- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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DAVIE, Fla. -- Perhaps the biggest question facing Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill this season is whether he's capable of taking over games, especially late in the fourth quarter. Making key drives in the second half and producing come-from-behind victories is not something we saw much of from Tannehill in his rookie year.
However, the light has come on quickly for Tannehill in Year 2. He has been locked in late in games, which was evident in Miami’s 27-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Tannehill was 9-of-12 passing on the final drive and threw the game-winning touchdown to rookie tight end Dion Sims with 38 seconds remaining. It was a major step forward in a big game for Miami’s young quarterback.
Tannehill is not surprised by his fourth-quarter success.
“I expect to be calm,” Tannehill said. “If you’re out there panicked, then you’re going to give panic to everyone else. You have to be in control of the situation, be confident in the guys you, and I think that was the biggest thing.”
The Dolphins are outscoring opponents 41-16 in the second half in the first three games. It’s one of the biggest reasons Miami (3-0) is undefeated heading into its huge game against the New Orleans Saints (3-0) on “Monday Night Football.” It’s been a combination of Tannehill leading the offense to touchdown drives and the defense making the proper adjustments at halftime to get key stops.
Thanks to Tannehill’s improvement, Miami also is getting more touchdowns than field goals. They are leading the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage and actually scored more points (74) than the high-powered Saints (70) through three games.
Tannehill has outdueled quarterbacks Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Matt Ryan of Falcons in back-to-back weeks. Next up is future Hall of Famer Drew Brees of the Saints on a national stage. Another win for Tannehill could really put the second-year quarterback on the map.
“It’s exciting,” Tannehill said. “I’ve never been a part of it obviously, so it’s something I’m looking forward to. It’s going to be a tough environment, especially a really deafening crowds in New Orleans. We’re going to have to be good, we’re going to have to be crisp with our communication, confident in what we do and just play our game.”