Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins' final drive of the game was a microcosm of the team's offensive troubles on the day. It featured: zero attempts to run the football, questionable play-calling, heroic efforts by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, poor pass protection and a pair of drops.
On first down, Tannehill dropped back to pass and attempted to hit Mike Wallace on a post pattern as he crossed between zones. The offensive line was not able to hold its blocks, and Tannehill was forced to throw the football before Wallace's speed could open up an angle beyond the corner and underneath the safety.
As he was hit in the legs, he threw the ball the only safe place he could. Because of the pressured timing, Wallace was not there yet.
On second down, Wallace ran an in-breaking route underneath zone coverage. Television analyst Rich Gannon pointed out upon review that Wallace most likely should have stopped his cut and begun working back to the outside due to a linebacker playing zone right in Wallace's path.
Tannehill clearly threw the football with that expectation in mind, but Wallace did not execute the route. The result was Wallace dropping the football as it was thrown behind him.
The ensuing 3rd-and-10 put the offense under tremendous strain due to the situation, and it showed.
Tight end Charles Clay ran a route against the coverage of linebacker Daryl Smith, who used the knowledge that Clay could not come back to the football and risk being stopped short of the first down marker to stay tight and undercut the throw. Smith was able to break up the pass.
The following 4th-and-10 featured a play that would have run across most television highlight-reel compilations for the entire week had the Dolphins managed to capitalize on the play by tying or winning the game. The play should be etched in the minds of Dolphins fans, despite the disappointing outcome.
Left tackle Jonathan Martin was bowled over in pass protection by Ravens defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who was nearly able to sack Tannehill. He failed to do so. Tannehill spun out and scrambled to his left. As he scrambled, he found receiver Brandon Gibson for a 46-yard gain that turned an impossible situation into the field position needed for a potential 51-yard, game-tying field goal.
With a full minute remaining on the scoreboard and no timeouts, the coaches made the decision to signal that Tannehill should spike the football on first down instead of executing another play.
The decision was a questionable one, and it proved costly.
On the next second down, Tannehill once again succumbed to the pressure of poor offensive line protection. Right tackle Tyson Clabo allowed Dumervil to pull the quarterback down for a loss. The offense had been in position for a makeable 51-yard field goal attempt. After the sack, the field-goal attempt would have to come from 57 yards out.
Figuring his offense needed enough yards to give the team's place-kicker a realistic chance at a game-tying field goal, Tannehill threw the football underneath the coverage on 3rd-and-17 to tight end Charles Clay. The play had the potential to earn the offense about six more yards, which could have made all the difference for the following field goal.
Clay dropped the ball.
Overall, the drive exemplified the alternating moments of frustration and joy felt by fans as they watched the offense flash potential against the Ravens and follow it up with poor execution.