Miami, FL – Ryan Tannehill threw his second touchdown pass with 38 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, sending Miami to a 27-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Dolphins' home opener.
Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant, perfect on his first three field goal attempts, missed a 35-yarder wide right that would have given the Falcons a six-point lead with 4:46 to play.
Tannehill then led the Dolphins on a 13-play drive that ended with Dion Sims' one-handed, over-the-shoulder grab from a yard out off play-action.
"I didn't really think about the situation, everything was just instinctive," Sims said. "The linebacker grabbed my arm so I just reached up with my free arm and brought it in."
Miami safety Jimmy Wilson picked off Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to seal the win.
Tannehill completed 24-of-35 passes for 236 yards with one interception for the Dolphins, who have opened a season 3-0 for the first time since 2002 after twice battling back from 10-point deficits.
Ryan had 231 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-38 passing for Atlanta (1-2), which dominated time of possession in the opening half, holding the ball for nearly 23 minutes.
"This was a game where I think 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," Atlanta head coach Mike Smith said.
However, the Falcons only led 13-10 at halftime.
They went up by 10 early in the third quarter following a turnover by Tannehill on the second play from scrimmage. Atlanta defensive end Osi Umenyiora forced a fumble on a sack and defensive tackle Peria Jerry recovered the ball at the Miami 12.
A defensive pass interference penalty on third down kept Atlanta's special teams unit on the sideline. Two plays later, Ryan connected with tight end Levine Toilolo for a 2-yard score.
The Dolphins answered with a 50-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis on their next drive and capitalized on a turnover in Atlanta territory to draw even.
Harry Douglas was hit hard on a punt return and fumbled. Miami made the recovery at the 19, and Tannehill hit a wide-open Brian Hartline for the game- tying touchdown with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.
Bryant nailed a 33-yarder on the ensuing drive to put the Falcons back on top.
Atlanta's opening drive of the game consumed roughly nine minutes, and Ryan capped the 14-play march with a 7-yard TD pass to Jason Snelling. After the Dolphins went three-and-out on their first possession, Atlanta chewed up almost six more minutes before Bryant drilled a 52-yarder in the second quarter.
The Dolphins countered on their next touch, with Lamar Miller bursting through a gaping hole up the middle on first down for a 49-yard dash. The significant gain helped set up a TD run by Daniel Thomas, who fought his way into the end zone from five yards out.
Once again, Atlanta orchestrated a time-consuming drive, but was forced to settle for a Bryant 20-yard field goal after marching to the Miami 2.
Sturgis kicked a 46-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
With Steven Jackson (hamstring) out, Jacquizz Rodgers and Snelling shared the running back duties for Atlanta. Rodgers finished with a career-high 86 yards rushing, while Snelling had 53 yards on the ground and caught four passes for 58 yards ... Atlanta's Julio Jones led all receivers with 115 yards on nine catches ... The Falcons lost despite a 377-285 edge in total offensive yards.