Brian Hartline #82 of the Miami Dolphins reacts to scoring a touchdown against the Falcons at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.
It’s been a while since the buzz around the Miami Dolphins was this big. After securing their first 3-0 start since the Jay Fielder era – back in 2002 – South Florida football fans are ecstatic, witnessing their upstart Dolphins rise the ranks of the AFC East.
Sunday’s 27-23 come-from-behind win over the Atlanta Falcons was a coming-out party for sophomore quarterback Ryan Tannehill (236 yards, 2 TDs) – who orchestrated a brilliant 13-play, 75-yard game-winning drive that sent the home crowd of 70,660 at Sun Life Stadium into a frenzy.
It was the largest regular season showing at Sun Life since December 2, 2007, when over 71,109 showed up for a Monday night game against division rivals the New York Jets.
The celebration didn’t end there, as many fans stayed even after the clocks hit double zero. South Florida Dolphins fans could not get enough.
It’s been a long time coming for a franchise that has struggled through four straight losing seasons. With a fleeting fan base and his job on the line, general manager Jeff Ireland took a series of risks in the offseason, opening up the team's checkbook to the tune of nearly $117 million in guaranteed contracts and pricey free agent acquisitions.
More than $100 million was spent between three wide receivers: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson. So far, the investment in offense is paying off. Miami has won three straight in impressive fashion, and QB Tannehill has emerged as a rising star in the NFL.
As visions of Super Bowls and Vince Lombardi trophies dance in their heads, many questions still remain for excited Dolphins fans. Can the Fins clinch their first division title since 2008? Will they have enough to the finally make the playoffs? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, the Dolphins want to remain undefeated. Miami will face the New Orleans Saints, who are also 3-0, in the Superdome on "Monday Night Football" next week.