If you're wondering what I think about the Dolphins beating of Atlanta and remaining in the ranks of the undefeated, here it is in all its glorious prose. I give it to you straight -- good and bad -- and, yes, there is a twist in that combination.
If you're wondering what everyone else is thinking about the Dolphins victory over Atlanta, here it is:
OPENING STATEMENT: Obviously it was a hotly contested football game. Atlanta is a very good football team. We knew that going in. [Falcons Head Coach] Mike Smith and his staff do a great, great job. We made enough plays to win the game. It certainly wasn’t classic or text book. We told the guys at halftime that the team that had the most faith and confidence in one another had the best chance to win. We made some plays when we had to. At the end of the first half, those three points were big. The last drive was huge.
(On their work with the two-minute drill) – “It was a huge drive. We had to have it there. There was no other alternative. We had to use our two time outs. It was at that point in the game. We had to step up and make plays. I thought our protection was better on that drive. The quarterback [Ryan Tannehill] threw the ball well. We caught the ball well on that drive and we were able to get the ball in the end zone. That, and I think those three points at the end of the half were huge. We knew that Matt Ryan [QB] does a great, great job in the two minute. He had tremendous protection a year ago in the two-minute offense so the clock was in our favor in those two scenarios."
(On what today’s win says about the team) – “We’ve got a bunch of hard working guys in there that are high character individuals. They’ve been very professional and hopefully we can continue to get better, to improve.”
(On the run defense) – “We close out the half and the game very, very well. Obviously we didn’t start the game well. We deferred to them 80 yards to score a touchdown. We started the second half and gave them the ball at the 14-yard line. There’s a bunch of things to work on. Our run defense is not where it needs to be. They controlled the whole tempo of the football game, which was one of the things we really felt going in was going to be important."
(On their performance despite injuries) – “We talked last night that we may have to get contributions from guys who are sitting in these chairs who don’t necessarily think they’re going to have a big role in the football game. That’s exactly what happened. Guys stepped up, guys like [Jason] Trusnik [LB], [Jonathan] Freeney [LB], and [Dion] Jordan [DE] played more, [Vaughn] Martin [DE] played more, [Derrick] Shelby [DE] played more on the defensive side of the ball. Those guys did a nice job."
(On the play of TE Dion Sims) – “Mike [Sherman, offensive coordinator] and the staff really deserve a lot of the credit. I want to say it was 42 or 43 seconds left [:43] somewhere around there. We had great field position. I thought it was a good move by Atlanta to call time out there to save some clock for themselves. It was kind of an action pass. We figured if it wasn’t good we’d still have a down or two to get a good play off."
(On the play of QB Ryan Tannehill during the last drive) – “He was kind of getting grabbed and held and it was a make up for the sack-fumble he had on the first play of the second half."
(On protecting the quarterback) – “He had five sacks. It’s getting repetitive, you’re probably tired of hearing me say it, but the starting point in any passing game is protection. It’s tough for any defense to cover guys all across the field – it’s 53⅓ yards wide, I believe, and 120 yards long when you count the end zones – and if you can’t protect the quarterback, or if you get pressure on the quarterback, you help your pass coverage a lot and we have to do better."
(On grading the pass protection) – “How we did on the last drive? [Overall.] Not very good. Not good. You want me to give a grade scale? A, B, C, D…it just wasn’t very good. The last grade was a B-plus."
(On the play of QB Ryan Tannehill so far this season) – “It’s important. We talk all the time about how quarterbacks have to make great decisions. They have to throw the ball accurately and they have to make plays at critical times in the game. Obviously, that drive, as I mentioned before, we had to have points on that drive, and he was able to do that. Just as the gentleman who just exited [Chairman of the Board and Managing General Partner Stephen Ross] just said, you can’t do it by yourself. We caught the ball well, we gave him good protection, and he had a chance to do his job."
(On playing before 70,660 in attendance) – “The crowd was outstanding. They were a huge part of the win. We’re going to need them every single week. They were fantastic. I think it was a thrill for our guys to play in front of a crowd like that."
(On the play of the defense) – “The guys stepped up and made plays. One of the things that we had mentioned to the ball club all week was that we wanted to do a better job of building momentum and building off of one another. If the offense gets a score, let’s get a three-and-out or a takeaway. That was a great example at the end. We needed it at the end and came up with a play. You never know what can happen offensively. A guy breaks a tackle and takes it to the house…we were able to, last week, stop a team on downs, and this week get a takeaway. That’s good stuff."
(On RB Lamar Miller’s late incomplete pass) – “We got right back to work. Mike [Sherman] just sent in another good play and off we went."
(On the team’s performance today) – “Like I said, we had a lot of confidence in those guys. They demonstrated that they love to play the game, they love to compete. They’re a team. It was a good step again in the right direction."
