In the big picture, the Dolphins on Sunday showed they are truly a resilient bunch in answering the challenge of breaking a losing skid rather than letting it break them, of beating a pretty good team,and of doing it in comeback fashion.
For the team this was a great way to keep the season alive.
By the way, I call these guys the Zombie Dolphins. They refuse to die.
But there's a bigger picture with the Dolphins. And Sunday the picture got some focus and some much needed color.
This Dolphins season, no matter what anyone says, is about Ryan Tannehill and his development.
And what we saw Sunday was a big step of development for the rookie quarterback.
Tannehill authored his first fourth-quarter comeback victory in the NFL. That's important. Great quarterbacks must be able to accomplish this feat to be, well, great.
Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, John Elway, Joe Montana, all the others made their reputations on bringing their teams back from the brink of defeat and delivering a victory. The only reason people believe Eli Manning is elite is because he did this in two Super Bowl wins.
The comback victory, the heroic rally is one of the benchmark traits of a great quarterback.
“We told these guys all along, and I think it’s true, not just in our case – these games in the NFL are usually tight, they’re close, oftentimes it comes down to the last possession, and you need to execute well," Coach Joe Philbin said. "You need to win some games like this. I think it’s important for a quarterback to do that. Any quarterback – Ryan Tannehill, certainly. Any quarterback in this league has to demonstrate the ability to do this.”
And until Sunday, Tannehill had failed multiple times at delivering even one comeback victory. Even against Buffalo the last game, Tannehill had not one, but two opportunities to deliver a comeback drive that would have won the game.
He threw an interception to end each drive.
So this was a huge step in development for Miami's current and future quarterback.
"It’s huge," Tannehill said. "We’ve had a couple situations this year where we had a chance to do it and we weren’t able to do it. To finally go out and execute it and come away with a win, it feels great."
Now, was it a totally pristine moment?
Tannehill did throw perhaps the dumbest pass of his season on one of those touchdown drives that tied the game at 14. He threw a pass across his body, into the end zone, almost blindly, and the ball was picked off.
If that interception had stood, the Dolphins would probably have lost. And this blog today would be discussing how Tannehill fell short of authoring that much-needed comeback.
But Seattle safety Earl Thomas was flagged for roughing Tannehill on the throw and the interception was nullified.
"That was just a bad play and, as soon as I let it go, I knew it was a bad play before he had even intercepted it," Tannehill said. "The Good Lord was looking out for me today and got it called back."
It doesn't matter that the call was controversial. What matters is that Tannehill learns not to throw that pass ever again.
And what matters more is that Tannehill now knows he's capable of leading his team to a big comeback win against a good defense. And that his teammates know it also.
Big deal. Really big.