Sub QB, rookie kicker get it done, beat Bears 31-28

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Joe Schad Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

The Dol­phins played a piv­otal early-sea­son game without quar­ter­back Ryan Tan­nehill against the Bears Sun­day at Hard Rock Sta­dium.

Mi­ami turned to much-ma­ligned Brock Osweiler, who played a sta­ble first half be­fore show­ing glimpses of Bad Brock early in the sec­ond half and then turn­ing in a thrilling fourth-quar­ter and over­time per­for­mance in a stun­ning 31-28 vic­tory.

The win — com­ing on a 47-yard field goal by rookie Jason San­ders on the fi­nal play of over­time — gave the Dol­phins a 4-2 record and snapped a two-game los­ing streak.

“You know, to­day felt like a heavy­weight ti­tle fight. It re­ally did,” Osweiler said. “Noth­ing about this foot­ball game was per­fect but we con­tin­ued to fight. We con­tin­ued to fight through the ad­ver­sity. I threw two in­ter

cep­tions and no one blinked an eye. We just went back to work.”

The Mi­ami de­fense, de­spite a slew of key in­juries, was ef­fec­tive against Mitch Tru­bisky and the Bears (3-2) in the first half, be­fore tir­ing some­what in the sec­ond and in OT. One thing that may keep Mi­ami in games all sea­son is a new-found abil­ity to turn over the op­po­nent in­side their own red zone.

Go­ing in for the game-win­ning touch­down in over­time, Dol­phins run­ning back Kenyan Drake fum­bled at the goal line. Drake was be­side him­self on the Mi­ami

side­line, towel draped over his head.

But Bears kicker and ex-Dol­phin Cody Parkey of Jupiter missed a chance to win it. And San­ders didn’t.

Here are our in­stant takeaways:

1. Osweiler is on a fas­ci­nat­ing roller-coaster ride. At times, Osweiler shows off a strong arm. At times, he throws a re­ally catch­able ball. At times, he’s way off the mark. And at his worst, Osweiler was throw­ing an in­ter­cep­tion nearly re­turned for a touch­down. That’s ex­actly what hap­pened at the start of the third quar­ter, when a 7-0 lead quickly flipped into a 14-7 deficit af­ter Kyle Fuller in­ter­cepted Osweiler for a sec­ond time. Osweiler’s passer rat­ing has an un­canny abil­ity to flip from more than 100 to un­der 50 in a mat­ter of min­utes. Osweiler al­ways seems so poised, but then morphs in volatile fash­ion in sud­den, un­ex­pected turns of events. Then, just as quickly, he leads a long drive and con­verts a 2-point con­ver­sion to tie the score at 21. Then he hits Al­bert Wil­son for two touch­downs in the fourth quar­ter and brings his passer rat­ing back near 100. Well, it’s not bor­ing.

2. The cor­ner op­po­site Xavien Howard was an is­sue. Teams fac­ing the Dol­phins have prac­ti­cally given up on throw­ing in the direc­tion of Howard, who is play­ing at a Pro Bowl level. But Mi­ami misses in­jured out­side cor­ner Bobby McCain. He was ini­tially ex­pected to miss at least two weeks, so Mi­ami kept him on sched­ule. For­mer un­drafted free agent Torry McTyer had a solid tackle on Sun­day, but was beaten down field a few times. He didn’t show enough speed and didn’t get his head turned around quickly enough. Af­ter one par­tic­u­lar deep pass, Cor­drea Tanker­s­ley, who had been buried af­ter a start­ing role last sea­son, re­placed him in the lineup.

3. Nick O’Leary has quickly carved out a role on the Dol­phins. O’Leary came to the Dol­phins with the rep­u­ta­tion as a solid blocker. But on Sun­day, the tight end and Dwyer grad­u­ate showed an abil­ity to get open and to catch. O’Leary’s touch­down re­cep­tion gave Mi­ami a 7-0 lead in the first quar­ter. And he ran open many other times. It says some­thing that O’Leary has jumped off Mi­ami’s prac­tice squad and made a big­ger im­pact than sec­ond- and fourth-round draft choices Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe. But O’Leary was an ac­com­plished player at Florida State and has some valu­able NFL ex­pe­ri­ence. His tough­ness and pro­fes­sion­al­ism are as­sets. O’Leary’s con­tri­bu­tions as a blocker also helped Mi­ami’s of­fen­sive line, which should be com­mended for not al­low­ing a sack on Sun­day.

4. Kiko Alonso is in­volved in so many turnovers. With the game on the line, and Chicago driv­ing to win in the fourth quar­ter, the Dol­phins line­backer forced Bears run­ning back Tarik Cohen to fum­ble and Howard re­cov­ered. Ear­lier in the game, Robert Quinn forced a fum­ble at Mi­ami’s goal line and Alonso re­cov­ered. Mi­ami safety T.J. Mc­Don­ald had an in­ter­cep­tion in his own end zone. Even when the Dol­phins de­fense bends, which it of­ten has this sea­son, it is bailed out by turnovers. Mi­ami en­tered the game lead­ing the NFL in in­ter­cep­tions. And on Sun­day, the Dol­phins de­fend­ers showed off.

5. Mi­ami’s de­fen­sive front must be ex­hausted. De­fen­sive end Jonathan Woodard had his first NFL sack, but soon went out with a con­cus­sion. This left the Dol­phins with three healthy de­fen­sive ends. Robert Quinn re­ceived med­i­cal at­ten­tion dur­ing the game. An­dre Branch is play­ing through a knee in­jury. Cameron Malveaux was re­cently on the Dol­phins’ prac­tice squad. Charles Har­ris sur­pris­ingly popped up on the in­jury re­port Fri­day and was scratched. The Dol­phins did not get out­stand­ing pres­sure on Tru­bisky. In­juries to Wake, Branch, Har­ris, Wil­liam Hayes and the re­lease of Jor­dan Phillips have put Mi­ami in a pre­car­i­ous spot.


Dol­phins kicker Jason San­ders (7) and holder Matt Haack (2) cel­e­brate San­ders’ game-win­ning field goal at the end of over­time Sun­day as Laud­erdale Lakes-Boyd An­der­son prod­uct Ed­die Jack­son, a Bears safety, walks off.


Mi­ami cor­ner­back Torry McTyer (24) cel­e­brates a stop of Chicago Bears wide re­ceiver Tay­lor Gabriel (18) dur­ing the Dol­phins’ OT vic­tory.

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