The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

A HAPPY ENDING

The Fins have given away games at the end too often this season, but that was not the case against the Seahawks on Sunday as they scored 17 points in the last 8:08 to win 24-21.  The comeback was capped by a Dan Carpenter 43-yard field goal with the game clock at 00:00.  And although Rookie Ryan Tannehill has taken his lumps over some of his fourth-quarter performances, particularly of late, he did drive the team 65 yards in 7 plays to set up the happy ending.

It was the defense that kept the Fins in this game, holding Seattle to 14 points (their other touchdown came on a kickoff return).  Seattle only had 312 total net yards.  All was not too rosy, however, as Seattle QB Russell Wilson managed 16 straight completions against the Fins and threw for 224 yards.  This probably has a lot to do with the fact that the Seahawks went 7 of 14 on third down conversions.  The defense may have bent, but it still did not break, keeping the Fins in the game even though the offense could manage only 7 points through the first 51 minutes of the game.  The brightest spot for the Fins’ defense was holding Marshawn Lynch to 46 yards on 19 carries (2.4 per attempt).

Meanwhile, the Fins’ ran pretty effectively against a Seahawks’ defense which is usually tough to run against.  Reggie Bush ran 14 times for 87 yards (6.2 yard average) and Daniel Thomas ran 9 times for 60 yards (6.7 yard average).  Bush had a 21-yard touchdown while Thomas had a 3-yarder. 

As for Tannehill, he was bottled up pretty well until the fourth quarter.  He finished 18 of 26 for 253 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.  His passer rating was 97.1.  Only pure luck prevented his final stats from reflecting another INT because a very bad decision that resulted in an INT in the end zone was wiped off the board by a penalty for a hit to his helmet after he threw that pick.  In fact, without that yellow flag, the Fins would clearly have lost the game, so give a big assist to the zebras for this one.

The offensive line opened up more holes than they had been opening, but there were still some breakdowns.  Jake Long gave up a sack in the first quarter and Mike Pouncey got called for holding after he was beaten in pass protection.  While Pouncey can be excused for this transgression coming in a year when he has played so well, Jake Long continues to struggle.  With each passing game it becomes less likely that the Fins’ are going to part with the kind of dollars it will take to either resign him or use a franchise tag.  Although it was once thought to be unthinkable that the Fins would let him move on when his contract expires, it no longer looks that way.  He clearly isn’t the same Jake Long who was deservedly rewarded with a trip to the Pro Bowl each year of his NFL career.  Don’t be surprised if Jonathan Martin is moved from right tackle to left tackle next year in a move that would save the Fins’ a boatload of salary cap dollars, especially if they can find a serviceable right tackle in the draft.

On Sunday the Fins said good-bye to the 3-game losing streak which put them out of playoff contention.  Dan Carpenter redeemed himself for some costly late-game misses earlier this season, misses which caused the Fins to be out of playoff contention.  But at least this Sunday there was truly a happy ending.

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