Excitement. Exuberance. Elation.
All were emotions felt by Dolphins fans before, during, and after the team's final march down the field in the waning moments to take the lead over the favored Falcons on Sunday. In a scene sparingly witnessed in South Florida in recent years, the Dolphins were willed to victory by the arm of their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill and the Dolphins offense took over at its own 25-yard line down three points with 4:46 left in the fourth quarter, and went 75 yards in 13 plays on a drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dion Sims that put Miami up for good. Moreover, the drive left just 38 seconds on the clock for which the Falcons to mount their response, which fell short when Jimmy Wilson intercepted Matt Ryan.
Tannehill completed 9-of-12 passes for 69 yards on the drive, with six different Dolphins receivers catching passes. Remarkably, neither of Miami's leading wide receivers Mike Wallace or Brian Hartline were so much as targeted on the possession. Little-used role players Sims, Rishard Matthews and Michael Egnew make key receptions to help lead the Dolphins to victory.
The poise, confidence and command that Miami's franchise quarterback displayed during the game-winning drive was what made the performance truly special.
"He told us on the last drive, it doesn’t matter what you've done up to this point, the only things that matters is the last drive of the game and we went down and scored a touchdown," center Mike Pouncey said, according to the Miami Herald. "It just goes to show his leadership and his will to win the game, and we did it."
"He was calm. You could tell that he expected to go down and score a touchdown," tackle Tyson Clabo added. "There was no panic, nothing. He just said lets go down and score a touchdown and we did. I don’t think there was any doubt in anyone’s mind.
"It was pretty special."
Special indeed. Miami is now 3-0, and for the first time in a while, a Dolphins team is winning games because of its quarterback, not despite it.