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Ryan Tannehill's two-minute dominance the difference vs. Patriots

Posted by Erik Frenz  December 15, 2013 11:41 PM

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(AP Photo/John Raoux)
In a way, the words of Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline were prophetic.

"I think he is doing a great job in two minute situations," said Hartline of quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Wednesday. "He is doing a great job at commanding the offense which we kind of see on the inside."

We've seen it plenty of times from Tannehill already this season, and the Patriots got a first-hand look at Tannehill's two-minute mastery on Sunday.

He led the Dolphins to a touchdown in the final two minutes of each half, and capped both off with a touchdown pass. The first was a 39-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Mike Wallace to cap off an 82-yard touchdown drive. The second was a 14-yard reception by running back Marcus Thigpen that ended the Dolphins' 60-yard game-winning touchdown drive.

The Patriots have made a living out of gutting out wins in the fourth quarter this season, but on Sunday, it was Tannehill coming through in the clutch.

We expect veteran moxie like that from Tom Brady, but the second-year quarterback Tannehill has led his team to a league-leading 17 scoring drives that started in the final five minutes of a half this season (41 percent of all such possessions), and eight scoring drives that started in the final two minutes of a half (36 percent).

Being in that situation so many times this year has helped the Dolphins be ready when it comes up.

"I feel great in two-minute [offense]," Tannehill said after the game. "We've had a lot of practice at it, going back to OTAs, throughout camp, and throughout this season. I think we've scored a lot of points in two-minute situations. We expect to score, to some extent -- either a field goal or a touchdown -- every time we get in a two-minute situation."

Tannehill shined in those two-minute situations on Sunday, but he shined in the other 56 minutes of action, as well. He finished 25-of-37 (67.6 percent) for 312 yards (8.4 YPA) and three touchdowns. His 120.6 passer rating was the second-highest of his career.

But the stats only tell part of the story. The plays Tannehill made on the field tell the rest of the story. In that sense, the back-shoulder throw to wide receiver Rishard Matthews down the sideline told the story of a quarterback who has grown up faster than at least a couple of his rookie quarterback classmates of 2012.

Tannehill's performance stands on its own, but it gave the Dolphins a taste of some things they haven't experienced in years. Not only did the Dolphins earn their first win over the Patriots since 2009 (seven games), but they also earned their first season of eight-plus wins since 2008.

The Dolphins are finally making progress, and it's thanks in large part to their quarterback, who continually answers the bell when it's all on the line.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »


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