Miami tight end Charles Clay is not an easy man to please, even after setting a career high in receiving yards.
Clay caught five passes for 109 yards in the Dolphins’ 24-20 win at Indianapolis on Sunday, while he also rushed for the game-winning touchdown.
“The thing with me is that it may look like a great performance, but I’m real picky,” Clay said. “Granted the game went pretty good, but there will be things that bug me and I’ll have to get better on, that’s just my nature.”
After free agent acquisition Dustin Keller’s season-ending knee injury in the preseason, Clay knew more was going to be expected of him.
So far, he has delivered.
Clay had five receptions for the second game in a row.
“We knew he’s a fast guy and we could use his speed,” said Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, “and he showed it today.”
Well, except on one play, when Clay “did get caught [from behind],” Tannehill joked.
On that play In the first quarter, Tannehill threaded a pass to Clay over the middle of the field, in which Indianapolis safety Antoine Bethea ran past the play going for an interception.
Clay caught the pass and turned upfield for a career-long 67-yard gain, eventually getting chased down by LaRon Landry at the 10-yard line.
Lamar Miller rushed for a 10-yard score on the next play, giving the Dolphins a 14-3 lead.
“I told Ryan that might be one of the tightest windows to get a ball through,” Clay said. “It was a great throw. The safety went for the ball and it opened up the field.”
But in staying true to his nature, Clay sees room for improvement.
“I need to score next time,” he said smiling. “I didn’t realize how fast LaRon Landry was. But we got the win, and that’s the most important thing.”
Clay later picked up a touchdown, but in an unlikely manner — on his first professional rushing attempt. His 1-yard plunge, which was upheld on an official’s review, put the Dolphins ahead 24-20 in the third quarter and stood up as the winning score.
“The offensive line did a great job of blocking up and it opened up,” said Clay, who had 179 career rushing attempts at Tulsa, splitting time as a fullback and tight end. “It’s something we’ve always worked on dating back to last year, it’s just a matter of how the game moves and what [the coaches] think will work.”
It doesn’t appear Clay will be taking home a memento of his first rushing touchdown.
“I didn’t know how to react,” he said. “People were asking me if I kept the ball. I don’t even know what I did with the ball, but I was just excited. It was exciting to get my first carry in the NFL and my first carry in awhile. They did a great job of blocking up front and it opened up.”
Miami rushed for 101 yards against the Colts after gaining just 20 last week in the opener. Tannehill was 23 of 34 passing for 319 yards and one touchdown, with Mike Wallace hauling in nine receptions for 115 yards.
It all helps to create openings on the field for Clay.
“We did a good job of complementing each other,” Clay said. “We have a lot of weapons that teams have to worry about, which gets us [tight ends] singled up on linebackers and we have to take advantage of that.”
Clay’s performance is the second-most receiving yards in a game by a Dolphins tight end, falling short of Ferrell Edmunds’ 117-yard performance against the New York Jets in 1988.