(How would you describe Ryan Tannehill in that last drive) – “Flatline. He was calm. You could tell that he expected to go down and score a touchdown. There was no panic; nothing. He just said lets go down and score a touchdown and we did. I don’t think there was any doubt in anyone’s mind. Then we started moving the ball, there were big plays all over the place, it was pretty special."
(On the Atlanta Falcons) – “Good football team. I’m sure they’ll go on and have success the rest of the season, but today, I’ll take the win."
(On if it reminded him of some of the old games with the Falcon’s, hanging in there and then pulling out the game at the end) – “Well I knew that we had to play well in the fourth quarter to beat those guys. They’re so good late and so we controlled the ball, I think we took it with over four minutes and they didn’t get it back until there was like 40 seconds left or something like that. That was key I think, because you don’t’ want him to have time to do what he does really well. It’s special."
(On this win being a team win without anyone giving up) “There’s no doubt about it. I mean the guys did a good job sticking together. I mean even at the beginning of that last drive guys were upbeat in the huddle saying: ‘C’mon this is what great teams are made of and if you want to take the next step you got to score a touchdown.’"
(On whether there was any one play that turned the game around) “I can’t think of just one play. The guys did a great job the whole time. I mean, it was multiple times, it was an exciting game. We knew it was going to be that way coming in playing a tough Atlanta team."
(On his catch on the last drive) “I mean, it was a great move. That’s about pretty much all I can say about it. It’s a little seam route and Ryan (Tannehill) placed it in a perfect spot where I can make a play on it and no one else can."
(On the confidence of the team) “Well, I mean, this team has been working together for so long now we knew at the end of the game that if we came together, we knew that if we just played together then we can win that game."
(On how it feels to see the tight end being so involved on the last drive) “It’s big. Especially for Dion (Sims) seeing him finally get his catch."
(On Sims’ one-handed catch) “Yeah. He’s got to do it in style."
(On his catch in the fourth quarter) “I thought I was down. You know, when I got up and I heard everybody screaming, you kind of get worried, but I figured I was down."
(On whether he was the primary receiver or second or third look-off on his catch on the last drive) “It’s all based on coverage. On that play I would like to say that I was secondary, but like I said (Ryan) Tannehill did a great job with his eyes and he made a great throw."
(On his 131st consecutive game for the Dolphins which broke Jason Taylor’s franchise record for consecutive starts) “It’s always nice and I’m more excited about the win right now. I’m more excited about being 3-0. It hasn’t happened a whole lot in my career and I’m excited to where the team is headed."
(On his fumble recovery) “It all happens real quick. I mean there was some wrestling going on down there. But what matters is when the refs finally get to the bottom of the pile that you’re the one with the majority of the ball."
(On whether he has ever recovered a fumble before) “I have once before in a regular season game and another time in a preseason game."
(On what it was like to watch Ryan Tannehill on the last drive of the game) “It’s great. It’s great to see when your quarterback has got that confidence and then he believes in himself that he can go down the field when we need it and score."
(On rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis being calm, cool and collected) “He is solid. I mean you’re getting your bang for your buck out of him for sure."
(On where this environment ranks for him) “Oh, this has got to be tops as far as the energy right now, it’s as high as I’ve ever seen it."
(On whether this is the best moment he has had as a Dolphin) “Yeah, we’ve been to the playoffs once. Right now because it’s the moment, absolutely I’d say it’s the greatest time because it’s now. We’re doing well now. We’re not living off the past. We’re making the most of the present and hopefully we can snowball that into the future."
(On what is special about this team, overcoming three turnovers and still coming out ahead) “I think because we’ve seen ourselves do it before, I think we will build that confidence to know that it is possible. We’re not heads down, giving up. We recognize the fact that we’ve done this before, we’re not out of this. There is plenty of time on the clock and we’re capable of turning it around."
(On the week leading up to the game) – “It was emotional. It was a crazy game, it came down to the home stretch and it was a great win. To win a game against a team who has been good in this league for a while now, that’s big. It was our home opener, we’re 3-0; it was just a big win. It didn’t mean that much just because it was the Atlanta Falcons."
(On QB Ryan Tannehill on the last drive) – “If you heard me on the sideline, I said I know we’re going to score. It just had that feeling. He moved the ball down the field and made some big throws, the team made some big catches and we got going."
(On whether it was a big win) – “I knew we have a lot of potential on this team and we’re doing some good things out there and we just want to keep it going. We’re only 3-0, we have a lot of positives, but we have a lot of work to do."
(On the DE Cameron Wake’s injury) – “We just know everybody is going to give their best effort. You never want anybody to go down, but you know it’s bound to happen in this game. You have to have people step up and we did that, everybody was talking on the sideline. We were all picking guys up telling each other to keep it going. We made a bunch of stops when we had to."
