Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaFeatured Columnist IVNovember 25, 2012

Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami

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    The Miami Dolphins (5-6) defeat the Seattle Seahawks (6-5) 24-21 in a barn-burner in Miami.

    With the win Ryan Tannehill gets his first (of hopefully many) fourth quarter comeback victories thanks to a masterful game-winning drive, while Dan Carpenter hit a much-needed game-winning field goal. This victory would salvage some of Miami's playoff chances as they at least will keep pace in the AFC playoff race.

    Here's a look at the grades and analysis for a much-needed victory for Miami in many more ways than just to keep them in the post-season.

Offense — A

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    Overall Game Grade A

    I can’t emphasize how much the fourth quarter performance of the Dolphins had to do with Miami’s offensive grade, as they out-scored the Seahawks 17-7 in the fourth quarter, which led to the victory.

    This was a balanced effort, as Miami gained 246 yards in the air, and 187 yards on the ground. Against one of the best defenses in the NFL, this was exactly the offensive performance Miami needed to pull off the victory, and pull it off they did.

    Fourth Quarter A+

    The offense would show some signs of life in the fourth quarter, thanks in part to two great throws by Ryan Tannehill, good running by Daniel Thomas (including the touchdown), and even a great use of a reverse to Marlon Moore. The result was a touchdown that would tie the game.

    The Dolphins’ offense would get the ball once again after a Leon Washington kickoff return for a touchdown, and it would start off as the Reggie Bush show thanks to a 22-yard run, followed by a three yard run. Tannehill also continued looking good, thanks to an 18-yard pass to Daniel Thomas. This pass wasn’t thrown the best as Thomas had to go up to catch it, but it showed great awareness on Tannehill’s part, as he was heavily pressured by Seattle’s front seven.

    Tannehill would punctuate the drive with a beautiful pass to Charles Clay down the sidelines for 29-yards and the touchdown.

    The last drive was another great one thanks in part to Ryan Tannehill’s poise under pressure, as he led the Dolphins down the field to set up Carpenter’s game-winning field goal.

    Third Quarter — D

    Miami’s running game wouldn’t have the same success to start the second half that they did at the end of the first half, thanks in part to Seattle snuffing out the edges. Despite how big Seattle is up the middle, more interior rushes will be needed if Miami is to keep the defense honest in the running game, as both runs at the start of the quarter looked like they were telegraphed to the Seahawks’ defense.

    On the next drive, Miami’s biggest offensive gain would come courtesy of a 19-yard Ryan Tannehill run. Other than that, Miami would struggle to run the football, while a Tannehill pass would get batted in the air on third and seven.

    Second Quarter — A

    Miami’s running game seems to be back to the level of play they showed to open the season, gaining 88  yards in the first half. Daniel Thomas was the main ball carrier for most of the quarter, but it was Reggie Bush who scored the game’s first touchdown via a 21-yard run.

    First Quarter — D-

    Miami’s offense had a few promising plays to start the game (mostly in the run game) , but starting off with consistently bad field position as well as an early turnover (an interception by Ryan Tannehill) is the main reason why the Dolphins haven’t put any points on the board.

Ryan Tannehill — A

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    Overall Game Grade A

    Why not an A+? Because of the first quarter interception. Other than that, Tannehill was excellent in the pocket, throwing for 253 yards and a touchdown to go along with the interception, completing 18 out of 26 passes.

    Tannehill was at his best when Miami needed him the most, completing his last five passes leading to a touchdown on one drive, followed by the game-winning field goal.

    Fourth Quarter A+

    Tannehill’s first two passes of the fourth quarter were bullets that gave Miami first-downs. The first one to Charles Clay was zipped in there perfectly, while his pass to Davone Bess wasn’t the best throw, but instead an example of doing a great job reading the defense and reacting to what they were giving him (a wide-open Davone Bess).

    Tannehill did make one mistake in throwing an interception, however the call would be overruled thanks to Tannehill getting hit in the head on the play, giving Miami new life, and on the ensuing play there would be a touchdown run by Daniel Thomas.

    The next drive would start off with some nice runs by Reggie Bush, but it would be Tannehill who scored the touchdown thanks to a beautiful 29-yard pass to Charles Clay. While the running game spearheaded the drive, Tannehill was able to evade heavy pressure twice against the Seahawks defense, with one of them coming on third-and-seven (completed pass to Daniel Thomas).

