The Dolphins found themselves at the end of the game clinging to a 7 point lead with 10 seconds to go and a 1st and goal for the 49ers leading 31-24.
As Dolphins fans on Twitter were screaming at the TV and posting their worst fears, Byron Maxwell climbed over Torrey Smith to knock the ball away. 10 seconds now down to 2 seconds and 2nd and goal.
With 2 seconds to go and quarterback Colin Kaepernick having led the 49ers back with three touchdowns, called his own number as Ndamukong Suh and Kiko Alonso converged-one after another for the game winning tackle at the 2 yard line.
That’s it. Game over and both Ryan Tannehill and Kiko Alonso greeted each other at midfield with euphoric looks on their faces and jubilation as they leaped in the air and collided falling down and laughing as Fox Sports cameras pulled away from the field.
The difference in the game was the Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill played a clean game behind a no-name offensive line missing three starters Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil, and Mike Pouncey. His numbers speak for themselves: 3 TDs, 285 yards and a quarterback rating 130.6 off of 20-30 throwing.
Tannehill from the second quarter onward fired three touchdown passes (16-43-15 yards) and well over 280 yards passing. It was by far, at least statistically his best game. He played an even better game playing behind a patchwork of an offensive line which did not become the storyline.
The storyline today is that the Dolphins truly did just enough to win.
They tackled just enough.
They covered just enough.
They placed just enough effort in reading and spying scrambling Colin Kaepernick who is far from the twilight of his career as evidenced by his performance 29-46, 296 yards, 3TDs, and 1 INT.
Don’t forget the impact of the offensive output as Kaepernick as a runner accounted for 113 yards on the ground. Overall, the 49ers looked like the offensive juggernaut that head coach Chip Kelly wished they’d be this season.
Instead, the 49ers fell short in their efforts and lost in the final seconds as they could have scored and went for the win with a two point conversion. The 49ers are now 1-10 and battling the Browns for the top pick of the draft.
Yes, the Dolphins did just enough to win and coach of the year candidate Adam Gase knows this, but he indicated in his post game comments that he had “respect” for the 49ers as a whole which is why they played the way they did.
What’s interesting is the 49ers defensive approach, placing 8-9 players in the box and playing to stop Jay Ajayi and make quarterback Ryan Tannehill beat them.
According to Gase in his post game comments this showed “disrespect” to the quarterback, Tannehill, who has been incredibly strong offensively despite a make-shift offensive line.
It’s too early to consider at this point that the Dolphins are playoff bound, but they certainly are close and need a lot of help with both Wild Card spots occupied by Denver and Kansas City as of right now.
At 7-4, this Dolphins team had to overcome adversity and prove the naysayers wrong after their poor start at 1-4.
Since then, after reeling off six wins in a row would have seemed improbable if not impossible, but now the question remains:
How many more wins can the Dolphins get with five games left against some tougher competition?
Up next week: a playoff type of game in Baltimore. A game Mike Wallace has had circled on his calendar for some time.
Maybe next week, the Dolphins put it all together and win seven in a row.
As Dolphins fans hold their collective breaths, head coach Adam Gase presses a button all to familiar with the season: reset.