When the adrenaline had subsided and Ryan Tannehill was left to walk around the locker room, the quarterback couldn’t mask his pain any longer. His right ankle was taped and he walked with a severe limp as he discussed one of the most memorable finishes in recent memory.
Eventually, Tannehill had to talk about his ankle. He missed the final two plays of the first half when Ja’Wuan James stepped on his right ankle. It looked gruesome, but when the second half began, Tannehill was out on the field at Hard Rock Stadium.
“Honestly, it feels like crap, but it is what it is,” Tannehill said after the game. “You’ve got to be able to fight through some things like that.”
The Miami Dolphins certainly needed him. For 60 minutes Sunday in Miami Gardens, Tannehill went throw for throw with Tom Brady to lead a 34-33 win against the New England Patriots. His biggest throw was technically a 69-yard touchdown pass as time expired, when he started off the ‘Miami Miracle’ by throwing a 14-yard completion to Kenny Stills to kick off a sequence of laterals at the buzzer. The tougher throws, however, came throughout the first 59:53.
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Despite being rendered immobile by his injury, Tannehill finished 14 of 19 for 265 yards and four touchdowns. The quarterback also ran once for 13 yards on a read-option play before injuring his ankle.
The ankle injury is the latest malady for Tannehill in a season stymied by injuries. Primarily, a shoulder injury has hampered the 30-year-old, limiting him to only eight games this season. The injury Sunday was fluky. The New England Patriots applied pressure and the pocket collapsed around Tannehill. As Tannehill tried to escape to his left, a Patriot pushed James toward him and the offensive lineman stepped on Tannehill’s right ankle. Quarterback Brock Osweiler checked in for two plays and the Dolphins (7-6) went nowhere.
At halftime, Tannehill and X-rays done and everything came out clean. Miami had him test it during warmups and Tannehill declared himself good to go.
“Did some drops, did some play-actions, simulated moving the pocket, and felt like I was going to be able to evade a rush and get the ball off,” Tannehill said. “I know if I could do that and hand the ball off, then I would be in good shape. Gave it a go and it worked out.”
In the second half alone, Tannehill went 9 of 11 for 169 yards. He fired a 23-yard rope to wide receiver Brice Butler for a touchdown in the third quarter, then, of course, set up the final touchdown by making an easy throw to wide receiver Kenny Stills.
“I don’t think there’s any question,” coach Adam Gase said in his postgame press conference, “whether or not he’s tough.”
Dolphins unleash Brandon Bolden against former team
When the Dolphins signed Brandon Bolden back in September, it was mostly supposed to bolster Miami’s special teams. It was just an added bonus to irk the Patriots.
New England (9-4) cut the running back while trying to trim its roster to 53 players, although sources told the Herald at the time the Patriots planned to re-sign him. The Dolphins wouldn’t let it happen. Three months later, it came back to bite New England.
Although a miracle ultimately gave Miami its win, Bolden set the shootout tone early. The halfback carried the ball twice — both in the second quarter — and scored touchdowns on both, while piling up 60 yards. Entering Sunday, Bolden had just one carry for 10 yards all year.
“We’ve been kind of waiting to use him,” Gase said. “We had some things for him last week. We got him in there on a touch and I think [Kenyan] Drake and him had another play that didn’t work out too well. He runs hard. He was a really good running back coming out of college.”
His first touch came to camp the Dolphins’ first drive of the second quarter. Out near midfield, Miami handed him the ball and he took off 54 yards to give the Dolphins a 14-13 lead.
On the next drive, Miami entrusted him in the red zone. Bolden burst up the middle and found the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown to take the lead back at 21-20. He never touched the ball again.
“He’s so valuable on special teams that he’s getting a lot of snaps there,” Gase said.” but we’ve got enough packages with him in them that when he touches the ball, he can be explosive.”