    Tannehill would have a chance to win the game for Miami with 1:32 left with the drive starting at their own 10-yard line. The drive would start off well, with Tannehill connecting with Bess two passes to Bess, along with a 15-yard gain on a scramble, which put Miami at the Seattle 37-yard line.

    Tannehill would then find Clay (who would go out of bounds to stop the clock), which along with a four yard run by Daniel Thomas would set up a Tannehill field goal attempt.

    The kick was good, giving Tannehill his first of hopefully many fourth-quarter comebacks.  

    Third Quarter — C

    Tannehill’s first drive of the half would start off well enough, as he completed two passes to Brian Hartline, gaining a first down out of one of them. However on the other pass, Hartline was short, causing Seattle to decline an illegal shift penalty on the Dolphins and force them to punt it away.

    Meanwhile Ryan Tannehill would break one of Dan Marino’s records, hopefully the first of many as he passed Marino in passing yards by a quarterback in a rookie season. However with the way the running game has performed in the second half, Tannehill might be forced to obliterate that record (and not make any mistakes) in order for Miami to have a chance in this game.

    Right after breaking the record, Tannehill would gain 19-yards on a run of his own, but one problem with it: why didn’t he slide? Maybe it would’ve prevented the sprinklers from going off.

    Second Quarter — B+

    Miami played it conservatively in the second quarter, with the running game picking up a majority of the yards. However Tannehill still managed to give the Dolphins three very good throws, all for completions to Charles Clay and Davone Bess.

    First Quarter — F

    The good news about Ryan Tannehill in the first quarter is he out-performed Russell Wilson. The bad news however is he gained only 17 yards and already threw an interception. So far not a great start for the rookie.

Running Backs

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    Reggie Bush — A

    Reggie Bush gained 87 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries. Think about that for a second, as he’s gained less on more carries in the past five games against teams that didn’t do so well against the run, but against a team with a great run defense, he managed to put up that stat line.

    Daniel Thomas — A

    Thomas was just as excellent on the ground for Miami, as he gained 60 yards and a touchdown on only nine carries.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

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    Brian Hartline — C

    Hartline was only found twice (both in the second quarter) for 17 yards. But if he was quiet on a good day for Tannehill, this usually means…

    Davone Bess — A+

    I somewhat feel bad for Davone Bess as he didn’t score a touchdown, however he did more than his fair share to help Miami’s offense produce thanks to seven catches for 129 yards, with two of those key catches coming on the final drive of the fourth quarter, helping set the Dolphins up in field goal range for Dan Carpenter to win the game.

    Marlon Moore — A

    Moore wasn’t passed to during this game, however his nine-yard rush would lead to a Daniel Thomas touchdown to tie the game at 14 at the start of the fourth quarter.

    Anthony Fasano — A

    Fasano only had one pass go to him, but he caught it for a 10-yard gain. It was his only target, but he was also instrumental in run-blocking.

    Charles Clay — A+

    Clay had his best day as a Dolphin thanks in part to six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown that tied the game at 21 in the fourth quarter. He was also Miami’s second-leading receiver after Davone Bess, and made two other key catches in the fourth quarter.

Offensive Line

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    Jake Long — A

    Richie Incognito — A

    Mike Pouncey — A

    John Jerry — A

    Jonathan Martin — A

    Isn't it better to give straight A's to the line instead of straight Fs? The Dolphins offensive line won the battle against an aggressive defensive front, not only giving Tannehill more than enough time to make the right plays, but also open up the running game. This is their best game all season, as they only allowed one sack (which was Jake Long's sack).

Defense — A-

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    Overall Game Grade A-

    The only nitpick I have is that for the first 58 minutes it felt like no one could get a sack. However Miami’s defense came through when it mattered the most, forcing Seattle out of field goal range with three consecutive negative plays.

    Fourth Quarter A

    It was a better start in the fourth quarter for the Dolphins defense, as they managed to force Seattle to punt AND get Russell Wilson to throw an incomplete pass. They also continued their dominance of the Seattle running game, with Lynch’s big gain coming thanks in part to a holding call that went uncalled.

