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Sunday, September 15, 2013
Dolphins, Tannehill putting NFL on notice

By James Walker


 
INDIANAPOLIS -- There are only a few undefeated teams remaining in the NFL after two weeks.

Surprisingly, the Miami Dolphins (2-0) are one of those teams.

The Dolphins began the season as an under-the-radar team, rarely mentioned as a legit threat in the AFC. But Miami put the league on notice Sunday with a 24-20 road victory over the Indianapolis Colts, a playoff team a year ago.

The Dolphins have won two road games to start the season, equaling their total of road victories from 2012. Miami beat the Colts at their own game, outlasting the hosts in their dome for four quarters. The Dolphins forced a key interception and a turnover on downs in the final minutes to seal the win.

Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill was an efficient 23-for-34 on Sunday against the Colts.
"From the moment we stepped on the field, there was a belief across the board that we can go out there and play with this team," Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake said. "We knew it wasn't going to be an [easy] kind of game. They're a good team and they're going to play hard.

"But coach told us before the game it might be one of those games that comes down to the offense needing to score or the defense needs to get a stop [late]. Lo and behold, it was."

Just as the Dolphins entered this season with little fanfare, the same can be said for their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, the forgotten member of the famed 2012 draft class. Tannehill started all 16 games last year but didn't get nearly the attention enjoyed by Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, who as rookies led their teams to the playoffs.

But Tannehill outplayed Luck on Sunday by making big throws in key moments. Tannehill was 23-for-34 for 319 yards, one touchdown and a 107.4 passer rating. Luck was 25-for-43 for 321 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 79.7 passer rating. It was arguably the biggest win of Tannehill's young career.

Tannehill didn't care much for the Luck comparisons after the game, but was happy about the team win for the Dolphins. More important for Miami, its confidence level continues to grow.

"It’s really satisfying," Tannehill said. "You see the team really come together and play as a team. It's a lot of fun, and it's great to be a part of it. ... I'm excited about being 2-0."

Are the Dolphins a playoff team? It's too early to say after just two weeks.

But you can tell at this point that these aren't your typical Dolphins. Those teams consistently lost on the road and got off to slow starts. Miami already cleared those hurdles in the first two games of the year.

Perhaps the most telling sign of a maturing team was Miami's even-keeled demeanor in the locker room. There was no excessive celebrating or chest-thumping after picking up a big win.

After improving to 2-0, will the Dolphins begin to earn league-wide respect?

"Time will tell. I really don't know," Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "Hopefully, [pundits] at least acknowledge us. I know we still got a lot to do. A 2-0 is a great start but we still got 14 games. We can't go 2-0 and drop 14 after that. So we got to keep our heads down and keep fighting until the end to see where we end up."