Tight End Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons is brought down by Linebacker Philip Wheeler #52 of the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The stadium shook with a roar as Ryan Tannehill skipped across the field pumping his arms with glee, the Miami Dolphins' comeback complete.
Tannehill lobbed a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie Dion Sims with 38 seconds left Sunday, and the unbeaten Dolphins rallied past the Atlanta Falcons 27-23.
The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive after Atlanta's Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard field goal attempt with 4:46 left. Jimmy Wilson intercepted Matt Ryan to seal the victory.
Miami fell behind 10-0 and 20-10 and trailed much of the game, but nonetheless improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. The enthusiastic crowd of 70,660 reflected the buzz building about the surprising Dolphins, who are trying to end a streak of four consecutive losing seasons.
The injury-plagued Falcons, who were one play from the Super Bowl last season, fell to 1-2.
Tannehill finished 24 for 35 for 236 yards and two scores. He shook off two turnovers and five sacks, and was at his best at the end of each half.
On the final drive, Tannehill went 8 for 11 for 69 yards and had two passes dropped. The winning pass came on second down, when Tannehill lobbed his throw over linebacker Stephen Nicholas to Sims, who scored his first NFL touchdown.
Tannehill's other scoring pass was an 18-yarder to Brian Hartline to make it 20-20 late in the third quarter. Tannehill also moved Miami 60 yards in the final 2:04 of the first half for a field goal on the final play.
Atlanta lost despite advantages of 24-16 in first downs, 377-285 in yards and 5-0 in sacks. Ryan threw for 231 yards, and in the absence of Steven Jackson — one of several sidelined Falcons — Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling combined for 139 yards rushing.
Lamar Miller had a 49-yard run to set up the Dolphins' first touchdown, but they generated little running attack otherwise. Special teams made a pivotal contribution when rookie Don Jones' jarring tackle on punt returner Harry Douglas forced a fumble the Dolphins recovered to set up a touchdown.
The Dolphins' defense lost end Cameron Wake (knee) and linebacker Koa Misi (shoulder) to injuries, but Miami dug in after a slow start.
The Falcons scored on their first three possessions, and at one point the Dolphins trailed in total yards by 127-3.
Atlanta had the ball for nearly 23 minutes in the first half but was up only 13-10 at halftime. Ryan led drives of 14, 11 and 13 plays on the Falcons' first three possessions, but twice they stalled and settled for field goals.
Osi Umenyiora had two sacks, including one to force a fumble that set up a Falcons touchdown. William Moore ended a Miami scoring threat with an interception of a pass by Tannehill after it deflected off the hands of intended receiver Charles Clay.