Photo via YouTube/CBS broadcast
For the Miami Dolphins, the 2016 season turned out to be a good one. Early on however, few would have guessed that.
On this day five years ago, the Dolphins took advantage of a missed field late in regulation to top the Cleveland Browns in overtime. Jay Ajayi’s touchdown served as the game-winner in a 30-24 victory.
Setting the Stage
Both teams were coming off dismal seasons in 2015 and enduring dismal starts to 2016 as they arrived at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 25, 2016. Both teams were 0-2 as the Dolphins prepared for their home opener.
Miami led by 11 early in the fourth quarter, but it appeared a late turnover would cost the Dolphins. Fortunately for the faithful in South Florida, that was not the case.
It looked as though the Dolphins may cruise as quarterback Ryan Tannehill found Damien Williams for a 10-yard touchdown less than a minute into the fourth quarter. The scoring toss made it 24-13, but the Browns had an answer.
Nine plays later, the Browns were in the end zone as Terrelle Pryor scored from three yards out. Cody Kessler’s 2-point conversion toss to Gary Barnidge cut the lead to three, 24-21.
After the next three drives resulted in a total of seven yards, the Browns drew even on Cody Parkey’s 37-yard field goal. After another exchange of punts, Miami took possession at its own 16-yard-line with 42 seconds to go.
The Dolphins hoped to mount a winning drive, but instead put Cleveland in range to win the contest. After a pair of completions to start the drive, Tannehill was stripped by Corey Lemonier, who also recovered for the Browns inside the Miami 30.
After running one play, Parkey came on to try the winning field goal. Fortunately for Miami, his attempt sailed wide and the contest went to overtime.
The teams again exchanged punts, but a holding penalty and a sack by Miami’s Ndamukong Suh kept the Browns pinned deep. Following a Britton Colquitt punt, the Dolphins started at the Cleveland 44-yard-line.
It took Miami just three plays to end the game. The series started with a run by Ajayi and was followed by a 32-yard completion from Tannehill to Jarvis Landry. Ajayi then hit the sideline on his way for an 11-yard touchdown to end the contest.
In addition to three turnovers, Tannehill did throw three touchdowns for the Dolphins during a 319-yard passing day. His 26-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker served as the lone score of the first quarter.
Behind a pair of Parkey field goals and a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown by Briean Boddy-Calhoun, the Browns took a 13-10 lead to the locker room. Miami regained the lead in the third quarter on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Landry, who finished with seven catches for 120 yards.
For the Browns, the contest served as a missed opportunity. The team would go just 1-15 under first-year head coach Hue Jackson.
It served as the first win for Miami head coach Adam Gase. The Dolphins overcame a 1-4 start to finish 10-6 and make the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Unfortunately for Miami, 2016 remains the last season in which it made the playoffs. The first win from that memorable campaign came on this day five years ago.