Miami, FL – The Miami Dolphins must be happy with their quarterback decision.
Rookie Ryan Tannehill threw a pair of touchdown passes and former Miami starter Chad Henne struggled in his return to Sun Life Stadium, as the Dolphins earned a 24-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Henne spent the previous four seasons in Miami and had a record of 13-18 as the Dolphins' starting quarterback, including 0-4 last year before a shoulder injury ended his campaign in October. He left as a free agent to sign with Jacksonville in March and the Dolphins selected Tannehill with the eighth overall pick in the draft.
Tannehill won the job in a training camp battle with Matt Moore and has led the Dolphins (6-8) to as many wins as they had all of last year. On Sunday he completed 22-of-28 passes for 220 yards without an interception and also ran for 52 yards on eight carries.
Reggie Bush added 104 yards on the ground for Miami, which dominated for most of the second half and scored the game's final 24 points. The Dolphin defense also stopped the Jaguars three times on fourth down inside Miami territory.
"The defense did a great job of keeping the other team out of the end zone," said Tannehill. "They got down there a couple times and we kept them out of the end zone and kept them from kicking a field goal also. I think it's a great win for all of us across the board."
Henne took over as the Jacksonville starter when Blaine Gabbert went down for the season in mid-November. He connected on 18-of-34 throws for 221 yards Sunday in defeat. The Jaguars (2-12) have dropped three in a row and are one loss away from having the worst season in franchise history, surpassing the 4-12 mark in the club's 1995 expansion campaign.
"Every time we take a step forward we take two steps back, and that cost us again today," Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey said.
The game turned on a penalty after Henne had thrown an apparent touchdown pass in the second quarter.
After a Tannehill fumble early in the second quarter, Henne threw a 20-yard TD strike to Justin Blackmon, but Jaguars lineman Guy Whimper failed to report as an eligible receiver and the penalty negated the score. The Jaguars then came up short on 4th-and-1 moments later to turn it over on downs.
Miami followed with an 89-yard drive to snap a 3-3 tie. The Dolphins converted a trio of third downs, including one on a pass interference penalty after an incomplete pass, before Tannehill capped the 14-play set by finding fullback Jorvorskie Lane in the end zone from four yards away on the first play after the two-minute warning.
The Dolphin defense stopped Jacksonville in Miami territory near the end of the half and the offense took the first possession of the third quarter inside the Jacksonville 10, only to come away empty. A third-down pass to the end zone fell incomplete and the Dolphins tried a fake field goal. Anthony Fasano was initially all alone near the right pylon, but the Jaguars quickly raced over to cover him and punter Brandon Fields, the holder, threw it well out of bounds.
Miami quickly got the ball back at its own 28 after a punt and Bush broke off an electrifying 53-yard run to set up a 30-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter for a 13-3 lead with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
Tannehill keyed the next Miami series with a 30-yard run, but the drive again stalled and Carpenter added a 31-yard kick with just over a minute to play in the period for a 16-3 advantage.
The Jaguars marched to the Miami 15 early in the fourth quarter, but were again turned away on 4th-and-1 when Montell Owens was stopped short.
Miami then took more than nine minutes off the clock and Tannehill finished the 14-play series with a 2-yard TD pass to Fasano. The two also hooked up on a two-point conversion for a 24-3 lead with 3:12 left in the contest.
The Dolphins came up with a goal-line stand in the final two minutes to keep the Jaguars out of the end zone.
Jacksonville took the opening kickoff and drove to the Miami 13 before settling for a 37-yard Josh Scobee field goal and the Dolphins answered with a 53-yard kick from Carpenter to conclude their initial series.
The Dolphins finished with 180 yards on the ground, while Jacksonville managed only 86 yards rushing ... The Jaguars were again missing running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings, as well as cornerback Aaron Ross ... Miami held the ball for more than 35 minutes ... Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll and fullback Charles Clay each left the game with apparent knee injuries ... Brian Hartline finished with five catches for 77 yards and became the eighth Dolphin to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season ... Fasano hauled in six passes for 56 yards ... Miami played without starting wide receiver Davone Bess and starting linebacker Koa Misi because of injuries ... Miami finished 1-3 against the AFC South, while Jacksonville dropped to 0-3 against the AFC East with a game against New England next Sunday ... The Dolphins host Buffalo next Sunday.