The Miami Dolphins Weather the Storm In Season Opener

Patrick Ales, Staff Writer

The Miami Dolphins kicked off the National Football League (NFL) season on Sep. 3 at 1 P.M. against the Tennessee Titans. The much-anticipated return of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, after missing all of last season due to injury, was taken aback following the torrential downpour that plagued much of the eastern U.S. coast. After all was said and done, the Dolphins’ season opener became the longest game in NFL history, lasting seven hours and 10 minutes.

The first rain delay of the game came with one minute remaining in the second quarter; at about 2:10 P.M. the Dolphins carried a 7-3 lead into this grueling two-hour delay. Much of the first half had been plagued by rain, so both teams relied heavily on their running backs, allowing for several rushing plays to be made.

“The game was intense at the moment of the delay and the Dolphins had just come back. All the fans were disappointed when we heard play was called off,” senior Adrian Laithert said.

The game would resume for about 30 minutes until lightning struck again and both teams were forced to return to the locker room. At this point in the game, the Dolphins held a 10-3 lead following a field goal by kicker Jason Sanders, and seemed poised to build on their advantage. Although rain delays typically drain the life out of a team, the entire roster remained energized and eager to get back on the field.

Five hours after kickoff, the game resumed for a second time. The fourth quarter was an unexpected reward for fans that weathered the storm within Hard Rock Stadium, as both teams scored 17 points in the final period. Tannehill threw his second touchdown of the day to receiver Kenny Stills with 10 minutes left in the game, capping an impressive 200 yard, two touchdown performance. His debut instilled hope in many fans, who were worried about his ability to perform coming off an injury. All the action resulted in a 27-20 win for the Dolphins and represents an ideal start to the season, despite the circumstances they were faced with throughout the game. The Titans sought to build on a season that saw them contend in the playoffs but fell short as the underdogs from Miami defended their home field during the season opener.

“It was really reassuring to see the Dolphins play so well after all the changes that were made in the offseason. The team looks poised to make a run for the playoffs, even with such a different roster from last year,” senior Angelle Garcia said.

A solid win over a team with playoff aspirations surely serves as a building block for Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, who faces an uphill battle this year after losing two of his best players in the offseason: receiver Jarvis Landry and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Expected to take on bigger roles after the departure of these stars are receiver Kenny Stills, who finished the game with an impressive two touchdowns, and defensive end Charles Harris. The latter is coming off a stellar rookie season and is looking to develop into one of the elite defensive players in the league.

Getting off to a good start is crucial for a team as inexperienced as the new-look Miami Dolphins, and their season-opening performance did just that. Despite having to sit through the longest game in NFL history, the team never let their guard down. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the game is the collective intensity that the Dolphins maintained throughout the entire seven hours, rather than the play of any one individual player. As for Week Two, the Dolphins will fly to New York to face the Jets on Sunday, Sep. 16, at 1 P.M. Go Fins!