Dolphins coach Adam Gase discusses quarterback Matt Moore's performance against the Jets
Welcome to Dolphins folklore, Matt Moore.
You picked the perfect time to have the best game of your career.
Moore, making his first start since Barack Obama’s first term, wasn’t just great on Saturday night.
He’s never been better.
Moore carved up an exposed and overpaid Jets secondary to the tune of 236 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes, keying the Dolphins’ 34-13 beatdown of New York.
Moore’s play didn’t just impress the kids. The legends found it strangely similar to another Dolphins super sub from a bygone era.
“Moore reminding me of Morrall,” Hall of Famer Larry Csonka wrote on Twitter.
As in Earl Morrall. As in the steady hand who steered the Dolphins’ perfect season when Bob Griese was injured.
Now, the Dolphins remain a very long shot to win the Super Bowl.
But with a knee injury keeping starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill out of commission for the foreseeable future, the Dolphins will go as far as Moore’s right arm takes them.
That just might be the playoffs. The Dolphins (9-5) still need help, obviously. They could win out and miss the postseason if the Broncos do the same.
But Miami has certainly done its part.
The Dolphins won for the eighth time in nine games on Saturday. No, that is not a typo.
They’ve won on the legs of Jay Ajayi. They’ve won on the speed of Kiko Alonso. They’ve won on the tenacity of Ndamukong Suh. And, yes, they’ve often won on the heroics of Tannehill.
On Saturday night against the Jets (4-10), Moore proved to be more than a suitable replacement for however long Tannehill is out.
Moore was so hot he melted the freshly fallen New Jersey snow.
He didn’t start that way. Nerves were a real issue. But a 17-yard completion to DeVante Parker got him going.
“I would be lying if I said there was no nerves,” Moore said. “Maybe it showed a little early. We started slow and kind of got into a little groove there in the middle part of the game. Once we got going, I think all of that negative stuff, if you will, kind of wore off. A couple of guys made some big plays, and we got on a roll.”
Did they ever.
Moore, after two fruitless drives to start the game, completed 10 of his last 14 passes. Four of those 10 completions were touchdowns.
Two went to Dion Sims — both, coincidentally, from 1 yard out.
But Moore wasn’t just dinking and dunking.
He earned his gunslinger reputation on Saturday.
Moore put the Dolphins ahead for good late in the first half when he connected with Kenny Stills for 52 yards.
Stills ran a post and got 5 yards of separation.
And when Jarvis Landry took a sideline pass 66 yards to the end zone midway through the third quarter, the rout was on.
That capped a dizzying 11-minute, four-touchdown stretch for the Dolphins.
“For [Moore] to come in and play with the confidence he played with, to a lot of people it was unexpected, but for us it was something we already knew,” Landry said.
“We took some shots,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said, “and he hit them.”
Even special teams played its part. Walt Aikens blocked, then recovered Lachlan Edwards’ punt, returning it 11 yards to the end zone.
There were a couple of individual milestones achieved, too. Landry went over 1,000 yards receiving for the season — he had 108 yards for the game. Ajayi went over 1,000 yards rushing. Tony Lippett recorded his second two-interception game of the season.
And Cameron Wake might somehow be better than ever.
Wake became the first Dolphins defensive lineman to both force a fumble and intercept a pass in the same game since 2006.
Wake did both in the same half.
He also knocked the Jets’ Bryce Petty from the game when he and Suh sandwiched the second-year quarterback.
Show us a more worthy Comeback Player of the Year.
And, for that matter, show us a better Coach of the Year candidate than Gase.
Most everyone wrote the Dolphins off after their 1-4 start. Now they’re the hottest team in football.
And Gase has done this despite losing safety Reshad Jones, center Mike Pouncey, linebacker Koa Misi and now probably Tannehill for the season.
The Dolphins don’t have a ton of depth. They have holes all over the team.
But they’re also playing their best football since 2008, the last time they went to the playoffs.
That was also the last time the Dolphins had a winning record.
One streak down.
One to go.