Full disclosure - I don't want to write this post. The Miami Dolphins' loss to the Arizona Cardinals yesterday was tough. Two straight overtime losses in two straight games in which the Dolphins dominated, is tough. I know positive things came out of yesterday's game, but how many times are we going to look for positives out of another game the team should have won but didn't?
And, I know, it's a young team, and we all acknowledge that this is a rebuilding team, but when you are so close to knocking off your most hated rival and an undefeated team, you have to feel the pain of the loss. Right?
So, that pain makes writing this hard. I want to just pretend yesterday didn't happen. But, there really was a lot of positives to come out of the game yesterday, and it's those positives that make the future of the Dolphins brighter.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill was amazing yesterday. He was not amazing on just the rookie idea of what he should be. He was simply amazing. Tannehill set the Dolphins' rookie single game passing yardage record yesterday, throwing for 431 yards, which is one yard short of the NFL's mark set by Cam Newton last year. Tannehill also set the rookie single game team record for completions, with 26.
Through Sunday night's game, Tannehill had the second highest passing yardage for the week, only behind Drew Brees' 446 yards.
Of course, he had some rookie moments. He threw two interceptions on the day. He also fumbled a ball away late in the fourth quarter on the drive that would have killed the clock and won the game for the Dolphins. Instead, the Cardinals got the ball back, drove for the game tying touchdown to send the game into overtime.
The Dolphins, who all preseason were said to have the worst receiving corps in the league, had two wide outs step up and make an impact yesterday. Brian Hartline set the franchise mark in receiving yards with 253, which currently lead's the NFL's Week 4 receiving stats by nearly 100 yards. The total also makes Hartline the leading receiver in the league with 455 on the season.
Behind Hartline, Davone Bess topped 100 yards as well, finishing the game with a career high 123 yards. That makes Bess the sixth highest receiving yards on the week so far, and 15th on the season.
Running back Reggie Bush was clearly hampered by the knee injury he suffered last week, carrying the ball 17 times for just 67 yards. However, he is still the fifth leading rusher in the league.
Rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane, meanwhile, scored a touchdown for the second straight game.
The Miami defense clearly came to dominate the Cardinals this week. Kevin Burnett led the team with eight tackles. But, the story of the defense was the pressure they kept on Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb all day. The team recorded eight total sacks on the day, led by 4.5 sacks from Cameron Wake, a career high from the defensive end. It also marked Wake's seventh multi-sack game in his career. Wake's 4.5 sacks in a game are tied for the second highest total in team history, and gives him 32.5 sacks in his four seasons with the Dolphins, tying him with Trace Armstrong for the most sacks in their first four years with the team.
Linebacker Koa Misi added 1.5 sacks of his own, his first multi-sack game of his career.
Cornerback Sean Smith recorded his first career multi-interception game as well, picking off two Kevin Kolb passes, including one in the endzone. The interceptions were the first two thrown by Kolb this season.
Miami also ended the Cardinals' run of not allowing a team more than two touchdowns over their past 12 teams, stretching back into last season. Arizona also had not allowed a rushing touchdown this season, until Lane ended up in the end zone.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, have now gone 18 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.
So, even though the pain sucks, and losing sucks, there really are a lot of positives that came out of yesterday's contest. Now, the Dolphins just need to find a way to put teams away and turn dominating performances into wins.