with nine touchdowns and just one interception, earning an average quarterback rating of 104.7.
That streak, however, also coincided with the emergence of Jay Ajayi as one of the top young running backs in the league, forcing opposing defenses to stack the box and daring Tannehill to beat them through the air.
He did that to near perfection last week against San Francisco, earning a quarterback rating of 130.6, tied for the second highest of his five-year career.
On Sunday, however, with the threat of a balanced offense limited by an early 14-0 deficit, Tannehill could do little to make plays downfield against a defense primed to stop the pass.
“We moved the ball well. We just didn’t take advantage of opportunities once we got down in the red zone,” Tannehill said. “When you play a good team on the road, you have to take advantage of those situations and get the ball in the end zone.”
The Dolphins drove inside Baltimore’s 30 on each of their first two possessions, only to see those opportunities slip away with a missed 46-yard field goal by Andrew Franks and an interception in the end zone by safety Lardarius Webb.
Then, after Byron Maxwell’s interception gave the Dolphins the ball at the Ravens’ 38, a false start by DeVante Parker and four-yard loss by Ajayi put them in a third-and-12 hole they couldn’t convert.
“You just can’t waste opportunities early in a game, especially on offense,” coach Adam Gase said. “We cross the 50 three times and get no points. We had nothing that really jumpstarted us. We just couldn’t make any plays.”
Said receiver Jarvis Landry: “We didn’t complement each other like we had been, and it’s something that we have to go back and look at and fix. We were in positions a lot of times to make plays, and we had penalties a lot of times that took us back and put us behind the stakes.”
The situation only was compounded by the poor start.
After coming out intent to run against the league’s top-ranked rushing defense, the Dolphins soon were forced to abandon that plan. Ajayi gained 47 yards on his first seven carriers, but managed just 14 more yards over the final 43:16 of game play.
It all added up to a disastrous afternoon for Tannehill, who vowed to put this effort behind him, as the Dolphins will continue to push for their first playoff berth since 2008 next week against Arizona.
“We have four games left,” Tannehill said. “Everything we want is still in front of us. We just have to reset and correct our mistakes We’ll be ready to go next week.”