By David Dwork

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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins were hoping that quarterback Ryan Tannehill would be healthy enough to play in the team’s Wild Card playoff game on Sunday.

Those hopes came crashing down to earth on Thursday as a league source confirmed that Tannehill would be ruled out by the Dolphins.

That means backup quarterback Matt Moore will start his fourth consecutive game.

Moore has filled in quite nicely for Tannehill, winning two of three games and helping Miami clinch its first playoff spot since 2008.

In a little more than three games, Moore has thrown eight touchdowns and three interceptions for an impressive quarterback rating of 105.6.

Moore is one of the few Dolphins players with NFL playoff experience.  He was on the 2008 Carolina Panthers team that was the NFC South, though he didn’t play in their postseason loss to Arizona.

Still, he understands what it means to make it past Week 17.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Moore said on Wednesday. “There are a lot of guys, Some guys go a lot and some don’t get those chances. This is my second time ever being a part of a team that has gone to the playoffs, so I’m excited. I know the guys are excited. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and a great football town, so we’re ready to go.”

Tannehill was having perhaps his best season as a pro under new Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, posting a career high 93.5 quarterback rating while throwing for 2,995 yards and 19 touchdowns in 13 games.

The fifth year quarterback was hoping to practice this week but the sprained ACL and MCL in his left knee just weren’t healing quickly enough.

“Every day, we keep seeing improvement. It’s going to be more about, ‘Where’s his movement at?’ Every day it gets a little bit better,” Gase said on Wednesday. “We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing with him, and we’ll make a decision on [Thursday] as far as what we’re going to do at practice.”

It didn’t take long on Thursday for that decision to be made, and it was for Tannehill to remain sidelined.

Whether the team thinks Tannehill could potentially return for a game next weekend in New England has yet to be determined.  First the team must win in Pittsburgh before that scenario can be discussed.

The decision didn’t come easily for Gase, who has worked with the quarterbacks on a daily basis and knows how badly Tannehill wants to play.

“He’s frustrated, because he wants to try to help. He wants to do anything he can to be a part of this,” Gase said. “But at the same time, I have to be smart with what we’re doing moving forward. I don’t want any setbacks. I don’t want to jeopardize – whether it be – his career, next season, put him in a position to where he can’t defend himself on the field against a defense that’s playing really well right now. We have to be smart as an organization.”


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