    Their next defensive possession was what one would call “nut-cutting” time, as Seattle was driving with the game knotted up at 21-all. Miami’s defense had some issues containing the Seahawks passing game, with Wilson continuing his brilliance in the pocket.

    The key play of this drive was a pass from Russell Wilson to Marshawn Lynch that the Dolphins would snuff out for a six-yard loss, forcing a third-and-17 for Seattle. This would lead to a Jared Odrick sack of Wilson right behind mid-field, forcing Seattle to punt with the game tied up. Great job defense, for not allowing Seattle to score and coming up big when needed the most.

    Third Quarter F

    Going back to the second quarter, Russell Wilson has dominated the Dolphins’ defense all on his own. On Seattle’s first offensive drive of the game, we would see more of the same, en route to a Seahawks touchdown.

    The pressure on Wilson was laughable, and even when they did get pressure on him, dumb tackling tactics (why would anyone aim high to tackle someone at least five inches shorter I will never understand) and Wilson’s overall elusiveness did the Dolphins’ defense in.

    Worse still for Miami, Seattle held onto the ball for eight minutes, 11 seconds on the first drive of the quarter, while their second drive is underway at the start of the fourth quarter.

    Second Quarter — B-

    Miami’s defense continued their hot start into the second quarter, forcing Seattle to punt on their first drive of the quarter. However they did allow a big gain in the form of a 26-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate, but this would only mean worse field position to start off after the change of possession than what they have gotten had a stop been made.

    The next drive would see Seattle get their first downs thanks primarily to Wilson’s own brilliance in finding his receivers while under pressure. Miami doesn’t seem to have a problem getting pressure on the quarterback, their problem has been getting the job finished and tackling said quarterback. But considering how much they struggled with this against Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jake Locker in their last two games, they’ve actually contained Russell Wilson (a quarterback who’s much better on his feet than those two) fairly well.  

    At least that was the case until Golden Tate made a miraculous catch with R.J. Sanford covering him inside of two minutes left in the half, which set the Seahawks up for a touchdown pass from Wilson to Anthony McCoy two plays later.

    First Quarter — A

    You couldn’t ask for a better start to the game from Miami’s defense, who have held the Seahawks to 27 yards total in the first quarter while holding Marshawn Lynch to -1 yard. The Seahawks still have had yet to get a first down, going three and out on each drive.

Defensive Line

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    Cameron Wake — B

    Wake only had one tackle, but it was for a loss, and no sacks. Not his best game, but because of him, Miami was able to do a good job of stopping the run. Wake is also somewhat responsible for Jared Odrick’s big sack in the fourth quarter.

    Paul Soliai — A+

    Randy Starks — A+

    Five tackles, half a sack, but most importantly, holding Marshawn Lynch to 46 yards rushing on 19 carries. Great effort by the middle of Miami’s defensive line.

    Jared Odrick — A

    Odrick came up big with four tackles, a big fourth-quarter sack, and two tackles for a loss.

    Tony McDaniel — A

    In spot duty McDaniel was outstanding, as he recorded a tackle and shared a sack with Paul Soliai.


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    Kevin Burnett — A

    Burnett wound up with a very quiet six tackles, but was a huge help in containing Seattle’s running game, which failed to get off the ground.

    Koa Misi — A

    Six tackles and a key tackle for a loss in the fourth quarter gives Koa Misi a huge A for a tremendous game.

    Karlos Dansby — A

    Dansby apparently intercepted my prayers that Notre Dame’s linebacker Manti T’eo slip to the Dolphins in round one, as he performed well by recording seven tackles, including one for a loss, helping to contain the Seahawks usually potent run defense.

    On second though, I’m still hoping the rest of the NFL is dumb enough to let T’eo slip to Miami, I’d take him in a heartbeat.


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    Sean Smith — B

    Smith at times was beat by his receiver, but Seattle didn’t get too many big pass plays on the Dolphins secondary. In fact it’s actually a good sign that Smith wound up with only three tackles, as the Seahawks never seemed to pick on him.

    Nolan Carroll — B

    Carroll was also decent in this game, and by recording only two tackles, it showed that the Seahawks apparently forgot he was on the field.

    R.J. Sanford — C

    Sanford was alright with his three tackles, however he did seem to get lost in coverage. I can’t blame him for Golden Tate’s great catch on him, you can’t cover a receiver any better without committing pass interference, and that call could’ve easily been an offensive pass interference.

