What we learned on our trip across the pond: the food and weather are both better than advertised.
And Ryan Tannehill won’t give up his starting job without one hellacious fight.
Tannehill, the Dolphins’ embattled quarterback, gave his best Sunday when he needed it the most.
On the heels of what he called “the most challenging” week of his career, Tannehill completed 23 of 31 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns in the Dolphins’ 38-14 thrashing of the Raiders on a picturesque day at Wembley Stadium.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
“I’m a realist,” Tannehill said. “I envision myself as a good player, and I know I wasn’t playing up to those standards the first three weeks.
“I wanted to come out and personally play better, and my teammates need that from me,” Tannehill added. “They expect me to play better, and to be able to come out and finally do that, it felt good.”
Never once, Tannehill said, did he think he was playing for his job this week. But his coach, Joe Philbin, gave more than a few that impression when — time and again — he declined to name Tannehill as the team’s starter.
But after Tannehill lit up arguably the worst defense in football, the Dolphins enter their bye with their most complete effort of the year, and a rejuvenated locker room forced to deal with drama that their own coach created.
“Do you see any turmoil today?” Cameron Wake asked rhetorically. “It looked like they were sweet as peaches.”
Wake added: “Winning fixes a lot. But regardless of the situation, [Tannehill] is our guy. He’s always been our guy.”
Stephen Ross certainly appeared pleased. The Dolphins owner smiled broadly as he emerged from the winning locker room, and told the assembled media: “It was a great win. They looked great out there.”
No one more so than Tannehill, who had one bad pass — a third-down overthrow to Brian Hartline — the entire first half. Tannehill completed 14 consecutive passes in one stretch, a streak that is tied for fourth-best in team history.
He led the Dolphins to scores on their first four drives — the first time the team has done that in a game since 2007. And he amassed an astronomical passer rating of 146.5 at halftime.
It was a stark and needed turnaround for a player who had struggled in his past five outings, dating back to 2013.
Every bonfire starts with a single spark, and Tannehill’s came in the Dolphins’ second drive.
Trailing 7-3, the Dolphins faced second-and-9 from their own 28 when Tannehill fired a dart to Brian Hartline, who got open up the seam. The pass went for 35 yards, and kick-started the first of three consecutive touchdown drives.
“He was very decisive out there,” Philbin said. “I thought he threw the ball very accurately. … It looked like he played a very good football game.”
If Philbin’s grand scheme all along was to light a fire under Tannehill’s backside, it was a master stroke. But Philbin took no such credit here Sunday.
And he barely allowed himself to exhale after avoiding a season-derailing loss to a Raiders team that might struggle to win four games.
But the Dolphins left for home late Sunday back even at 2-2, just a half-game out of first place. And if the Chiefs trip up the Patriots on Monday night, Miami will be back atop the division because of its win over New England in the opener.
Among the afternoon’s many encouraging signs:
▪ The Dolphins won in a rout despite turning the ball over three times.
▪ Lamar Miller (64 yards, two touchdowns) continues to pace a much-improved ground game. Miami rushed for 157 yards, and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
▪ The pass protection was also better. The Raiders didn’t sack Tannehill once.
▪ Nine different Dolphins caught a pass, led by Hartline (six for 74 yards).
▪ Mike Wallace had a touchdown reception for the fourth time in five games.
▪ And the defense forced four turnovers and allowed just one Raiders score through the first three-and-a-half quarters.
“It’s football, but it’s still a game,” Wallace said. “As long as you’re having fun out there, the sky’s the limit.”
No one had more fun than Tannehill, who put to rest questions about his ability – at least for the next 14 days. Throughout his tumultuous week, Tannehill never wavered, Wallace said.
“Ryan was on point today,” Wallace added.