By Abe GutierrezREAD MORE: COVID In Florida: 5,520 New Cases, 9 Deaths Reported On Sunday
Once again led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill on offense and a gutsy goal-stand in the final ticks of the ballgame, the Miami Dolphins were able to hold off the San Francisco 49ers, 31-24, and extended their win streak to six games. The win improves the Dolphins record to 7-4 on the 2016 NFL season and this squad continues to state its case as legitimate playoff contenders in the AFC.
In the current AFC East standings, the Dolphins trail the (9-2) New England Patriots by two games. In the AFC Wild Card race, Miami is currently in the second Wild Card spot after the Chiefs beat the Broncos on Sunday Night Football.
Offensively, the Dolphins recorded 19 first downs, out of which, 12 were converted on passes, six on the ground and one thanks to a penalty. Miami also converted on half of their third down opportunities, as they went 6-for-12 on the afternoon.
All of that translates into 358 yards of total offense (263 passing, 95 rushing yards) on 58 plays (6.2 yards per play average) and 31 points on the board. With the Niners defense selling out on the run, quarterback Ryan Tannehill was once again forced to step up and make plays, and he did just that.
The Texas A&M product completed 20-of-30 pass attempts for 285 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions to earn an outstanding quarterback rating of 130.6. Tannehill also did a good job of not forcing things downfield, tucking it on six instances and rushing for 34 yards in the process, including a long of 17 yards.
Other offensive standouts included wide receivers Kenny Stills (3 receptions, 72 yards, 1 TD), DeVante Parker (3 receptions, 64 yards), Leonte Carroo (1 reception, 15 yards, 1 TD) and tight end Dion Sims (4 receptions, 53 yards, 1 TD) was perfect on the afternoon. In the rushing game, running back Jay Ajayi (18 carries, 45 yards, 1 TD) was Miami’s leading rusher, followed by the aforementioned Tannehill finishing a close second.
On the defensive side of the football, the Dolphins allowed 25 first downs: 15 through the air, nine on the ground and one via penalty. They also allowed quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Niners to convert on 7-of-14 third down situations and both fourth down attempts.READ MORE: Former President Trump Targets McConnell, Pence During Speech To GOP Donors
In total, Miami’s defense surrendered 475 yards of total offense. 282 yards were gained through the air and a whopping 193 yards were collected by San Francisco’s rushing attack.
Much like the rest of the league, Miami’s defense struggled to contain the 49ers’ rushing attack, which ranks fourth in the National Football League. Nevertheless, this unit stepped up when it mattered most and kept Kaepernick and the Niners out of the end zone on the final play of the game in what was a very dramatic finish.
Defensive standouts for the Dolphins on the afternoon included linebacker Kiko Alonso (12 tackles, 1 INT), defensive ends Cameron Wake (3 tackles, 1 sack) and Andre Branch (5 tackles, a sack) and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (7 tackles).
Special Teams: A-
Miami’s special teams unit was solid yet again, with the exception of a play in the first half that pinned the ‘Fins deep in their own territory. However, that mishap was erased thanks to the play of kick returner Kenyan Drake, who tallied 99 yards on two returns, including an electric 78-yarder that he almost took to the house.
Speaking of kicks, Miami’s kicker Andrew Franks was flawless on the afternoon, converting on his only field-goal try of the day (24 yards) and going 4-for-4 on extra-point opportunities. The Dolphins punter booted the rock five times on the afternoon for an average of 42 yards and had one touchback, one placed inside the Niners’ 20-yard line and a long punt of 53 yards.
Head coach Adam Gase and his coaching staff will certainly catch some heat following this game, and with good reason. After calling a terrific game for the majority of the match-up, things got a little strange at the end.
Nursing a seven-point lead with less than two minutes to play, Gase decided to throw the football instead of pounding the rock and forcing the Niners to burn their timeouts. This led to Kaepernick & Co. having enough time to drive down the field all the way down to the 2-yard line, which led to that dramatic defensive stand as the clock expired.
Next Up: Dolphins travel to Baltimore to face RavensMORE NEWS: ‘Work Gyms’ Helping Remote Employees Be More Productive
Looking to make it seven straight victories, the Miami Dolphins will travel to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland to take on a tough Ravens ball club that’s won three of their last four contests. Opening kick-off is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET and it will be broadcast live on CBS Sports.