Tannehill's has 3 INTs; Texans beat Dolphins 30-10
HOUSTON—Miami rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's NFL debut was going pretty well.
Then the eighth overall pick in this year's draft got an up close and personal introduction to just how good Houston's defense can be.
Tannehill threw three interceptions in less than six minutes in the second quarter and the Texans capitalized on those errors to take a big lead on go on to a 30-10 win over the Dolphins on Sunday.
"We emphasized to our players all week the importance of the turnover margin," Miami coach Joe Philbin said. "Obviously it's the No. 1 statistic in football. We banged it home every single day. Unfortunately it wasn't reflected in the performance today."
The Dolphins were up 3-0 before Tannehill's first miscue. Johnathan Joseph made a nifty, juggling interception and returned it 36 yards. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Mike Pouncey gave the ball to the Texans at the 7. But they couldn't get anything going on offense and lost 10 yards before tying it at 3l with a 35-yard field goal by Shayne Graham.
Then J.J. Watt got to work, proving that missing most of camp with a dislocated left elbow didn't slow him one bit. He deflected a pass that Brian Cushing grabbed for another interception on Miami's next drive.
Houston's offense finally got rolling after that and the Texans used a 24-yard reception by Andre Johnson on third down to keep the drive going. Arian Foster gave Houston a 10-3 lead on a 14-yard touchdown run.
Foster had 79 yards rushing and two scores to lead the Texans.
Watt did it again on Miami's next series, batting another pass by Tannehill, and this one was intercepted by Kareem Jackson. Houston threw to Kevin Walter into the end zone on the next play and Richard Marshall was called for pass interference. That gave the Texans the ball at the 1 and Foster finished it off two plays later with his second score to push the lead to 17-3.
"Anytime you turn the ball over, you can't be happy with yourself, regardless of how they happened," Tannehill said. "It's not good. You can't turn the ball over. You put your defense in a bad situation and ultimately it led to a lot of points for them."
Miami's fourth straight turnover came on the first play of its next drive when Glover Quin forced a fumble by Daniel Thomas which Danieal Manning recovered. Matt Schaub found Andre Johnson in the corner of the end zone three plays later on a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-3 just before halftime.
As things unraveled for his team in the second quarter, Philbin couldn't figure out a way to get his team back on track. At last he decided there was only one way to stop the slide.
"Halftime," Philbin deadpanned. "That was supposed to be a joke."
What wasn't funny to Philbin in his NFL head coaching debut was seeing so many of Tannehill's passes get batted down at the line.
"We've got to look at a couple of things," he said. "Some of it was protection, we've got to do a better job of knocking their hands down, no question about that. Then some of it was might be the throwing lane that Ryan has to peek and move and slide a little bit and adjust his throwing angles."
Reggie Bush had 69 yards rushing and caught six passes for 46 yards.
"We were running the ball early, which was great," Tannehill said. "We had movement up front and Reggie was obviously making some great runs. I thought we were in a rhythm early on and even in the second half. Cut out that last six or eight minutes of the second quarter and I felt like we moved the ball as an offense."
Bush knows the team has to pitch in to eliminate his passes being knocked down at the line.
"Tipped balls are something we can help on the running back's side and the offensive line's side by getting their hands down," Bush said. "That's something that's easily fixable and I thought Ryan did a great job for the most part throwing the ball down the field and finding open receivers."
Tannehill finished 20 of 36 for 219 yards. He made his professional debut on the same field where he played his last college game, leading Texas A&M to a 33-22 win over Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl last December.
Marcus Thigpen returned a punt 72 yards for Miami's only touchdown. The Dolphins gained only 275 total yards.
The Dolphins took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter with a 39-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter.
Houston added two field goals in the second half to secure the win.
NOTES: Thomas left the game after his fumble. The team said he had a head injury and Philbin said after the game that he didn't have an update on his condition. ... Dolphins LB Koa Misi finished with 11 tackles and DT Randy Starks had two sacks.