Monday, October 1, 2012

Plethora of positives still translate to Dolphins loss


By nearly every measure, the Miami Dolphins out-played the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals on the road Sunday. But, as has been the case in Miami's other two losses of this season, poorly timed mistakes doomed the upstart Dolphins as they suffered a 24-21 overtime loss.

Seventeen of the Cardinals' 24 total points came off either a Ryan Tannehill turnover or a missed field goal. Arizona picked off two passes and recovered two fumbles, which gave the Cardinals the opportunities they needed to win despite a historic passing performance by Tannehill.

Tannehill completed 26-of-41 passes and threw for one touchdown, and his 431 passing yards were the most ever by a Dolphin not named Dan Marino, and he set the franchise record for a rookie. The total is also good for the fifth most passing yards by a rookie in NFL history.

But Tannehill wasn't the only Dolphin who etched his name in the record books in this game.

Brian Hartline broke the franchise mark for receiving yards in a game with 253 on 12 receptions, and his 80-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was the Dolphins' longest play since 2008.

Cameron Wake also set the Dolphins' single-game sack record with 4.5 QB takedowns, which were also his first sacks of the 2012 season. Sean Smith drew the tough assignment of mirroring all-World wideout Larry Fitzgerald and responded with two interceptions.

For those who have already written off the season to rebuilding, there was much to be encouraged about on the day.

Miami also comfortably outgained Arizona in total yards 480-to-297 and held the time-of-possession advantage. The Dolphins' run defense turned in another stellar performance, limiting the Cardinals to 28 yards. Tannehill also showed good poise on third down early on, converting 4-of-6 third downs of 6 yards or more in the first half.

But on a day where the Dolphins did almost everything well, it was the turnovers that did them in.

The most costly giveaway was an overtime interception to Arizona safety Kerry Rhodes. Tannehill's downfield throw was altered by a Paris Lenon hit and floated into Rhodes' waiting arms, and Arizona only needed a single first down to get close enough for the game-winner.

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