(On the feeling at halftime) – “We knew that this was the kind of game we were in for, so we didn’t panic; we knew we had to make adjustments and we had to get back to doing our fundamentals and play football how we know how to play. Then things started going our way in the second half."
(On whether this win says something about the team) – “I already knew it about my team. We got in here on April 15 and all the guys are all in. That’s what we are. We make plays when we have to and nobody doubted it.”
(On QB Ryan Tannehill’s composure on the last drive of the game) – “It was a good step. He stepped back there and put together a Ryan Tannehill kind of moment."
(On beating a championship level team) – “It was good. It was definitely a step forward. I guess high expectations usually bring out the best in you."
(On the team being 3-0 for the first time in 12 years) – “We have a special team. We have a lot of talent. We continue to progress and come together as a team on an individual basis. Offense, defense, and special teams all compliment each other. The sky’s the limit."
(On his touchdown catch) – “I had an opportunity, I saw the coverage and I knew I had an opportunity on the ball. Of course the only spot where the sun was left in the stadium decided to find the football and I couldn’t see it, so I decided to catch the black dot and it worked out pretty well. It was definitely hard to locate."
(On if it was all business in the huddle on the final drive of the game) – “All business, we were prepared to be in that situation and I think guys stuck together, it was a gutsy win and it was awesome to go down the field and get seven points."
(On if he was surprised by the play call on first and goal from the one yard line) – “You know, we have had a lot of success against our defense running that play. Obviously we do a lot of different scenarios on the goal line and we get competitive reps against the first team defense and we always have success with that play, it’s hard to defend. You have play action upfront, the tight end leaking out the back and they had it covered but he had his back turned and Dion (Sims) went up and made a play."
(On what went right on the final drive) – “We were able to pick up chunks of yards, instead of two yards and a cloud of dust, we were able to pick up six, seven, eight (yards) and consistently move the chains, keeping third down manageable and really leave our whole playbook to be called, we left ourselves some options moving the ball down the field."
(On if he thought Harry Douglas would be returning the punt where he tackled Douglas for the fumble after he waved off his team) – “Actually I didn’t see him wave it off because I was fighting all the way down the field trying to get my defender off. I finally found him. I looked up, and he was right where I was. I tackled him, and I looked up and he was on my shoulder. I decided to go on and dunk him. So it turned out to a pretty good play that a better team could get out and get a win."
(On if he felt the energy changing on the sideline after the play where he forced the fumble) – “Yes, most definitely. I think they gave us a lot more hope. I think it got the offense rolling a little more. Then after that, we came out and finished the game well and finished the game like Coach (Joe) Philbin had been talking about all week. We finished it out pretty good."
(On if he felt like Harry Douglas didn’t see him coming) – “He glanced at me bug-eyed. I don’t think he knew I was coming at him that fast. As soon as I got the chance, I just dived at him and caught him in my shoulders. I scooped him up and threw him down. It was a big play."
(On if he knew the ball had popped out) – “No sir, I was just so happy I was running to the sidelines celebrating. Then I looked and everyone was pointing back and I was like, ‘We just got the turnover.’ It was a big play I really needed. I just need to keep improving and listening to my coaches every week."
(On how it impacts his confidence making a big play) – “My confidence went through the roof. Now I feel like I could go down there and do that all the time, which I know I’m capable of. I just got to keep on working and keep on working, keep on getting coached up every week and after that everything will be good."
(On if he feels like he’s on the team because of special teams) – “Oh yes, most definitely. If it wasn’t for special teams I probably wouldn’t have made the 53 (man roster). I would probably be on practice squad.”
(On how it felt to get this win) – “It wasn’t just one guy, it was myself, OV (Olivier Vernon) made big plays, (Derrick) Shelby had to come in and make plays, (Randy) Starks played a lot, it’s just everybody as a collective unit. We work out butt off throughout the week so we can play well on Sunday’s. I’m just thankful that we prepared the way we did so that we can come out here and play well."
(On with all the injuries today, it was a next man up scenario, was it a good team effort) – “Oh yes, it’s the NFL and you never can predict what happens and that’s why guys have to prepare like they’re going to play on Sunday. In our case on the defensive side of the ball guys had to step up, fortunately we prepared well enough and we made plays."
(On how he can explain this team, after it looks like they’re out of a game, and they keep winning) – “We have a lot of faith in each other, that’s all it is. We work really hard throughout the week and it’s a grind, but we understand on Sunday’s it’s going to pay off in this league. These last few games it’s been down to the wire, pretty much and we’ve played against some good teams. Thankfully we stuck together and came out big, 2 weeks in a row."
