Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had one of his stronger games of the year against the Cincinnati Bengals, completing 20 of 28 passes for 208 yards. He did not throw any touchdowns, but neither did he throw any interceptions, either. He did score a rushing touchdown off a quarterback sneak in the second quarter. He added three more sacks to his sack total for the year, though he likely caught a break as All Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins left the game early with a torn ACL.
Of the eight incomplete passes, several had the look of chemistry issues with newer wide receivers the Dolphins have been forced to use since the injury of slot receiver Brandon Gibson. Tannehill missed one connection with return specialist Marcus Thigpen and two with elevated slot receiver Rishard Matthews. He threw another ball into a vacant area of the football field while under heavy duress in the pocket.
He hit Mike Wallace on a slant, but the coverage was tight, and Wallace could not haul the football in while being physically challenged. He also hit Brian Hartline perfectly on a hitch pattern in the fourth quarter, but Hartline was being interfered with by Bengals corner Adam Jones, and as a result, Hartline was not able to get his hands up to catch the football.
His most costly incomplete pass of the evening came during the overtime period on a controversial 3rd-and-1 play call. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman inexplicably called for a shotgun pass attempt on the down instead of a run play. Tannehill was charged with hitting Hartline on the quick slant.
In order to clear out the passing lane, tight end Charles Clay was to run a quick pattern into the flat, bringing strong safety George Iloka with him in man coverage. The problem is, instead of getting out into the flat quickly so that Tannehill could hit Hartline quickly, Clay ran vertically up the field and gave Iloka a shoulder fake before breaking to the outside.
Clay’s lack of urgency froze Iloka directly in the passing lane Tannehill was attempting to hit with Hartline, causing Ryan to pump the football instead of hitting the pass quickly. By the time he re-cocked his arm and was able to finally throw it to Hartline, Bengals corner Adam Jones was able to recover lost ground against Hartline and knock down the pass.
On the other hand during the same overtime period, Tannehill made an excellent play that resulted in a defensive pass interference call in favor of Miami. He recognized an aggressive Cover 1 look from the Bengals defense and optioned into a play that featured three verticals with max protect in the backfield. Tannehill then used his eyes to draw the center-fielder toward Brian Hartline to Ryan’s left, rather than the true deep threat, Mike Wallace, to Tannehill’s right.
Tannehill clicked back over to Wallace and threw a perfectly on-target deep ball that Wallace would have likely been able to catch in stride for a long, game-winning touchdown. Bengals corner Terrance Newman made an extremely savvy, veteran move choosing to interfere with Wallace at midfield and take the spot foul rather than allow Wallace to streak into the end zone for the game-winner.
Tannehill also deserves massive credit for his work in the one-minute drill just before the end of regulation. Faced with a three-point deficit and only 1:18 on the game clock, at his own 24-yard line with no timeouts at his disposal, Tannehill calmly directed the offense 50 yards down the field for a game-tying 44-yard field goal.
Tannehill showed an excellent understanding of knew when he could use the middle of the field and when he needed to steer toward the sidelines on the drive. He also caught the Bengals defense trying to line up and quick-snapped a pass to Mike Wallace which gave the Dolphins five yards while stopping the clock. His accuracy was pinpoint and his management of the game was at its best.
Position Grade: B+