MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - The stadium shook with a roar as Ryan
Tannehill skipped across the field pumping his arms in glee, the Miami
Dolphins' comeback complete.
Tannehill was celebrating his 1-yard
touchdown pass with 38 seconds left to rookie Dion Sims, who made a
one-handed catch to help the unbeaten Dolphins rally past the Atlanta
The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive after
Atlanta's Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard field goal attempt with 4:46
left. Jimmy Wilson intercepted Matt Ryan in Falcons territory to seal
BOX SCORE: Dolphins 27, Falcons 23
AFC EAST: Patriots remain unbeaten too
have a special team, a team with a lot of talent," receiver Brian
Hartline said. "We're going to continue to improve. The sky's the
Miami fell behind 10-0 and 20-10 and trailed much of the
game, but nonetheless improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. The
injury-plagued Falcons, who were one play from the Super Bowl last
season, fell to 1-2.
An enthusiastic crowd of 70,660 reflected the
buzz building about the surprising Dolphins, who are trying to end a
streak of four consecutive losing seasons.
"We've got a damned good football team," owner Stephen Ross said. "The quarterback is maturing."
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last-minute comeback victory was the first for Miami's second-year
quarterback. Tannehill finished 24-for-35 for 236 yards and two scores.
He shook off two turnovers and five sacks, and was at his best at the
end of each half.
On the final drive, Tannehill went 8-for-11 for
69 yards, with two of the incompletions because of dropped passes. The
winner came on second down, when Tannehill lobbed his throw over
linebacker Stephen Nicholas to Sims, a backup tight end.
scored his first NFL touchdown by pulling the ball in with his left hand
because his right arm was tangled up with Nicholas.
"It was awesome. It was amazing," Sims said. "The defender grabbed one hand, so I had no choice but to use the other one."
Tannehill suggested the play to his coaches during a timeout just beforehand.
a play we know very well," he said. "It's either going to be a
touchdown or a throwaway. We had a lot of confidence in that play."
other scoring pass was an 18-yarder to Hartline to make it 20-20 late
in the third quarter. Tannehill also moved Miami 60 yards in the final
2:04 of the first half for a field goal on the final play.
The victory allowed Miami to keep pace with New England atop the AFC East.
was a good step forward," Hartline said. "Expectations will continue to
rise, and high expectations bring out the best in you. We welcome it."
Falcons believe they could be special, too, but they lost despite
advantages of 24-16 in first downs, 377-285 in yards and 5-0 in sacks.
was a game where we had a ton of opportunities," coach Mike Smith said.
"We need to be more efficient in the red zone on both sides of the
ball. We had way too many field goals."
Bryant finished 3-for-4.
Ryan threw for 231 yards, and in the absence of Steven Jackson one of
several sidelined Falcons Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling combined
for 139 yards rushing.
Lamar Miller had a 49-yard run to set up
the Dolphins' first touchdown, but they generated little running attack
otherwise. Special teams made a pivotal contribution when rookie Don
Jones' jarring tackle on punt returner Harry Douglas forced a fumble the
Dolphins recovered to set up a touchdown.
"That was the biggest play of the game," Miami receiver Mike Wallace said.
Dolphins lost defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) and linebacker Koa Misi
(shoulder) to injuries, but the defense dug in after a slow start.
Consecutive possessions by Atlanta in the second half netted a total of
10 yards, which allowed the Dolphins to rally.
"Guys had to step
up," said first-round draft pick Dion Jordan, who came off the bench to
see his most extensive action of the season. "We stuck together and it
came up big."
The Falcons scored on their first three series, and
at one point the Dolphins trailed in total yards by 127-3. Atlanta had
the ball for nearly 23 minutes in the first half but was up only 13-10
Ryan led drives of 14, 11 and 13 plays on the
Falcons' first three possessions, but twice they stalled and settled for
"We had a lot of opportunities to finish the game,"
Ryan said. "We just didn't get it done in the red zone. We have to find a
way to punch it in."
NOTES: The Dolphins have scored at
least 20 points in each game, the first time they've done that since
2002. ... Atlanta's Matt Bosher, leading the league in punting, averaged
33.0 yards on two kicks. ... Osi Umenyiora had his first two sacks for
Atlanta. ... Miami rookie Caleb Sturgis kicked field goals of 46 and 50
yards and is 6-for-6 this year.
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