    Jimmy Wilson — A

    Wilson doesn’t get the A because of his secondary play (which like the rest of the unit was decent), but rather his special teams play, mainly downing a punt at the Seahawks 10-yard line by catching it out of the air. Well done, Jimmy.

    Reshad Jones — A

    Let’s just say this: Jones’ performance has been so good the last two games that I will be cheering for his alma mater Georgia to beat Alabama next week in the SEC Championship game, followed by rooting for the ‘Dawgs in the National Championship game against Notre Dame (note: I’m doing that anyways because, it’s Saban and Alabama, then Notre Dame).

    Chris Clemons — B

    Clemons didn’t outshine his similar-named doppelanger that plays linebacker for the Seahawks, but he did do a decent job in the secondary like the rest of the unit.

Special Teams — B+

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    Overall Game Grade B

    Points off for this unit due to Leon Washington’s touchdown return in the fourth quarter, but other than that, everyone did their job.

    Dan Carpenter finally had a game-winning kick! That’s enough of a reason to celebrate!

    Fourth Quarter B

    Despite Miami’s kickoff unit’s best efforts, Leon Washington broke one for a 98-yard touchdown just seconds after the Dolphins tied the game up at 14-all. I stated that the team with the special teams touchdown would wind up coming away with the victory, and Seattle struck first in the category, which would give them the lead.

    However thanks to Miami’s offense and defense, Dan Carpenter had a chance to redeem the kickoff return as well as his season, and he did just that thanks to a game-winning field goal.

    Third Quarter A

    Special teams gave Miami their best play of the quarter, with Jimmy Wilson downing a punt inside Seattle’s own five-yard line.

    Second Quarter A

    Once again, a very uneventful quarter for Miami’s special teams, with only one fair-caught punt return, a kickoff, a kickoff return for a touchback, and no punts. Yawn.

    First Quarter — A

    Already three punts, with an average of 42.7 yards per punt.

Coaching — A

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    Overall Game Grade — A

    At times I thought they didn’t do a great job of adjusting, but you can’t make that judgement until you see the game as a whole.

    Looking at it as a whole, this coaching staff shined, calling a great game in the fourth quarter that put the Dolphins in the best position to win. They were prepared for anything Seattle threw at them, and the players wound up executing.

    Well done all around for the team and coaching staff, in what is likely their second-best overall game as a team.

    Fourth Quarter A

    This is how you adjust. The first defensive drive would end in a Seattle punt, thanks in part to Miami’s stout run defense. But when Miami was on offense, the ball was moving down the field. Great play-call on both the Marlon Moore reverse along with the Tannehill-to-Clay pass that would wind up tying the game.

    Offensive play-calling on the final drive was also great, and Tannehill’s development shined through by leading Miami on a game-winning drive. Kudos to offensive coordinator Mike Sherman for his continued development of Tannehill.

    Third Quarter D

    The difference between good coaches and bad coaches is at times shown in adjustments made. Seattle adjusted to Miami at halftime, Miami didn’t seem to do the same.

    Second Quarter — A-

    On offense the play-calling has been conservative for the most part, however it has worked well for the Dolphins, who got their first touchdown of the game on the ground. Defensively the Dolphins gave it just about everything they got, but on the final drive of the half were done in by the pressure on the quarterback not resulting in a sack, as well as a tremendous catch by Golden Tate. Can’t pin that on the coaching.

    First Quarter — B+

    I can’t complain about the coaching, as for the most part the plays called have been the right play. Tannehill’s interception was all on him, just a bad throw that shouldn’t have been made. Meanwhile whatever the defense is doing to neutralize Seattle’s running game is working very well so far.

Sprinklers — F

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    How does this happen? Seriously how do the sprinklers go off, in the middle of a football game? This only makes the Dolphins look even more bush-league. You know it's going to go viral, if it isn't already.

    That was an embarrassment.

    But, it was a rather light-hearted moment in a hard-fought game between two teams that looked like they were on the rise this afternoon. Yes, it's a staple of a bad sports movie, but when you do see it in a sports movie, you laugh.

    Just like you laughed seeing it this afternoon. Now Stephen Ross will have to do something about the sprinkler system's timing though, so the groundskeepers will likely have to have a meeting sometime this week about adjusting the timer.