|DE Olivier Vernon sacks Sam Bradford in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins' 17-14 win. (US Presswire)|
Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes and posted a season-high passer rating of 112.0 on Sunday as the host Dolphins beat the Rams 17-14 in a matchup of much-improved teams.
St. Louis had given up two TD passes, total, in its previous five games.
Both teams are 3-3 after a slugfest that wasn’t decided until Greg Zuerlein’s missed 66-yard field goal attempt at the buzzer.
The Dolphins made several big plays on special teams. They recovered a fumble on a Rams kickoff return, faked a punt to earn a key first down, and pinned St. Louis at its 6-yard line to start the final drive.
Special teams and timely defensive plays enabled Miami to win despite rushing for 19 yards and being outgained 462-192 overall.
When the game turned: Down 17-14, St. Louis faced 3rd-and-4 at the Miami 45 inside the final minute. QB Sam Bradford couldn’t find anyone and was sacked by Olivier Vernon for a 3-yard loss. Instead of moving into easy field-goal range, the Rams had to choose between going for it on 4th-and-7 or trying a 66-yarder. Zuerlein had the distance, but it sailed wide left.
Highlight moments: Miami WR Marlon Moore ran by rookie CB Janoris Jenkins, who was caught looking in the backfield, and hauled in a 29-yard TD to make it 7-6 Miami. … The Dolphins’ Jimmy Wilson jarred the ball loose from Brit Miller on the ensuing kickoff return, leading to a field goal and a 10-6 lead. … WR Brandon Gibson made a ridiculous one-handed 22-yard catch on St. Louis’ last-ditch drive. … On 4th down, Bradford reached the ball over the goal line while getting pummeled by LB Karlos Dansby. Bradford bobbled the ball but held on for a TD.
• Miami S Chris Clemons – 10 tackles, tackle for loss
• Tannehill – 21 of 29, 185 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
• Vernon – 2 sacks, 3 QB hits, 4 tackles
• Rams RB Daryl Richardson – 11 carries, 76 yards, 2 catches, 23 yards
• Bradford – 26 of 39, 315 yards
• LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar – Sack, 5 tackles, QB hit
Injury update: Vernon left with an ankle injury following a kickoff return, but returned after missing a few series. He finished with two sacks and three QB hits.
Numbers you should know: Dolphins DE Cameron Wake has 6.5 sacks in his last three games after getting one Sunday. … Tannehill has not thrown an INT in the last two games, both wins. … Rams RB Steven Jackson, who ran for 52 yards on 12 carries, passed Hall-of-Famer Earl Campbell for 29th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list. … St. Louis fell to 0-3 on the road compared to 3-0 at home. … Zuerlein was 15 of 15 on FG tries after making his first two Sunday; he missed his last three, from 52, 37 and 66 yards. … Richardson’s 44-yard run was the longest against Miami this season.
Going forward: Miami enters its off week on a two-game win streak. The Dolphins visit the Jets and Indianapolis in Weeks 8 and 9.
St. Louis hosts Green Bay next Sunday before traveling to London to face New England. The Rams will be fortunate to enter the off-week at 4-4.
Get more Rams updates and analysis from Larry Hartstein @CBSRams.