(On how rare it is to win a game when the winning team gives up five sacks and the losing team does not give up any) – “It just shows our ability to execute in the clutch. We got the ball back with just enough time to get down the field and it showed us how together we are as a team."
(On what the 4th quarter drive says about Ryan Tannehill) – “He’s a monster, he’s taken the next step and everyone can tell he’s been playing well for us all season. The way he conducts himself in practice, you can tell its going to relate to the game, and so he’s playing well for us. It was a total team win; we couldn’t have done anything without our defense and kicking game."
(On what was said by Tannehill in the huddle on the last drive) – “He told us on the last drive, it doesn’t matter what you have done up to this point, the only things that matters is the last drive of the game and we went down and scored a touchdown. It just goes to show his leadership and his will to win the game, and we did it."
(On where he would rank today’s atmosphere) – “Number one, it’s the best I have ever seen this stadium. The fans were into it, they helped us out a lot. When the fans are into it hurts the other team. They were all juiced up, and so were we on the sidelines."
(Think Ryan did a good job spreading the ball)- “He did a pretty good job spreading the ball, getting it to everyone. He is doing the things a quarterback needs to do to take that next step."
(Tannehill’s poise down the stretch)- “He is just showing us everything we see in practice. He does this everyday. He makes plays. We making strides, he going down the right path to be a great quarterback."
(On Ryan being sacked five times, your team not recording a sack)- “No, but we have a team that overcomes it. It was a team win, everyone contributed. Big play by Don (Jones), turned the game around. Donny got the hit that caused the fumble and (John) Denney recovered it. We won in all three phases of the game to win it."
(On being outplayed, nothing going your way, but still finding a way to win the game)- “You think we got outplayed, I feel like we played the best. First half maybe, I will give you that, but the 2nd half, that’s where it really counts. It’s a team, everyone contributed in all three phases of the game."
(On the Special Teams tackle by Don Jones which caused a fumble)- “Biggest play of the whole game, we were driving but we had to punt the ball, but we got the ball back and scored on the drive."
(Never quitting on the game)- “60 minutes in the game, I’ve seen so much crazy stuff happen in the football game, teams comeback down from 20,21, 28 points. Until the last second goes off on the clock you just need to have faith and believe you can win."
Falcons coach Mike Smith
(Opening remarks) –This was a game that we had a ton of opportunities to have chances to win the game. We just didn’t make the plays when they were presented to us. We’ve got to be a lot more efficient the red zone. We cannot leave out of there without scoring touchdowns. We’ve got to get the ball in the end zone. I thought that we played well in spurts. We’re not going to win whole lot of games in the National Football League when you lose the turnover battle, which we did today. But we’re going to keep working to make the improvements that we need to make as a football team."
(On the Dolphins’ game-winning drive) – “Obviously we did not get enough pressure. We didn’t play tight-enough coverage. And they made the plays and we didn’t. You’ve got to make those plays at the end of the ballgame."
(On when he felt the game was getting away from the Falcons) – “The game got away when (the Dolphins) went ahead, there, at the end when we had two timeouts and we’re in a situation where we have to score a touchdown. And when it really got away from us was on that last interception. Our guys fought to the very last play."
(On deciding to attempt a field goal late in the game based on the spot of the ball) – “I thought it was too far (to go for the first down). If it was going to be a half a yard or less, we had determined we would go for it. When they brought the chains out it was a good yard, yard and a half. And that’s very difficult in those situations to know until they unwind and bring the chains out it was definitely more than one yard."
(On the performance of the Falcons’ second-string players) – “Ee had a lot of guys that played … it was good to see those young guys step up. It’ll be interesting to watch the film. Paul Worrilow got a number of snaps in the ballgame today. (Joplo) Bartu continued to play … so, those guys, we knew would be able to step up and go out and compete. And I thought that they did a nice job standing on the sideline. We just didn’t get the outcome that we wanted today."
(On if he felt like the Falcons played well enough to win) – “The scoreboard says that we didn’t. There’s certain indicators in a football game that have a more high probability for winning. For losing. When you lose the turnover battle, the way we lost the turnover battle today, that’s probably the biggest one. Then our red zone efficiency on both sides of the ball wasn’t as efficient as we needed it to be. Those are probably two of the biggest indicators of whether you’re going to win the game or not."
(On if despite the loss, if he was happy with his team’s performance) - “Again, we didn’t win the ballgame. I liked the effort. I liked the resolve that we showed in terms of running the football. We wanted to run the football. We came in and I thought we did it. I thought that both Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers did a very good job. The offensive line controlled the defensive front. I thought that we applied pressure on the quarterback; we had five sacks on our side. And again, you look at the indicators that I had mentioned and that’s really the difference in the ballgame. The red zone efficiency on both sides of the ball for the Falcons and losing the turnover battle."